Following a woodland trail deep into the woods

IMG_1237
On forest school framing, proud of my woodland picture frame

Forest school practitioner training

I rejoined the Woodland Adventurers following a fantastic one week Forest School Practitioner Training Course, from May 11th to 15th, run by Forest School Education (FSE). I returned to Grindleford and Eyam Playgroup feeling motivated and enthusiastic about putting some of the many skills I learnt on the course into practice. I am really looking forward to the coming year or so, in which I can gain a broader and deeper understanding and experience of Forest School, as a volunteer at playgroup and as a trainee FS practitioner.

A wooden arrow trail

IMG_1284
The lambs are growing!
IMG_1283
Running to the oak tree

The sun was shining brightly and warmly down on us as we made our way into the woods. So too were the midges, an unwelcome reminder that summer is really here! As usual, the children enjoyed running through the field, spotting the now larger lambs and throwing sticks and other natural materials into the stream on the way. Julia, this week’s Forest School Practitioner, directed the children to look out for and follow a series of wooden arrows, which indicated which way we were to walk in order to find a new spot in the woods, whilst also warning the children to not go beyond a wooden cross laying

Adopting a safe position on tummies in order to watch sticks floating down the stream
Adopting a safe position on tummies in order to watch sticks floating down the stream

on the path. This trail enticed and led the children into an exciting new clearing set-up deeper in the woods. Without knowing it, the children stepped off the path into quite bumpy, tricky ground, littered with tree roots and woodland debris.

The first arrow
The first arrow
An woodland arrow indicating which way to go
Another woodland arrow, off the path, indicating which way to go
A cross indicating no passage past this point
A cross indicating no passage past this point

A new woodland site

Snack time under the tarpaulin shelter
Snack time under the tarpaulin shelter
Snack time on a woodland sofa!
Snack time on a woodland sofa!

The children were pleased to arrive at a new woodland site, where they found a natural moss covered sofa to sit on to have snack. After their exciting journey here, they all relaxed and enjoyed a snack and hot chocolate, whilst Julia put up a bell tent tarpaulin shelter, to protect the children from the weather as well as to create a cosy site.

Tessa and another boy making a den for their animals
Tessa and another boy making a den for their animals
How pleased are we with our dens!
How pleased are we with our dens!
A cosy home for snail
A cosy home for snail
A cosy home for rabbit too!
A cosy home for rabbit too!

Once snack was finished, each child picked a soft toy animal from a bag and was asked to make a home for the animal. The children soon became immersed in their task, making a variety of woodland homes for their animals.

A wonderful toy playground

Taking it in turns to swing their animal on the fantastic swing
Taking it in turns to swing their animal on the fantastic swing

Den building complete, one boy asked if Julia could make a swing for his monkey. Julia immediately set to work making a swing out of string and a stick, which soon became a swing for all of the children’s animals. This activity engaged the children

The joy is clear to see
The joy is clear to see

for a long time, as they took it in turns, with some adult guidance in order to share, to swing their animal. The animals soon had a woodland playground as another, different swing was also made and played on. What I loved about this activity was how child-led and spontaneous it was. The photos illustrate how much fun the children had as they played. It is also great the children will be able to return here and play with the swings again.

Tessa swinging her rabbit
Tessa swinging her rabbit
A little girl swinging her rabbit
A little girl swinging her rabbit
Tessa and another little girl swinging their animals in the other swing
Tessa and another little girl swinging their animals in the other swing

Time flies

Some of the woodland adventurers
Some of the woodland adventurers

The children and adults were so engaged that it came as a surprise that it was indeed time to leave. This was of course aided by the pleasant spring weather and the exciting tasks the children were involved in. To close the session, Julia gathered the children round in a circle under the tarpaulin and asked each child to hold a soft toy and tell the other children their name, importantly, if they wished to.

Heading back to playgroup with the older forest schoolers
Heading back to playgroup with the older forest schoolers

This enabled those children who felt confident enough to say their name to the rest of the group, thereby helping to further connect the group and develop their sense of belonging in a secure setting. As we led the children back towards the path, holding their hands over the trickier sections of undergrowth, we heard the older children, returning from their forest school site higher up in the woods, who were also headed towards playgroup and lunch. We joined them on the path, creating a larger and merrier collection of children and adults, who all walked back to the Pavilion together.

Ewan was pleased to show me his clay 'monster', made at forest school
Ewan was pleased to show me his clay ‘monster’, made at forest school

What a wonderful morning we all had, a great way to tie-up this half-term, before we meet summer head on in June. Watch this space for more Woodland Adventure news next half-term.

Storytelling in the woods

IMG_0796
The Three Little Pigs and the wolf, made out of stones

Another fabulous time was spent with the budding Woodland Adventurers this week. The sun was shining yet again as we made our way into the woods, the children keen to collect twigs in the field and play poo sticks at the stream again. This is becoming a bit of a routine…

IMG_0788

Snack time

We arrived at the same comfortable log just tucked into the woods, where the children enjoyed snack and hot chocolate. Whilst the children were happily munching and slurping away, us adults enjoyed our first hot tea of the year, after having a sudden brave wave a few weeks ago occurred by deciding to take a flask of hot water with us! Tea tastes so much more refreshing when it is drunk outdoors. Continue reading Storytelling in the woods

A prayer for Nepal postscript

Here is the account of the earthquake from my Tibetan friend Sonam, in her own words;

Sonam

‘We are fine and all to Tibetan in Pokhara are in safe place. No such big disaster in Pokhara. But I had a very terrible experience for the first time in my life by 7.6 magnitude earthquake.

I was sitting on bed, hanging with my mobile when earthquake start. I thought that it will stop because in this 2 months we experienced 3 times earthquake but very small like 4 or 5 magnitude. But this time, its not suppose to stop than I slowly fall down myself on the floor and get off from the room. I shouted as my uncle is in another room and my father sitting outside. My brother Sonam was in kitchen. I start crying and ft that we will die today. Shaking n shaking …all the trees and the electricity tower just near out of our boundary…Oh my God. I can’t explain. Enchanting Tibetan Mantra and crying.

Than after 40 sec it stop. Than we get out from our house compound and went to neighbour house where there is big space.
It was seriously a bad and black day of the whole Nepal. No light n battery off. Bro karma is in kathmandu at his gf home. Very worried cant able to contact. Ohh my god. Don’t know how to react the situation. After that went to other house where they have big battery to charge. We are a far relatives. After that I get contact with Bro karma and heard they are safe, staying n sleeping outside. Next day electricity come and watch TV than saw such a big destruction and lose of peoples life in kathmandu .
That tower, we been last time and nothing left now. Surprised and shocked.

Now, we are fine and safe. I update in Facebook.’

Thank goodness Sonam and her family are safe.

I also want to share the absolutely devastating news about Langtang. We spent 16 days trekking there in November 2014. I have just found out that Langtang village has been completely buried and therefore obliterated by a huge landslide, destroying 55 homes and killing many villagers, workers and tourists. This is utterly devastating news, it is mind-blowing. I am still in shock. We were there only six months ago, interacting with locals, walking through the village, and now it is no longer. We ate lunch there. Continue reading A prayer for Nepal postscript

A prayer for Nepal

 

The Kathmandu Valley before the quake
The Kathmandu Valley before the quake

The news of the massive earthquake on Saturday in Nepal came as a huge and unwelcome surprise to us all. Nepal and its people are very close to my heart, after four trips there over the past seventeen years. It is my spiritual and my second home, so the news of such devastation and suffering left me feeling raw and in shock. My sense of disbelief and powerlessness has lingered into the days following the quake, as I hear about the death toll rising, the massive relief effort under way and gain a sense of the level of the destruction on the global news. The chaos and suffering caused by the quake is almost impossible to imagine, as I sit here writing this in my comfortable home, with access to every amenity possible, close at hand.

Yoga and giving

My sense of powerlessness has been somewhat alleviated by attending yoga class last night, where we collectively meditated and prayed, in our own way, for Nepal. I felt the positive energy and love in the room rise, even as I also cried inside. I sincerely believe in the power of healing through positive thoughts, so know our energies here will help. So often we suffer disaster/charity overload when we are constantly bombarded with disturbing images and words in the media, yet my feeling of helplessness was transformed into something far more positive during yoga.

I am also helping in a small way by donating money to ROKPA, a non-profit, non-religious charity based in Scotland’s Samye Ling monastery. ROKPA have for many years worked in Nepal helping Tibetan children, and following the quake have launched an appeal to help the ROKPA children’s home in Kathmandu. Please give a little to this charity, or any other collecting for Nepal, if you can.

Continue reading A prayer for Nepal

Woodland Adventurers head further afield

 

Walking into the woods
Walking into the woods

The sun was certainly shining down on us for our second Woodland Adventurers session this term, as we eagerly headed out into the woods, wearing even fewer layers than last week. We were greeted with a very welcome sight as we walked through the first field into the woods; what appeared to be hundreds of sheep with their newborn lambs, some of them only days old.

Sheep glorious sheep
Sheep glorious sheep

Indeed, it was surprising to see so many sheep in one place, even more so for the children who are welcoming only their third spring on this earth.

Fresh eyes

All the children were amazed by the sheep, particularly one little boy who kept repeating over and over again ‘more sheep‘, as if he couldn’t really believe his eyes. Yet another example of how when I adjust my viewing lens, the way I look at the world, and really connect and listen to what young children are actually saying, I am blown away by their wisdom and the many wonders nature presents us with everyday. Yes there were many sheep, and yes isn’t that amazing.

Splashing in the stream
Splashing in the stream

The children’s awe was infectious. All the adults stared at the sheep with fresh eyes, watching the lambs frolic, feed and follow their mothers. The one down side to these new arrivals was that we really had to watch our step, to avoid the many piles of sheep dung which littered our path! The stream proved very useful, therefore, for not only playing poo sticks in, but also washing sheep poo off our wellies! All the more reason to still wear over-trousers even in dry spring weather, to protect our clothing from animal dung as well as mud and brambles, which children are always attracted to and manage to find, even on very dry days. Continue reading Woodland Adventurers head further afield

Stepping into spring with the Woodland Adventurers

A new term

Playdough activity
Tessa and another little girl enjoying the playdough activity

The Woodland Adventurers returned from the Easter break with spring very much in their step. We both welcomed a new little boy into the group and waved another one off, as he progressed to Forest School. Welcoming in the spring with the milder temperatures and the drier ground underfoot, the birdsong overhead and the carpet of wild flowers opening below, it really was great to be back. The turn of the seasons means the children can stay out longer in the woods and explore further, with the added bonus of less outer clothing. Wonderful. Continue reading Stepping into spring with the Woodland Adventurers