Even with a whole month passing since our last session the children were able to talk with confidence about the things in the wood we needed to be mindful of to keep ourselves safe. Right from the start the children were mindful of walking around the fire circle and stuck to this for the majority of the session despite there being no fire or hot kettle today.
As there was a lot of new growth in the woods, the Last Session Review was supplanted somewhat by an impromptu forage walk where the children were shown different plants, some of which were edible, others protected and others invasive.
The children were interested and smelled the leaves. Had the forage site not been on a main dog walk, they would have tried some of them.
All of the children had heard the Three Little Pigs story and were familiar with the role of the wolf as “big and bad”. By using the Alternative Three Little Pig story, which tells the tale from the wolfs perspective, it was possible to engage the children in a shelter building narrative with a story both familiar and new.
We then discussed the merits of the pigs houses and their choices of building material.
The story led naturally into shelter building but the children were shown images of shelters which might be made in the woods. We discussed the different features of the shelters then the children set about making their own with tarps, string and sticks.
The children worked alone or in pairs and made use of existing shapes in the trees for the framework. Many included pegs and poles.
The children could choose to have their drink in their shelters, though some wanted to sit at the fire circle. They all took turns to use wipes, get their drinks and a biscuits.
We looked at each shelter in turn and pointed out where it had fulfilled the brief to be waterproof, warm, windproof, comfortable and hidden. All but two of the groups were happy to talk about their shelters. The children not only pointed out their construction methods but spoke about how they might improve their shelters.
Today the children seemed genuinely happy to be in the woods, enjoying being outdoors, walking in the mud and handling sticks etc.
They expressed a high level of knowledge around keeping safe as they have in previous sessions and had lots to talk about throughout the session.
During the shelter building, there was less “I can’t do it” than in other activities. This may well have been because of the free form nature of the activity or out of a sense of confidence that their efforts are valid no matter the outcome.
The groups worked well together with no arguments or negative interaction between the groups. The children were focused and enjoyed the activity.
On reflection, I realise I was not asked by any of the children to tie knots for them! This is quite unusual in a group and a step forward for this group from earlier sessions.
The dynamics today were superb. The children had such a positive attitude to all aspects of the session. It felt as though they were squeezing every last drop of enjoyment out of the afternoon. After the tidying up we discussed that this would probably be the last session in this programme and all of the children expressed regret that that was the case.