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Forest School News

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Winter (spring) Term 1

Botley Brambles


Botley Brambles is happening! We are in the final stages of planning but the pop-up club for Forest School should be running after Half-Term Break in February 2024!
 

  • It will be £6 per child per session. (payable via ParentPay or the office)
  • Sessions run from 15:15 to 17:00 and children will need to attend the full session.
  • Currently the club will be only open to KS2 children.
  • Currently sessions will run twice a month.
  • Children MUST have their water bottles for each session.
  • Children MUST have their own kit including boots/wellies.

 

Once we have all the details finalised, we will announce the club on ParentPay, Classlist, and posters will be put up around the school.

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Winter is here and so is the weather!

I have had a few questions from parents asking if Forest School will be going ahead if the weather is cold. The answer is yes. We enjoy all the seasons and all weathers unless it could cause any danger to us, such as extreme gales and storms. Providing your child with the correct clothing for school will also provide your child with the correct clothing for Forest School as we can give them over-trousers to protect from the wet weather, but layers are the most effective way of keeping your child warm. We also play games before we head into the Forest School areas to help warm us all up. If the weather is an issue we will end the session early to get warmed up in school. 

 

Apologies for my absence at the end of last year. I had to take a few weeks rest after illness. 

 

The Winter Term (spring term) in Forest school is a very interesting time of year as our sites become stripped off leaves and take on a difference atmosphere. A fire is lit for most sessions to keep us warm and help us cook marshmallows and popcorn. Children are encouraged to seek our "ice treasure" where water has frozen in various receptacles capturing a leaf, stick or berry to hold up to the sun. 

 

Some children will find the Snowdrops pushing through the hard earth and the tracks of small animals (mainly the Woodland Cats!) left in the frost and snow. 

Thank you so much for the help of KBS Roofing who kindly supplied and installed our new Woodland shed roof making such a difference to our sessions and keeping our equipment safe and dry! Thank you to Stephen Harness with FOBS for organising this!

 

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Autumn 2 Term

For the second half of the Autumn term we have the following classes attending Forest School:

 

  • Sycamore Year 6
  • Hawthorn Year 5
  • Chestnut Year 3
  • Ladybird R & Butterfly N
  • PGL Week: Apple Year 1, Hawthorn & Lilac Year 5, Chestnut Year 3, and Ladybird R and Butterfly N

 

As the weather cools and autumn colours shine ever bright, we have been appreciating these with our sessions learning the names of our trees from their beautiful leaves. Some of the names we are learning are underlined: Cherry being the most popular for its stunning colours, Sycamore for the size of its leaves, Oak for their wibbly-wobbly shape leaves, and Hawthorn for their bright red berries. 

 

We have been practicing with our Forest School tools too. Our woodland provides lots of resources to use such as coppiced wood like Willow, Hazel, Elder, and Dogwood. We can use these woods to whittle, carve, weave or build with. Our new pond which we dug out last year is settling in with many sightings of frogs. It needs a natural fence built around it so that classes have begun to build this using Elder stakes sharpened with a knife, bashed into the grown using a mallet, and then woven with branches to fill in the gaps. 

We have also finally (due to the site being cleared) planted up our Withy Bed! Hawthorn & Lilac classes set to cutting Willow lengths from the Quad Garden, sharpening the ends with knives, and bashing them into the ground at the back of the Nature Reserve near the stream. Fingers-crossed that they will grow well and produce lots of growth for us to use in the future by coppicing them.

 

In November, we had a donation of 105 "working wood" tree saplings from The Woodland Trust. A stunning variety of native trees such as English Oak, Grey Willow, Silver Birch, Rowan, Wild Cherry, and Field Maple. These trees will provide the school with a good source of materials for future Forest School sessions. Oak for fuel, Willow for weaving, Birch for woodwork, fire-lighting and fuel, Rowan for craftwork, Cherry for firewood, and Maple for carving. These trees will also provide the school beautiful foliage, fruit, nuts, and bark but aid to our continued plan to increase the biodiversity within the woodland.

 

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Autumn 1 Term

Another great start to a new school year!

This term we have had the following classes:

  • Year 4 Silver Birch tree class,
  • Year 5 Lilac tree class,
  • Year 2 Poplar tree class,
  • Year 1 Apple tree class,
  • Reception and Nursery - Ladybird class and Butterfly class.


At the beginning of each year there is a recap of the Forest School Rules so the children know their boundaries and the school's expectations. 

 

We begin with learning to use a Fire Steel (magnesium ferrocerium rod) to light a fire. This is done into a sea shell on to cotton wool, which encourages the children to strengthen their fine motor skills, practice perseverance and patience and when they succeed there is a huge sense of achievement and courage which they can share with their class to help others do the same.

 

The next session continues practicing with the fire steel but in groups to start, maintain and extinguish their group fire using materials around the Woodland. This encourages the children to work together as a team and understand how to locate certain materials in nature to help them. They learn about the 'fire triangle' and that fire will not work without either Oxygen, fuel, or heat. Maintaining a fire is the tricky part; learning that they need to build up the heat level starting with kindling and progressing up to larger sticks and logs. They then need to extinguish their fire without means of water. This teaches them to think outside of the box about other ways to do this such as using soil or sand to remove the heat and Oxygen. They then need to demonstrate how they know their fire is out. Most children will notice that there is no flames or smoke, but we look for any residual heat by placing our hand above the area. 

 

The following session a fire is pre-lit for the children. This is to acclimatise them to a fire, the heat and smoke. They are allowed to sit near it - adopting the correct stance (a proposal position on one knee to allow them to spring backwards in the event of a situation), burn sticks in the fire, try different things to see how they burn, and we talk about the anatomy of a fire and how the embers are the best part of a fire to cook with. 

 

Towards the end of the term we have a marshmallow toasting session to celebrate their achievement. (marshmallows given are all Dandies Vegan Marshmallows). They learn how to put a marshmallow on a stick, be lower than the heat of a fire, use the embers to toast rather than burn their marshmallow and sit back to enjoy it.

 

Sessions in the Apple Grove have been for encouraging play using natural and some manmade items such as plastic tubes. These become communication pipes, apple throwers, ship masts, and towers. The children have lots of pans and pots to set up various mud kitchens around the site making use of mud, grass, Rowan berries and leaves and lots of rainwater. Clay is on standby for children wanting a calmer place in the shelter to focus. 

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'Botley Brambles' - After School Forest School Club

We are currently in discussion about organising an After School Forest School Club which would be part of the current After School Club. Full details will be sent out on ClassList.

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Forest School Calendar

The Forest School Calendar is now available for the entire year. Whilst we hope that this remains as it is, sometimes it has to be tweeked to allow for staff. Any changes will appear here.

 

Please click here to view: www.botleyschool.org.uk/forest-school-calendar/

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Back to School

I hope everyone had a good summer break. With a new year at school a few reminders to mention. 

 

  • Please make sure that you have completed a child medical form and returned this to the school so that we are all aware of any situations which might affect a Forest School session. 
     
  • Remember to pack any inhalers, etc
     
  • Please make sure your child has the correct kit for Forest School - as long as legs and arms are covered and parents/carers do not mind if these clothes get smoky, torn, muddy, etc. This will help your child to really enjoy the Forest School experience.
     
  • Walking Boots or similar are particularly good in Forest School but Wellies are fine too. Sorry - no shoes or trainers as they are not able to grip well in the mud.
     
  • In hot weather, the clothing rules are relaxed in favour of safety and preventing over-heating.
  • In rainy weather, please provide a waterproof coat. We will provide waterproof over-trousers.
  • In cold weather, please provide a warm coat, hat, gloves, scarf, etc - ALL LABELLED.
     
  • A water bottle is really important. The child are climbing, running, chasing and they need water to refresh.

 

 

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Forest School 2022/23 Feedback Results

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Year 6 Sycamore Class S'more Off Party

As a special treat I organised a special 'S'more Off' for Year 6 - Sycamore tree class's last session at Botley School.

 

I provided a lot of marshmallows (Dandies vegan marshmallows), biscuits, chocolate, icing, caramel, sauces, sprinkles, and sweets (all vegetarian?. The children whilst very interested in all the sweets needed to toast their marshmallows, then construct their best S'more and be voted by the class for the best one.
 

 

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Year 5 Cedar Tree Class - Kindness Trees

Cedar Class - Year 5 have been spreading a bit of Kindness and considering others. They have been writing their best wishes to others in their class on ribbons and hung on our Nature Reserve trees for everyone to see. 

 

   

   

 

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Summer Term 1

Thankfully, not a hot summer as last year!
 

We have been concentrating on our fire lighting skills where the children have been organised into groups and have been selecting a suitable site, gathering kindling, lighting their fire, maintaining their fire, and extinguishing the fire after. The children have also demonstrated their fire safety by understanding that fire must be only used with an adult present.
 

Year 6 help by gathering wood to make their ‘bear cave’ in the nature reserve area. This will be developed over time and by other classes. We have also hung a tyre swing at the back of the woods for the children to enjoy at this area didn't have much to engage with. Clay play is always a favourite of the children - they are allowed to produce nature inspired items to take home as well as tree spirits which give our wonderful trees an identity.

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Spring Term 2

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Spring Term 1

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