Appleton Forest School

UPDATE - Now moved to Friday!

Every Monday 10am Lumb Brook Valley

£5 per child

We've been running forest school sessions for our 'regulars' since February 2015 and its been a lot of fun!

 EXPLORE!

EXPLORE!

Looking back of our sessions my first thought  is one of pride. I've seen Forest School build our pupils' confidence grow in leaps and bounds. Ranging from 2 to 14 year olds at first there was trepidation with going off path and into the Brook but soon this became normal so every session begins with a dip in the stream to have a look. This is led by the children - there's always this desire to explore and investigate.

 Cooking with Fire  safely

Cooking with Fire  safely

Another regular is fire building. Fear of fire has grown into respect. Pupils can now safely identify and collect appropriate firewood - deadwood, tinder, kindling and logs, build a fire and light it with a flint and steel. We've made char cloth and cooked on the fire. We've developed and agreed safety rules which we all follow. This is something we can only do with the express permission of the land owner - so thank you Woodland Trust - and is carried out in a 'leave no trace' way.

             Hazel identified  and ripe for coppicing

            Hazel identified  and ripe for coppicing

Most sessions we use tools to make something. We've learnt to identify plants and in particular hazel.

 A hazel hurdle/habitat pile made by 2 - 14 year olds and parents.

A hazel hurdle/habitat pile made by 2 - 14 year olds and parents.

Lumb Brook Valley has an abundance of hazel and with the permission of the Woodland Trust we've been coppicing hazel (cutting it back). Coppicing makes hazel live for longer and develops an understory - leave hazel too long and it turns into quite a large tree. This reduces the burden of maintenance by the trust so hopefully we're saving them money to spend on other things. By cutting it back every 12 years or so you prevent it turning into a tree  and help the herb layer get more light. At Lumb Brook that means more bluebells!

Using a bow saw, loppers, bill hook and knife we've used hazel for:

  • Den Building
  • Raising a fire pan off the ground
  • Building our fire safety tripod
  • Making handles for toasting popcorn and for our pond dipping sieves
  • Making walking sticks
  • Habitat piles for hedgehogs
  • Protecting the stream bank
  • Making a hurdle habitat fence

Our greatest achievement is that we've got children using tools safely, recognising dangers (such as a sharp blade) and taking appropriate precautions. The only injury we've had is Rawdon's pride when he fell over in the mud on a bear hunt.

What's next?

Sessions are child led so we'll see where we go but due to our passion, commitment to and love of nature we've now got another land owner on board to use even more woods in Lumb Brook Valley. We'll update you when all the paperwork is in place but this will give our pupils the  chance to develop their own site for forest school - so more exploring, more tool use, more learning and more fun.

Why not contact us to book onto a session? Have a look at our Appleton Forest School Facebook Page where we post site specific updates or alternatively our Fairy Forest School page for upcoming events.