It’s the school holidays and that means Wild Wednesdays! This Wednesday was wild art themed so we had loads of great arty activities for the kids to do; including tree and leaf rubbings, making faces, insects and clay pressings out of woodland forage and filling in a giant bumblebee collage on the woodland floor. While it wasnt that warm, we did have a dry day with patches of sunshine and it was a lot busier than our Wild Wednesday in February when it poured with rain all morning (see, It feels like spring already.).
The following day we ran our first Woodland Adventure Day in Fairy Wood. Rachel worked very hard organising and setting up all of the activities and Alex and I were there to help out on the day.
We started off by getting the kids involved in some sensory activities where the kids got into pairs and one of them wore a blindfold while the other had to lead or instruct them. for one of them, we had set up a route, with a rope for the blindfolded to hold and follow, which ran around and between trees and stumps, over roots and up and down slopes. Their partner had to give verbal instructions to help them navigate the route safely.
It was quite chaotic at first and interesting to see how differently the children who were giving the instructions took to the task. Some of them were very careful about the instructions, talking constantly about what was in their partners immediate environment, exactly where the trees were and what was on the ground in front of their feet and how they should move to avoid the obstacles. Others couldn’t quite get to grips with the fact that their partners couldn’t see, using hand gestures instead of verbal communication and saying things like ‘that way’ or ‘go around the tree’ without giving any other details or direction. However, every couple improved as they went and, when they swapped the blindfold over, those that had been blindfolded before tended to understand more about the instructions required and how important the accuracy of their communication was for their partners to have safe passage. They also seemed to trust each other a lot even when they were being lead by people they had not met before – more trust than I had when I was being lead by Rachel earlier that day.
After a snack break all of the children had a go at setting light to cotton wool with a fire steel – which is effectively like creating a spark with flints – and then they made make-shift firelighters by sandwiching a blob of vaseline between two balls of cotton wool. These firelighters, which turned out to be incredibly effective, were placed at the centre of the hearth where Alex proceeded to make a fire for some open-fire cooking after lunch.
In the afternoon we had an hour or so for wild art and play time in the woods. Most of the boys got involved in den building – we had two tribes building rival dens – there was bug hunting, and clay pressing and making leaf prints by hammering leaves between sheets of muslin cloth.
While this was all going on we hollowed out twenty oranges and mixed up some chocolate cake batter with the help of the kids. The batter was spooned into the orange moulds before wrapping them in tin foil and placing them into the fire to bake.
We gathered everyone together again when the cakes were ready and, while we ate them (they were delicious chocolate orange cake with gooey melted chocolate chips in them – yum!), we had a sharing about what our favourite parts of the day were – I think most of them said the cake, but I wonder how much that was because they were scoffing it at the time. We finished off by making some popcorn over the fire with our nifty homemade campfire popcorn toaster and sharing it around before saying our goodbyes.
It was such a brilliant day. All of the kids, no matter their age, were very involved and confident in contributing to the activities and discussions and I particularly enjoyed witnessing the cooperation and camaraderie shown within the different teams and partnerships that formed throughout the day. I think that, with the help of the parents and the kids, we were successful in creating a very open, relaxed and wild learning environment for everyone there – including us. I am definitely looking forward to more Woodland Adventure Days.