Group 1 Autumn 2016

We made maps of ‘Thornley woods’.


  • Through the gate and into the dark woods.
  • Collecting acorns, leaves, flowers and sticks.

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  • Finding a hole in the ground. ‘I’m digging to see what’s down it’ -Lacey- ‘Maybe there’s a rabbit down the hole.’-Max


Down the tricky trolls steps, a troll had

  • made the steps uneven to trick the children and make them trip and fall.
  • Crossing over on the bridge – trip trapping – with big loud steps to frighten off any trolls.
  • Closing our eyes for a whole minute and listening to the farthest away sounds.

Phoenix heard birds ‘Up in there in the trees’ and Robyn ‘The river, slithering along, over by the Troll bridge’.

  • Climbing the ‘100 steps’.
  • Discovering the ‘BIG TALL trees’.


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  • Making camp, putting up the rainbow flag and going over our woodland rules.
  • Making ‘Little dens for spiders’-Kate and Emma- ‘Big dens to camp in’
  • Stirring witchy potions ‘That might poison you’-Robyn or ‘Heal you’ – Nicolo
  • Mining using ‘Our pick axes for diamonds and gold –Nicolo, ‘Iron that’s underground’ – Max and ‘A golden sword’-Jayden.
  • Drinking hot chocolate and eating sweet pears.

Group 4 Spring

We shall not cease from explorationIMG_5987
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.
~~ T.S. Eliot, Four Quartets



We encountered all weathers known to man, woman and child during our six sessions in the woods. We started out bright and sunny in February and ended in lashing rain in April.IMG_6324


Group 4 children were great gathers and makers. We introduced them to making woodland art. Working on art opens ours eyes to see the ordinary and everyday things in a new way.IMG_6175

mc K basket


The children began by scavenging the forest floor, collecting sticks at first then other ‘loose natural materials. The sticks form a frame then the children are invited to fill the space with their collected materials.

Some work delicately, making patterns, some arrange them in a sequence, some work on a big scale, some work independently, others collaboratively; but all are attentive to what they are creating. Over the weeks some children return again and again to this art making, collecting and a making beautiful arrangements.


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Hayley sits at her arrangement of natural things “My bricks n stones n rocks and pinecones” and shouts “Who wants to buy my collection?” And so the exchange begins.

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Many of the children set up shop, and in amongst the selling and trading there is much negotiating and cooperation.

Hayley “ Where the leaves hang off the tree, that’s where the money bank is !”                                 Carmen “ Mines a Guffalo’s dinner, I have to keep a care of them.”                                                    Taylor “I will buy them from you, How much?”                                                                                    Carmen “Its 2p.”

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Sticks are used to build dens and Marc becomes an expert with Taylor always there supporting him, fetching and carrying the big sticks, whilst Marc places and arranges them. We show them the ‘wolf test’ – how to make sure a den is always safe before you enter it, especially if you haven’t built it. But sometimes Marc is not building a den but a structure, like a sculpture – something not practical and functional but a thing of beauty.

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The rhododendron shrub is used as a den and a good hiding place but Joshua finds another use for it, he strikes the leaves using sticks like he’s playing the drums. and when not drumming he builds “Stick houses for all the animals to be safe and quite”

Sticks are also used to climb up hills and help you out of the Rat hole.Screen Shot 2016-03-17 at 09.14.01 Screen Shot 2016-03-17 at 09.12.56

They measure with them finding the biggest and the smallest and Darren makes an excellent sling shot.

Over the weeks the children become prolific in their creating, making their own Talking sticks, wands and Boggins. and always drawing and capturing special moments in their sketch books.

IMG_6636 Screen Shot 2016-04-16 at 15.26.28Screen Shot 2016-03-17 at 09.11.42 Lacey showe IMG_6169

Group 3 Winter

During January and February we had some pretty stormy weather. The children were always happy to be out in it and never complained. They were full of mischief and mayhem as they hunted for Guffaloes, witches and signs of Wild things and we did find Max’s crown ! Which thy wore with pride!                                                                                                                                         David “It’s Max’s. He was king of the monsters so he left it here for us to find !” and later we discovered Max had left his wand-staff too!                                                                                 McKenzie “ We didn’t know it was there- we’re really good finders aren’t we?”inboys

Up banks and down hills, over streams and through mud – banging a drum and having a wild rumpus we made the woods our own.





As well as being loud and wild the children were able to sit quietly, with eyes closed and listen to the wind, the water and the bird song.eyes 3

In amongst the dips and streams in Thornley woods we found a mysterious mud hole, with bubbling water.

Sean “It’s like hot chocolate, I think it’s the witch’s head hole.”

McKenzie scooped up some of the liquid and poured it into a bowl “I’m stirring some leaves in too, it’s for the wild thing- for its food.”                                                                                                    And so the children began to make potions.Lewis

Lewis, “This is for the witches to drink, and they get poisoned, they get no nose, no ears and no mouth, no eyes and no nose!”

Amy likes to immerse herself in the mixing, hers is a muddy potion, stirred with a stick,

“This is like team work. We’re making the water absolutely rotten aren’t wuh?”

Caitlyn “It’s to put in the glass bottle and keep it special.”                                                                       Amy “Yeah I’m going to help you tip it in, aren’t I?”


Ruby and KB are huddled together.

Ruby “We’ve put dead slugs in this witch potion. It’s a worm and slug smelly potion.”

KB “It powers the witch into a bear.”

Ruby “A bear that would live in the woods”

I ask who would you rather meet, a witch or a bear?                                                                         Ruby “A witch ,a witch, a lovely witch.”                                                                                                         KB “What about it being a transformer witch?”

In the little gullies and ditches Evie discovers more magic – ‘Rainbow water’                                     Brooke quickly scopes it up into her dish “It’s to turn witches into a rainbow, that’ll make them all kind, then they will be our friends.”

rainbow dish


Wrapping coloured fabric around some sticks the girls make wands to help them caste their spells and magic.


Jayden ties a fir branch to a stick “It’s a big fan,” which he holds up to himself“I can disappear, so the Wildthings won’t see me !”


Across the streams, bridges were made and dames built. Sean was the first to build a small den for “A little Guffalo” and soon everyone is helping. Some prefer to make traps, traps to help catch the bad creatures in the woods.Screen shot 2016-01-14 at 10.54.23 traps kb

Brayden “It’s a trap for a troll.”

Jayden “Yeah he’s going to fall over it, I have an idea, what we need is a big log to trip him over, then we’ll have him !”





Some of the children enjoyed looking for smaller creatures, especially Brooke, who was always eager to move big logs and turn them over.

search worm

Brooke “I might find spiders, beetles and frogs… Look it’s a woodlice –I think he likes to be in the mud. Watch you don’t stand on him!”

More logs are turned over.                                                                                                                     Ruby “Ugh! Slugs! They are horrible!” Urgh it’s massive. It’s the Mammy one!”                                   Brooke carefully picks it up “Got yah”                                                                                                         Ruby “Look there’s more in that little family hole, I’m gonna pick one up too.”                                     Lewis “I’m going to get one.”

As they crowd and jostle around I remind them to be gentle with them and put them back afterwards.                                                                                                                                              Lewis “In case they get lost.”                                                                                                                      Ruby “We know, we are kind and we love them so.”                                                                                After showing other children the creatures they carefully put them back on the log then the girls pile dead leaves on them.                                                                                                             Brooke “We buried them so no-one can see them.”                                                                               Lewis “And they will be safe.”

Screen shot 2016-01-14 at 11.03.17At the end of each session, whilst sipping hot chocolate and munching on fruit, the children are given the opportunity to reflect on their sessions.

Ruby “I like these woods”                                                                                                                           KB “I like the woods too!”                                                                                                                           Ruby “Can we come again and again to these witchy woods?”



Group 2 Autumn 2

“Children are happier healthier and more creative when they are connected to the natural world. This should be an option not just for the few but for every child in the UK.”              Wildlife Trust UK                                                                                                                               On 4 Nov 2015 The Wildlife Trusts launched a new initiative to make ‘Every Child Wild‘.

How lucky that here at Hilton Academy, groups of Year 1 children were out in the woods every week up till Christmas having access to wild experiences in all kinds of weathers!

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This group were great gathers of sticks, all kinds of sticks. Sticks can be something practical, a flicker, a poker, a shift-things-a-rounder. v It provides a starting point for an active imagination and the raw materials for transformation into almost anything! The children explored structure and form through shelter building. Many little shelters were created and furnished.

Eleesha “For squirrels and beetles.”                                                                                              Chelsea “For squirrels and all their nuts.”

coneboth G

Both the Georgia girls ‘connected’ their little dens with, “pathways and front gardens.”

Billy and Jordan often sketched out their designs before they built them.                               Jordan “This is the Forest house that Billy will build for me!”      

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Lucas used his stick as a wand, “To magic bad trolls away.”

With so much rain the streams and pools were over flowing and puddles and pathways became muddy ravines. Kaitlin was never happier than when in the ‘deep deep mud’ and became a real mud expert! “You have to watch out else that crocodile will eat your stick!”

With their sticks they explored the edges of puddles, their explorations becoming exuberant, slapstick, full of laughter!

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Pulling up their sleeves, and flexing their mussels – huge sticks and logs were lugged and moved and bridges were made. From the banks and edges they cast their fishing sticks into the waters, catching all manner of fishy things.

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Conrad with the help of his friends was able to carry a ‘humongous’ stick from one end of the woods to another.

They loved the ‘squelchy, sticky, goopy mud!’ The mud was scooped and stirred into pans. Potions were made.IMG_5317

Jordan “To turn naughty children good”

Chelsea “Make wicked, witches lovely.”

Kenzie “We are making cement, we’re working together, we’re fixing things.”

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They climbed trees and settled in amongst the branches listening to the birds, with the winter sun on their faces.

Tucker “From up here you can see the birds in the clouds.”Screen shot 2015-11-26 at 09.07.53

Kenzie “I can see everything from up here.”


This group could be quiet and calm. They were able to sit still with their eyes closed and listen to the sounds of the woods all around them, for a whole minuet and a half.

Tucker “I heard the silent sound of the rain dropping”Screen shot 2015-11-17 at 11.39.33

Lucas “I heard the birds tweeting.”

Chelsea “I could hear the waterfall.”

At Chopwell woods during December the children chose two Christmas trees to take back to the classroom.

Billy “Wow I never seen anything like this before!” As he gazed up into the forest where fairy lights had been hung up amongst the fir trees.Screen shot 2015-12-04 at 16.13.05IMG_5683


These children really did engage with the landscape and experienced it in all weathers, they were not only great explorers, climbers and builders but were able to take quiet time to notice and look at the beauty around them.





Year one Autumn 2015

Welcome to our woodland adventure blog, where we will be sharing the excitement, discovery and learning inspired by our weekly visits to the woods.

This blog is for parents and children to share at home and aims to highlight some of the ongoing learning happening down in the woods…and back in the classroom.

Mr Quinn (teacher) and Jyl (our resident Forest school leader) take the children every Wednesday morning in the school minibus (which the children have already renamed the Minions bus!) to a nearby wood. We have been going to Chopwell woods but many children prefer to call it ‘Chopwild woods.’

The children have been calm and capable explorers as  the woods have become more familiar to them over the last few weeks

We have been exploring the different areas in Chopwell woods and the children have been helped to face challenges. We go as Kira says“Deep into the woods, that’s where the forest is.”                                           

 The children have clambered up hills, scooted and shuffled down banks on their bottoms and raced up and down slopes.

down hill hill2

slope mud jake


They have jumped up and down in the squelchy mud and lost wellies to it.     Alzara pond

Junior “It’s like quick sand, you can’t see your feet.”                                                          Alzahraa “ It’s like a lagoon. Lets get a stick and poke it in to see how deep it is-Do NOT go in if it’s bigger than the stick!”



They have collected sticks and filled their baskets with fir cones and leaves and made woodland art.W 2





On our initial walk about the children discovered the giant’s hands sculpture and then a carved wooden bat. They listened to the story of how the giant and the bat were trapped there in the forest.hand

There was a giant who lived in the forest and helped everyone who got lost to find their way home or anyone who got stuck in the mud or on a steep bank. Everyone loved the giant because he was so helpful. There was an evil witch that lived on the edge of the forest and she hated the giant because he was so nice and kind and helpful.

She used her magic wand to trick the giant and the ground swallowed him up, leaving only his hands sticking out of the ground. Everyone was so upset that the giant had been trapped they didn’t dare go into the forest. The witch made sure they tripped up and fell in the ditches or got trapped in a bush or stuck in the mud. The giant had a friend who was a good witch and when she heard about the nasty trick the bad witch had played on the giant she turned herself into a bat and flew into the forest to help him escape.

look upThe children were enthralled by the story and especially fascinated by the witchy spells. They asked that next time they could make their own potions in the forest. So on our next visit shiny bowls and tiny glass bottles were offered and the whole group set about making potions and casting spells which they captured in their books.


Nsser “I want to make a regeneration potion.”     Cleouio                                              

But most waned to make a bad potion

Logan “I’m using bad berries and berry blood.”                                               

Kira “Mine will turn people into frogs.”                                                        

Brandon  “I’m going to trap fog in my potion!”                                                   

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Junior “I’m going to chuck this potion that smells like rotten berries onto the bad witch to turn her into a frog!”         

book2 books                                                      




Week 6 Group 5

For this group’s last session we visited ‘Gibside, Pleasure gardens.’       lush                                               I asked Frankie how he felt about going to a new place.

“Great, excited, I like to go to new places.”

Heavy rain and winds were forecast and while the wind howled around us, fortunately the rain didn’t make an appearance, but the sun did.

Following the tranquil river Derwent, we took the long path up towards the birthday party area, where we made camp. With the sun on our backs walking along this riverside, we all slowed down and drank in the beauty of the surroundings.


Huge clumps of giant leaved plants were spotted.

Leon “Wow look at those Ginormus leaves!”

Jordyn “They look like dock leaves”

Buttercups are thrust under chins, with a chorus of ‘Do you like butter?’


Leaves and flowers are picked and studied.

Kelsey spots little creatures inside the buttercups

butter butter 1

“Look little baby bugs” As she counts themjess

Jessica studies the petals of her flower; intently “Look purple flower with a stalk growing on it.”





arms outJordyn runs up with here arms flung open, face up to the sky “Look, look at them big trees!”




Dandelion clocks are blown, slugs caressed, feathers found, stones fill pockets and sticks are gathered and carried.


stonesstick boy joe

On approaching a bank they all start hurling themselves up it, some effortlessly pulling

bankthemselves up by the roots of the trees, others finding it a little trickier –but eventually they all manage to get up.  Once they’re up the bank they discover ‘holes like caves.’

Steven “It’s a place for little Santa”

beech nutsThere’s a carpet of beechnuts which are soon scoped up, and all kinds of stuff for Kelsey to build a house for ‘a spider an beetle.

Some pull themselves up into the trees-kelsey tree

Kelsey “We’re kings of the forest!”



Getting back down is just as much fun – most of the children go for sliding on bottoms. We stash are booty of sticks, bark and leaves by the bank to pick up on our way back.

Dylan “But what happens if a rabbit jumps in it and makes it its home?”

The children spot the river running intermittently through the sunlit trees and are delighted when we come to a clearing and they can all get close to the water.waterfall

“Water, water!” Shouts Alan excitedly waving his arms around.

Dylan “Can we jump in it?”

Stones and leaves are instinctively thrown in, Imogen “Did you see that splash that made? It was amazing!”

Kelsey “It smells nice”

Jessica “Its got bubbles in, do fish live in here?”

Kelsey “Wish this was my bath, all the splashing water over my face- Be nice wouldn’t it?”fishing

New friendships are made, Joseph and Maida ‘fish’ with sticks on their ‘island’

Frankie and Alan swap stones in-between racing ahead on their pretend dirt bikes with sound effects! Soon they are all on motorbikes and when we reach the camp they flop down – exhausted!


moter all bikes


Once again we revisit the task of making woodland art, this time some of the group make beautiful unprompted pieces, while others enjoy gathering materials. Some choose to work independently others work together. There is no right or wrong ways and all are respected.

joe jess n imo hand frankie stones

Our time is sadly soon over, so little time to make or reflect today–however it’s been an afternoon of delights. We head back down the riverside walk –fortunately it’s all downhill! Everyone is tired and hot, but nobody complains and the trip back to school is quieter and more reflective than normal;

Kelesy“That was lovely.”

Alana“I will miss the woods.”

Frankie“I really, really loved being on me motorbike up there –wish we were going again!”

Joryden “Can we go again?”

Leon“Will we get to go next year?”

boys all girls

Week 5 Group 5

By now these woods are familiar to the children. “Yeah! Thornley woods, where the troll bridges are!”

We take a different path that leads us into the woods.IMG_4196_frankie

Kelsey “A secret way where we never been before.”

Leon “No one will no where we are.”

Alana “It’s ok, we know the woods.”

Frankie “And we won’t get lost!”                                                                                                       Frankie was really anxious about coming to the woods afraid “We’d loose our way and not find our way back to school”-now he so relaxed and enthusiastic about coming out into the woods.

“I love these woods.” Imogen sings out loud as she dances about.


Leon “If we see a fox you must run away. When people get too close the fox will snatch them.”

Kelsey “Only rabbits live here.”

Steven “Yeah bouncy and fluffy ones.”

As we walk deep into the woods we don’t see any foxes or rabbits but plenty of ants, beetles, worms and spiders are spotted.

Steven  “Worms don’t like birds, that’s why they live under soil- the birds use their beaks to get to the worms, to peck them out. Birds breath through the holes in their beaks!”

We reach the bridge and the children shout out,  “Yeah our bridge.”

Leon “Look there’s the troll’s house.”bridge

Imogen “I can see the troll!”

Jessica “He’s sneaking under the bridge.”

It’s been raining heavily over the last few days so the river is pretty full.

Kelsey “Look they have added a bit more river!”

The children have been painting concentric circles back at school and are quick to point out the ones made when throwing stones into the water.circles


We stop for a full three minutes to listen to the sounds of the woods, pretty amazing considering only five weeks ago they couldn’t stay still and quite for just a minute!


The children run ahead shouting, “Look our steps!” These woods are their woods now as they search out familiar parts.alana look

Alana “I can remember these woods, we climbed that really BIG hill- we went up, right up that hill!”

joealan blow

Baskets are filled and the children marvel at the lushness of the woods; dandelion clocks are blown and flowers studied and picked.

jess blossom

Leon is still mainly interested in holes “I’m a hole collector.”

Alana “These are for me Mam –are they supposed to be blossom?”

The children are also getting used to using the iPad to take their own photos of what interests them.

We come across someone else’s den, Imogen is the first to check it’s safe by giving it the ‘Wolf test’, blowing on it and giving it a good shake.dylan

Jessica “This is our house.”

Dylan “It’s nice and strong,” as he pulls himself up into the branches.


Our task this afternoon is to create some woodland art.

Sticks are used to create a frame, the enclosed area cleared away, leaving bare earth. Then using what we have gathered in our baskets and what’s on the forest floor, the children create faces and patterns and even their names.

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steven face3


And Maida created a whole world-maida

“This is his ears, nose, mouth and chin. And this is the table to eat food off with vegetables to eat; his friend- he can jump from here to here (over the leaves) and this is his toys he can play with and that is his bed, his teddy bear to fall asleep with and snuggle.”

Week 4 Group 5

The children are very imaginative inventive and thoughtful today, even on the bus well before we get into the woods they are full of ideas and reflections. This afternoon we tell the children we are going to another part of Chopwell woods-a place they haven’t been to yet.woods

Leon  “Trees are not forests- they are woods. We’ve only been to the ‘Puddle Chopwild woods’ – we’re going to the forest today – aren’t we?”                                                                                             (Many of the children have renamed Chopwell woods Chopwild woods!)

Dylan “If a bear chases you, you have to lie down with your eyes open- then he’ll think you’re dead and he’ll just run away!”

Leon “You know them trees, at the woods, well they are called the forest too. Some people don’t like the forest ‘cos they are full of wolves. We would be in trouble if we were chased by wolves, we would have to run away, fast, wouldn’t we? Wolves have sharp teeth.”

So I reply  “Well, I‘ve not heard that there are any wolves here in these woods, so we should be alright!”                                                                                                                                            Leon “It’s ok, adults are here to protect us from the wolves!”                                                                   Then just as I’m beginning to wonder what I’d do if I saw a wolf in the woods, he‘s thinking of something else…

Leon ” Why is the sky following us!”

Alan’s “It’s not following us- it’s ‘cos we are in the bus.”

Imogen “Why is the sky blue?

Alana  “Because it’s supposed to be blue, that’s the colour it is!”

Imogen “I think it’s blue when it doesn’t rain”

Maida “It’s black, as well.”

Leon “And white”

Alana “It doesn’t turn grey, that’s just clouds. At nighttime the sky is still there, it’s just too dark to see it!

Maida “It’s black, so you can see the stars at night.”

Jordyn is looking out of the bus window musing at the big houses that we pass.                     Jordyn “I will live in this house, no this house, I live here, next to the woods with my mummy and sister and daddy and we would go to the woods.  We go every day to the woods, Wow a white house-too lovely- I have one of them, yes I like it here very much.”

Once at the woods we make ‘Boggins.’ (little woodland creatures)The children start looking for sticks – elbow to finger size. They each get a ball of clay, then set about looking for suitable materials to push into the clay, for eyes, noses and ears etc to make their boggins.jyl leon

joy alan

At first most stay close to camp, but as they look for materials they begin to explore further. Pinecone, acorns, leaves and twigs are all scavenged, poked and pressed into the clay heads.

jessica alanaimogen


Sticks are always a great interest, providing the starting point for an active imagination and the raw material for transformation. Steven lists all his sticks.broom steven

Steven “I had a broom stick and I was pretending to be Harry potter. I had a stick that was a Thor- man hammer stick. A pogo stick; And my boggin stick, when I was looking for somewhere to put my boggin I found a portal, that takes you to the future – I didn’t want to go into the future ‘cos it’s all dark there, so I stayed here. It was a Candy world portal: It’s just like all the games I play at home, has come true, here in the woods. In the games it’s not ordinary grass- but here it is.”

For Joseph a stick is a constant companion.joe “I found a massive log its got leaves and blossom on.”







Kelsey and Jordyn team up and make a wonderful stick den for their boggins.girls


When not busy making boggins and finding or creating homes for them, the children run around the woods – sure-footed and full of laughter.

There was the mountain to climb up, slide down or just ‘be’ on – and gaze out over the trees.

bottoms dylan

As Dylan lay down in the sun. “Think I’ll just have a little snooze here.”

Kelsey “I could stay up here all day and at night time I’d stay up here, I’d not be frightened, I’d play with the squirrels and the owls.”kelsey

All around us the trees were swaying, the wind was wild again and Frankie thought it sounded like ‘his motorbike.’

They swung on giant branches –                                                                                                      Alana “It was wicked!”swing boys swing im

Dylan “Like a see-saw.”

Frankie “And I snapped it!”

The children of course, now expert creature finders discovered all manor of wee bugs and beasties.. k 1cent


Imogen and Jessica even managed to use the tree spotter guide to find out about the leaves in the forest.look2


And everyone went back to school and home with more than fistfuls of sticks and pocketfuls of pinecones and stones, a deeper connection with the wild time in the woods.

Week 3 Group 5

The children were very lively and noisy on the bus. As we approached Chopwell woods squirrels darted up the trees and the children whooped with delight. The rain had meant indoor play at school and they were desperate to get out and run about. Once in the woods the children were noticing and spotting and scooping everything up that they came upon.They plucked the spring green sycamore leaves, waving them in the air.

Noor “Big leaves.”                                                                                                                            Frankie “Giant leaves.”                                                                                                                  Kelsey “They’ve been nibbled by the caterpillar, or the squirrels!”


Imogen “ They turn into butterflies and they make a house called a cocoon and they stay in there for two nights.”

Imogen picked up a cluster of pine needles “ It smells delicious.” She went on to find a three-leaf clover which she put in an bag along with other things she collected, “I’m going to take them home and keep them.”                                                                                                                    Every thing is lush and green and the children run about in sheer delight.bird

They ran towards a crow and as it flew away

Kelsey “We scarred it away.”

Leon “It was a big black bird.”

Lacey “As black as night.”

But the big fascination is with all the puddles and the channels all filled with muddy water. Soon they are all puddle jumping and very quickly some become expert puddle jumpers.puddle

Noor and Maida in particular spend all the afternoon in and out of the puddles having a ‘puddliscious’ time.

Noor “I just love the mud, so much!”

This ‘messing about in the mud’ is time well spent, they stomp and splash, make patterns with their wellies, with sheer pleasure.jump

Small stones are dropped and plopped in the puddles with big flat stones sinking into the mud. Sticks are trapped and leaves float off down the swollen streams. And whirlpools are made with sticks.

Where does all water come from?

Frankie “Well from the rain!”

Joseph “Water, water every where!”

Frankie “I fell in the water and I was like a submarine – I fell ‘cos I was running too fast!”


There is a lot of creature finding, both real and imaginary.

Looking in nooks and crannies, Lacey and Kelsey delight in finding a centipede and millipede. They carefully inspect and compare the two slithering beasts. They go on to find big fat juicy slugs which they line up on a piece of bark.


Kelsey “We’re gonna make ‘em a little den, all of their own. For any kinds of creatures like that.”

Lacey “A slug house, with bed and living room!”

cousins slug girls

The two girls are deeply engaged creating this special place for their slugs, not wanting to stop – even for hot chocolate!

Imogen and Jessica construct a beautiful little den out of sticks

“It’s for the fox.”

jessLeon searches out holes and – lying flat on his tummy – he peers down one under a tree –

Who is down the hole, I ask?

Leon “Well a rat and a mouse and squirrel and a rabbit, they are all down there!”

Gosh it doesn’t look big enough


“Its a little rat and a little rabbit- I’m not going to tell you what they are doing! Oh all right: They’re watching telly in the kitchen!”

Imogen found a three-leaf clover and other things that she put into a little bag “I’m going to take it home and put it somewhere safe and special.”

IMG_3887_stone boy

Joseph collected armfuls of rocks and sticks, “These are special heavy stones.”

And Steven and Frankie worked as a team, heaving big logs.

It’s very windy and the tall fir trees are swaying high above our heads.

Steven, Frankie and Joseph lie down on the earth and look up and share their observations.

Joseph “The pine cones are falling down because the trees are shaking –because the wind is blowing them.”

frankieup joe

Frankie “The trees are wibbling and wobbling in the sky, they look like they are gonna fall down!

Joseph “They are swishing around, they are so very tall.”

Frankie “It’s like a green rainbow: Light green, black green, brown green.”

Steven “They are like kissing trees.”

Frankie reveals to us later “I was lying down and looking up at the trees, that I love”                      And I’m reminded of the poem by W.H. Davis written in 1911 called ‘Leisure’, It starts with:

‘What is this life if full of care we have no time to stand and stare.’tree tops

It’s wonderful to share this time with these children as they open up the endless possibilities around them.


Week 2 Group 5

It’s a very blustery, cold afternoon, nothing like the sweet spring weather of last week, so we wrap up warm ready for our second visit to Thornley woods.


There is much talk about the dens that the children made last week – will they still be standing? Has the wind knocked them down? Or …

Alana “Maybe, blue tits have moved in and laid an egg in it.”

As we walk in- Kelsey gathers moss, “Keep that Imogen, for our den.”

Armfuls of sticks are collected ready for more den building. We pass the place where the large stick den was last week, but it’s not there, just a great pile of sticks strewn across the area. The children think the wind has blown it down. They set about pulling the sticks out.

frankieden group

But what about our dens? We make a quick dash over to our camp. The children are now all eager to see if their dens have survived the storm. And most of them are still standing. The children are visibly pleased.

Joseph “Yeah, mine is still up”

Over at Alana’s  “There’s more acorns than last time, the squirrels have been in!”

And Kelsey and Imogen set about immediately fixing their windblown roof.k & I

We gather in our circle and go over the Woodland rules. We talk about the afternoon ahead.

Imogen  “Don’t put things in your mouth like things that look good to eat, but they’re not, they might be poisonous.” (Berries or mushrooms)

Frankie “Only the ones from the shops.”rules

Alana “If you see a dog you have to stand still.”

Maida “You don’t put any thing in your pocket.” (No living things)

Alana “Because they have to live in their own home, here in the woods”

Joseph “Always see the flag.” – As there are no doors or walls to keep us safe here in the woods.

Frankie “You don’t put sticks in your mouth, You don’t throw them, ‘cos you’ll hit some one, if they are small you carry them like this (upright) and if they are big and long you carry them behind your back.”

Again there is much talk about their dens. Why do animals need shelter?

Alana “Because they need a home”

Kelsey “Stops them getting cold”

Dylan “And wet. You need a roof!”

Alana “Like moss.”

So they all set about attending to their dens. Then, once completed, they can make signs to hang above the dens.

Jordyn’s method is laying sticks against the trunk with a large fir branch placed across the top as a roof, it’s for rabbits and it has a back entrance, and a playroom at the front.jordyn


Maida’s den from last week, which was beautifully constructed, unfortunately has been knocked down. It was built on a path. It has most probably been trampled on. So this time she rebuilds it in the shelter of a tree trunk, with the help of Frankie.

Frankie “We made a bunny hole with loads of sticks and mud.”

Joseph adds a roof to his ‘bunny house’, which rather resembles a temple with its symmetrical design. On either side he has a pile of pine cones “The bunny can’t eat the pine cones but the squirrel can.” And he has stuck little sticks in the ground like a fence leading up to the entrance.

bunnyjoe den


Jessica, who wasn’t here last week, works with Alana, “Ours is for a fox and a rabbit.”alana draw

There is some confusion over whether that’s a good idea, but it’s the act of making that is more interesting than who it is for, as piles of cosy wood shavings are piled in.


Some resin on a tree catches their eyescrstyal

Alana “Its like crystals

Jessica “Sticky crystals.”


Imogen and Kelesy finish off their birdhouse, complete with a feather on top, when placing the sign a Kelsey says to Imogen “Put it inside so the big bad people see it and won’t go in!”

Steven works by himself, adding grass to his so the rain doesn’t get in. He finds lots of bark which he takes back to school, “Because I really like all the patterns in it.”

steven denbark



Dylan and Zac collect armfuls of the pine cones (Norway spruce cones)

Zac “It’s for the rabbits and the squirrels they are friends- it’s their food.

Dylan “They play games like ‘tag’.”

Zac “Squirrels can climb trees”

Dylan “And rabbits dig underground so when the squirrel is ‘on’ the rabbit can dig down and cover up and then he will win!”

A log is placed across the den

Dylan “So that baby wolves that chases them, might trip over it- so they are safe!”


So the children all made dens, that could shelter the creatures, keep them warm and dry and protect them from predators.

Dylan “It was a special den so they didn’t get wet and freezing.”

They worked together and independently.

They solved problems and the shared knowledge and helped each other.

We ended the afternoon by going down to the river where we joyfully played pooh sticks with the fir cones and had a quick plodge in the water.

Where Frankie, very excitedly, informed us

“I found a troll underwater – I felt a soft thing and it felt like a real troll!”

IMG_377water imogen water 

By the river we closed our eyes for a minute and a half and listen to the sounds of the forest and the river.

Jessica “I heard the wind blowing.”

Imogen “And I heard the river swishing around just like night time, like sleeping at bed time.”