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