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Thursday, 21 May 2015

Fagley Primary visit Countryside Learning Live.

Anesu and Jack trying their hand at pole lathe turning
Year 5 Making Kites
Yesterday, 170 pupils from classes 1 to 6 visited the Countryside Learning Live event in the beautiful grounds of Ledston Estate, South Milford. The country fair exclusively for children is being held in Yorkshire for the 10th time, with over 4000 children expected to attend over the two days.

Munib and Abbas Studying a Honeycomb
Fagley students had the opportunity to learn about products and produce from the countryside and understand how they form part of the daily lives of city, town and country people alike. They were enthralled by the fantastic displays in the main arena from birds of prey to dog and duck shows. They also took part in a host of hands on activities including felting, corn dolly making and willow weaving.
The beautiful setting
There children also gained an insight into rural careers from keeping bees to becoming a jockey or vet. Year 6 really enjoyed finding out all about how bees make honey, taking part in the honey taste and trying out the protective clothing worn by bee keepers.

The dancing sheep show was a particular highlight with many of the children including Aroona and Callum from Year 4 saying it was one of their most memorable moments.
Aneesa's Grass Head Troll

Muskaan's Willow Ring

Sanaa Modelling a Beekeeping Suit

Year 2 Dissecting Owl Pellets

Looking for Bones in Owl Pellets

Year 2 Learning How to Felt

Year 6 Tasting Honey

Year 6 Modelling Beekeeping Suits

Monday, 11 May 2015

Tadpole Rescue

May 11th (1) from Fagley Primary Forest School on Vimeo.

Over the past few weeks, the children have been watching the development of tadpoles in a small pond we pass on our way to the woods. They first noticed the frogspawn at the beginning of April  and have subsequently seen the tadpoles emerge and wriggle around the pond.
This week we have had some heavy rainfall causing the pond to overflow and some of the unlucky tadpoles to be washed down the lane into puddles.

The children decided to launch a rescue mission and using any discarded cups, packets and cartons they could find, set about scooping up the tadpoles and returning them to the pond.

Some of the children were also keen to take some of the hapless tadpoles back to school. We decided that we would have to do some research about how to care for tadpoles if we were going to take some with us.

This is what we have been able to find out:

The water:

Tadpoles, like fish, breathe through gills and therefore need clean water. Tap water contains chlorine which can be harmful to tadpoles and fish so is best no used unless the water has been left in sunlight for a day to allow the chlorine to evaporate. Rainwater or bottled water is a better option. Our tadpoles had been rescued from a murky puddle, so once safely back at school, we transferred them to a container of rainwater (collected in one of our waterbutts). The water will need to be changed regularly to keep it clean.

The tadpoles' container needs to be in a shady place and contain some rocks to provide them with cover.


In their natural habitat, tadpoles eat algae. Manhoor found out from her research that tadpoles raised in a tank can be fed on boiled minced lettuce or spinach.

The children are very excited about being able to watch them grow and develop over the coming weeks.

Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Ha Mock Mummy

The last few weeks have provided the typical 'four seasons in one day' spring weather we Forest School types have come to know and love. Amidst the hail, wind, smog and arctic blasts, we have had some rather pleasant spells of sunshine. The warmer weather has allowed us to partake in some less adrenaline fueled activities (My knees have appreciated the break from capture the flag!).

The children have taken great pleasure in lazing in the hammocks and gazing up at the birds busily preparing their nests in the trees above. The children who have been in a hammock before demonstrated to those new to the experience how to safely get in and out of it. Ibrahim was keen for me to capture a photograph a rather convincing impression of an Egyptian mummy. (They have been learning all about the legend of Tutankhamun in class)

Before putting up the hammocks, the children agreed guidelines on how to use them safely and helped to choose suitable trees to which to attach the hammocks to. They looked for strong, healthy trees with no brambles or rocks beneath them. It was agreed that the hammocks could be rocked gently but not swung hard as this could damage the trees or cause the ropes to snap.

Despite your best efforts, odd tree can take you by surprise! 
Hazel group chose two suitably thick trees free from disease and brambles. They secured the ropes to the trees and tested the hammock by kneeling and leaning on it. All was well until two children attempted to climb in the hammock together. One of the trees began to lean inwards and on closer inspection, the children noticed that the footplate had begun to lift. Our woodland has a closed canopy due to lack of woodland management over the years. This has resulted in the trees becoming overcrowded, preventing some of the younger trees from establishing a strong root system. After assessing the condition of the tree, we decided that it was safer to bring the tree down than leave it in an unstable condition. The space left by the removal of the tree will benefit the flora on the woodland floor and allow the remaining trees to spread and grow stronger. The wood from the tree as it decays will provide a valuable habitat for the woodland fauna.

Saturday, 21 March 2015

Forest CSI Chic!

After the eerie chill of this morning's solar eclipse, the afternoon gifted us with the gentle sunshine befitting the spring equinox. 

Beech group chose to head toward the beck. Having been before, Sahdiya and Hasibah led the group. Lining the bank of of the beck, we were greeted by a swathe of tender green ransom leaves. Ransoms, or wild garlic, are a member of the alium family and can be easily identified by their pungent aroma. Unlike culitivated garlic, the bulb of wild garlic is very small, therefore it is best left in the ground and the leaves harvested. The leaves can be eaten raw and make a great addition to salads, but they can also be added to pasta dishes and pesto.

The children splashed their way through the water following the winding path of the beck bordered by hazel trees to both sides. It was at this point we realised that we had left the spare socks back at school! Not to worry. Hasibah remembered a little trick we had used in the winter when some over exuberant muddy puddle splashing led to some decidely soggy socks. In our safety sack, we always carry a good supply of waste bags. In the past when socks have got soggy and feet cold, the children have taken off their socks, slipped on a couple of bags, then put the socks over the top to stop the bags slipping off, then popped their wellies back on.

The girls had a different take on this method today. As we were basing ourselves  by the beck today and the sun was shining, they chose to hang their socks and boots on a tree to dry and fashion themselves some fetching booties from the bags and string. As they explored the beckside, there was definitely an air of crime scene investigator around their makeshift foot attire!

Meanwhile, Dayan, Fola and Ibrahim decided to make use of the the extensive stems of hazel growing near the water to build on the bow making skills they had learned last week. They were able to choose suitably thick, flexible and straight stems to coppice using the loppers. After a quick refresher, they could make a clove hitch to attach their string to the bow and working with a partner, they secured the other end of the string to create just the right amount of tension.
Fola was very pleased that with a bit of practice and guidance, he was able to perfect his arrow firing technique.

The children are keen to visit the beck again soon, but next time we will remember to bring the spare socks!

Monday, 16 March 2015

Mountain Rescue

Mountain Rescue Control Centre
Stranded Mountaineers Awaiting Rescue
Whilst dressing for Forest School today, Aisha spotted a box in the kit room marked musical instruments. She suggested that we could take some to the woods with us. The rest of the group agreed that it would be fun to create music in the woods. Before long each child was holding a shaker and we set off to the woods like a line of noisy rattlesnakes. The group decided to head towards the top end of the wood towards a 'mountain' they were keen to conquer. They worked together to ensure that they all made it to the summit safely. Still clutching their shakers a mountain rescue role play game began to evolve. The children divided themselves into two groups, casualties at the bottom of the slope and mountain rescuers at the top. The casualties shook their shakers and signaled for help whilst the rescuers held their brightly coloured shakers aloft and shook back to indicate that help was on its way. Holding branches outstretched, the rescuers worked together to pull the stranded mountaineers to safety. The group were so involved in their scenario that they were surprised to learn that it was already snack time and almost time for us to return to school.