Before entering the woods we shared what we felt our inner weather of the morning was, and awakened our senses to the farm environment around us, meanwhile, Anna went ahead and sat to the side of the path, blindfolded and armed with several clay balls…. The challenge was to fox walk past so silently we could not be heard, or else the clay balls would be flying our way!
It was a magically peaceful and balanced day. Some children continued to build shelters, sculpting clay chimneys, axing down or cutting and transporting fallen spruce trees. Others drew tracks with acorn ink, waxed leaves and used them to mark the compass directions around the camp, which led to fantastic excitement around map making and hunting for the treasure of the Golden Acorn!
Straight into a sneaky, stealthy and lightning quick game of ‘otter steals fish’ from the guarding heron, and those herons certainly didn’t want their fish being stolen!
After our circle of gratitude we headed to the woods and working all together got a fire started in 6 minutes by percussion of flint and steel using Ganoderma fungus as tinder, in 6 minutes!
Then a morning of crafting, baking and felting: carding dyed wool, layering it over hands, fingers or stones and massaging into the wool with warm water and soap then after a fair bit of more vigorous massaging...felt! In all shapes and sizes, from a mitten, to an afro lady, to a fox. Meanwhile other children were working and making acorn bread from acorns we’d collected and prepared; as well as crafting with clay, whittling, shaping bows or sharing creative ideas, imagination and building dens.
The image of learning, development and creative curiosity experienced by Ross. d:-)
We warmed up with an exhausting game of ‘Robins and Ice Sprites’, we are still developing the game together and fine tuning the ratios and rules, which led to some fantastic rich discussions.
We heard about how Daniel is getting on exploring the forests of Seattle and finding us some new games, skills and material. We heard that after a long day of trekking and searching he came across a gang of Elk’s with mighty great antlers - we very much look forward to more stories soon Daniel!
A silent and respectful exploration around a gigantic fallen Beech tree and some delicate, creative leaf printing or drawing with our acorn ink around the fire.
We started with an energetic game of wolf tag in the woods, then, the challenge to build a head shelter (covering head and shoulders) in 10 minutes that was capable of keeping one lucky teenager dry for the equivalent of a heavy rain shower. Challenge was passed….mostly!
The fire was soon roaring and we learnt a little about the sweet chestnut and a short story of the Tree of 100 horse in Scilly, 58m in circumference!!
Then onto a long desired project…..A TREEHOUSE!! We set to choosing a tree and sawing some fallen sweet chestnut to length and planning out or foundations, while others enjoyed free play then painted and carved some beautiful crafts.
We had a new game of robins and ice sprites up in the woods before heading down to camp and getting one of the quickest, brightly burning fires going in under 6 minutes. After a snack and a story we had some self directed time out of which emerged some new shelter frames and some whittling.
Then we brought our focus to fire. Different tinders and a variety of ways to ignite fire. The intention is to develop this as a project through the rest of this term.
We had various missions and crafts on the go this morning... from processing more acorns from which to make bread next week, to making acorn ink over the fire and creating a host of clay creatures!
We enjoyed our usual morning routine of warm up games, gathering and sharing what we are thankful for and then heading down to our holly camp to create a fire, snack and story. After the story, about half the group headed off for a wandering day on the other side of the forest. This was full of games, such fun playing wolves and deer in the bracken and heather. We found a real sun spot for lunch and some of us even ventured down to the stream...
The other half had time to explore, build and create at our camp. Those who chose to also had the option to engage with processing a rabbit that had been offered to the group to learn from. The respect and gratitude they showed was truly beautiful.
Such a spacious, rich, joyful day full of learning, experimenting and feasting. Vicky and Ed's group processed the acorns they had leeched since last month into a scrumptious acorn chocolate brownie cake.
Feathers and Jill offered a session to all the children who wanted to on honouring life and death through the gift of a few rabbits. It was beautiful how respectfully they all engaged in this and how much gratitude was expressed for life and for all our relations that support our lives.
It was a day of heightened sensory awareness in the Ashdown Forest and were greeted with a very curious abnormal yellow sky, allegedly from hurricane Ophelia sucking up sandy winds from the Saharan Desert. After some extreme hide and seek spots we paired up, blindfolded our partner, were led to a tree and led under all manner of dizzy -making and disorientating tactics and led far away. Then entirely reliant on our other senses and experience....everyone found their way back, eventually! It proved to be a relatively quiet and certainly mindful activity.
As the eerie pastel sky clouded over we drew our focus toward hearing; hidden deep in the trees and bushes by the stream I sat banging a drum. Reliant on touch, sound and instinct everyone was blindfolded and let loose. The lack of sight instigated a lot more conversation and sharing of discoveries in the landscape like streams or gentle river banks! Upon reflection of that afternoon, we had developed a stronger sense of perspective for the other senses that are awakened after just an afternoon in nature.
Victoria Mew, Founder of Cultivating Curiosity