It grew much colder in the afternoon as the sun disappeared behind the clouds, so we headed straight down to the spruce tree woodland to gather plenty roaring-flame firewood and got the fire reaching it's flames high into the skies right away. After a fantastic few singalong songs from Jack, some of the group got to work making a small pouch to store birch bark and various other forms of tinder inside, some continued with decorating the larger pouches with acorn ink. This group have become very confident in gathering, preparing and lighting their own fires completely independently and did so today with great efficiency.
Also, during a rich period of free-play, part of the group made a series of clearings in the autumn leaves, each of which acted as a different room with its own purpose; making an excellent area for interesting debates and social interactions to take place over all manner of agreements and minor adjustments. A truly valuable time in development and such rich, pure social, moral and emotional skills developed there.
We split into groups and fox walked down through the woods separately in silence, aware of all our senses and trying our utmost to not be heard by any of the other groups. Still in silence we filtered out into our individual sit spots for a long and connecting time with nature.
After a story, we continued with our fire focus on this afternoon group, some children carried on with decorating the tinder bags or sewing pouches for initial thistle fluff or fine tinder. We also stripped down some buddleia and heated it over the fire so it could be shaped to be as straight as possible in order to use as a hand drill for fire lighting.
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 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.
Starting with another top quality game of Eagle Eye with some very….adventurous hiding spots, including literally in the Eagle’s nest - pretending to be a bag and actually didn’t even get spotted!!
Across the bog and down to a fallen Beech tree for some mushroom identification and a snack. Then, a high quality and intense game of Storm the Castle using the stream as the border and the steep sided banks as territory, very tiring territory!
Whilst packing up there was much excitement around the discovery of a lizard!
It felt great to see all the children after the summer and to be back among the earthy smells and fresh carpet of golden leaves.
Highlights from our morning group included:
Sharing stories from our summers, creating a slug hotel, weaving rush, whittling, watching life at the pond, lighting their own fires and setting quests for Daniel on his upcoming adventure to America! It was great how many things the children asked Daniel to find out about on his travels, about the juncos, coyotes, arachnids, what edible plants there are over there and so much more.
In the afternoon after an epic game of storm the castle in the sunny field, we went into the woods and practiced our core routine of owl eyes and fox walking. We moved silently through the woods in this way down to a string line that had been set up among the trees and let the string lead us blindfolded. After this we had a very peaceful sit spot noticing the patterns in the bird songs and alarms, the falling leaves and autumnal colours. We shared stories whilst eating our snacks and similarly, the children were invited to suggest quests for Daniel's adventures, including finding out about buffalo and other bovines, wolves, sea life and many more.
Then we had a great scavenger hunt and incorporated our findings into a beautiful autumn mandala.
Victoria Mew, Founder of Cultivating Curiosity