Straight into a very energetic game to get us all warmed up and an introduction to Jack: - down from London with his guitar to get singing some lovely songs we know and create some of our very own pieces! As well as, of course, get involved with all the crafts we had planned. Which today was some delicious popcorn and songs to singalong around the fire whilst others worked on finishing felting some lovely shapes and characters, climbing trees, forming den’s, starting fires and crafting tiny little shelters for characters. All with the sweet sound of guitar and voices charming the background.
Welcomed into the morning with a warm mauve sunrise over the trees just about hanging onto those last leaves. We learnt about moles and their fantastic senses which led to us embodying ourselves as moles and jumping around over mole hills to escape an oncoming predators!
The story of the Pedlar of Swaffham shared with us a moral of following dreams and led to some great discussion about our wildest nighttime dreams, of which there were many! Then on with a day of using mole mud to mould tree spirit faces, carving bows, shaping wood and splitting for tongs. Finishing off any felting from last week and creating our own quills to draw our imagination onto some cotton.
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 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!
Our Tuesday began with collecting, shelling and crushing….ACORNS!! Blanching them in hot water to make them easier to peel, and taking turns to crush with a gigantic pestle and mortar. But what can you possibly make with crushed acorns…?
Still blessed with clear weather we headed over to the Ashdown Forest and a morning packed with nature rich activities! Starting off with a full on game of Bear’s Lunchbox which turned out to be so exhausting it led us to a incredibly comfy lay down in the heather (with an almost magically coloured spider) and a beautiful story packed with facts of the Oak tree from Vicky.
A walk down right through the heart of the woods and to the stream, where the crushed acorns are currently being washed out to release all the Tannin, so that next week we can make our very own….ACORN CHOCOLATE BROWNIES!! We went our separate ways to either help in dam unblocking, mushroom hunting or making a magical forest mixture in the cauldrons we dug out in an old, old oak tree stump; where we found a hornet, which we carefully rehoused.
Yet another beautiful morning of blue skies and beaming sunshine we went straight into a quick predator game when we spotted a bush that Daniel and children had always thought to be a Rhododendron (top), was in fact a Laurel (bottom). A very close look-a-like, but we established different characteristics of the plant structure and leaves.
Across over to the Ashdown Forest for a very energetic game of Eagle Eye - hiding from the Eagle in their nest, but the hiders must still be able to see part of the Eagle through a sneaky little hole in the ferns or trees. Then it was down through the big old bog and down into the woods to sit by the waterfall for snack and a story.
After snack, some children wrote letters filled with sketches, questions and ideas for Daniel to share and give to the children over in America where he is going to teach, learn and explore until Christmas. Other children worked together on unblocking dams, getting the stream flowing and making bridges to stop leaves blocking the stream. Others made dens together, mossy hotels and homes and some went off with Vicky to identify some of the many many lovely mushrooms in the woods this time of year!
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