Forest School – A Different Type of School

So while I try to do all the formal stuff like Maths and English, Topic and Language, I have to admit that there are some subjects I’m not that able to teach because a) I don’t have the resources, b) I don’t have the space or c) I don’t have the ability.

We love the outdoors and we live in an amazing place to do walks and such, but I don’t like being outside when it’s cold or raining too much, so when my friend suggested forest school I was curious as to what that was.  She told me it’s held at an eco centre and that the building they use if it’s absolutely dreadful weather was made from hay bales and lime by the home ed community.  She also added that most of the time they are outside whatever the weather learning about their surroundings, making dens, cooking on an outside fire and generally doing all I used to when I was 10.

So one day a week, both girls go for the whole day to a safe place with trusted adults where they do all this fun stuff that we are unable/unwilling to do at home.  They both absolutely love it. They get to play with clay and make stuff with willow, (Elsa made a hoopla game). They make swings and play in mud.  They learn about what plants are safe to eat and drink.  They make dampers (I hear a lot about dampers). It all sounds great fun doesn’t it?  Well here’s some pictures to show you that it’s as fun as it sounds. 🙂

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This kind of place makes me wish I was young again. It looks so much fun 🙂

 

 

Letheringsett Watermill

We went to Letheringsett Watermill to have a look at how flour is made.  We saw the different cogs which move the stones and through the glass we could see the watermill moving too.

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There were some scales which are used to weigh the bags of flour.  The lady showed us the flour they were making and the shoot it comes down to go into the bags.  The day we went they were making whole wheat flour which felt courser than white flour as it used all of the grain.

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The stones are used to crush the grains and they have a different gap depending on the different flours they make. They are closer together to make finer flours. The lady then showed us some stones which had been used before.  They were very ground down.

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The flour they make in this mill is sold in the mill shop and also in local shops around the county.

It was a very interesting day.

Homemade Blackberry Jam

We live on a farming estate and therefore there are lots of lovely resources we can look at, find or use.  This time of year is good for wild fruits such as blackberries and elderberries.  We thought we’d make some jam.  I had never made any so it was experience for all of us.

First we picked some blackberries.  Anna proceeded to eat them as she picked but we still managed to collect plenty. We soaked them overnight in water and ice and a bit of salt to kill off any bugs.

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Today we rinsed and put them in the blender and then added jam sugar. Next we put it on the hob to melt the sugar.  When the sugar had melted we added some butter and let that melt.

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When the butter had melted, we brought it to boiling and let it boil for 4 minutes.

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We put it in some jars to cool down.

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Then we had some on tiger loaf for lunch.

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The verdict was, it was easy to make and delicious to eat.

How Hill Adventure Time

I think I say this a lot but the beauty of home education is the freedom it gives us to try different things.  One thing that came up was a day out at How Hill in Norfolk.  What a fun place.

The children were able to try things they would never normally get to do such as thatching.

Thatching

We smashed the reed on the floor to make the bottom angled so it would look nicer and so it would line up with the roof. Then we put it on the roof with some special nail hooks called bottom layer hooks and hammered them down. On the second layer we needed different hooks called top layer hooks. After we had done three layers we had to stand underneath our roof while he threw a tub of cold water to see if it leaked but it DIDN’T luckily.

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Dry and Wet Woods

We went on a nature walk into the dry woods to do some tree spotting and log turning to spot bugs.  Anna found lots of little bugs.  Elsa played a game where her eyes were closed and she was led to a tree to touch it, then led back to the middle, then she had to open her eyes and try and find her tree again.

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We walked through some pretty gardens to the wet wood where the bogs, and the reed beds are.  There and lots of bugs on the river.  This was such a lovely walk.

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They wanted to show us how deep some of the bogs are in the wet wood, so Emma showed us a stick in the ground which was the tallest stick they could find and she pulled it out of the bog and it kept on going up to about 2m high.

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We all then went into a bird hide to spot birds on the broad. Anna didn’t see any, but Elsa saw a moorhen.  So not too many birds about that day.

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Pond Dipping

Finally we did some pond dipping and Elsa found a massive snail and some water boatman along with lots of other bugs and larvae.

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We had a GREAT day!

Bees & Honey

Whenever I have uncooperative children, my go to thing to do is a nature walk.  This weeks nature walk was about honey bees while they were busy collecting nectar.  It was a gorgeous day so I ran this topic by the girls.  Elsa didn’t really want to come but reluctantly agreed, and while Anna skipped off down the road spotting flowers, butterflies and bees Elsa dragged her heels a bit.  We talked about whether she knew the differences between a bumble bee and a honey bee, she did and I could see her becoming more interested in what we were discussing.  It didn’t take her long to spot a honey bee and we were able to look closely at what she was doing.

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They really are fascinating, they flit from one flower to another so quickly (so getting a photograph was near on impossible).  As we continued we saw lots of them all busily doing their job.  When we got home we watched a video about how honey is collected by the beekeeper, then the girls wrote in their nature books.

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We made honey cookies (recipe 40 here), which tasted lovely, but we did have to add twice as much flour as we wouldn’t have been able to roll out the dough otherwise).  The girls loved doing this 🙂

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The next day I asked Elsa if she’d like to do a comic strip about how the honey bee makes honey.  She said yes she’d love to as she’d really enjoyed this mini topic.  So she searched for information on the honey bee and then got to it.  The final result is really great.

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Thank goodness she enjoyed it 🙂

Learning about Famous Artists – Claude Monet

Lesson two of the famous artists curriculum.  I love the fact we can just pick these up as we feel like it.

We went for a nature walk (included as a different post) and as we got to the lake at the end of the lane, what should we see but lily pads all over it.  After a quick discussion with the lady at the house she said we were allowed to sit on her boardwalk.  We went back the next day with pens, pencils and crayons and drew them.

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When we got back we had a look in our art book and the next artist was Claude Monet.  I couldn’t believe it.  Anyway we decided to try and recreate his lily pad watercolour paintings which he did in his back garden at Giverny.

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We also had a chat about Monet, where he lived and what the term impressionism meant.  Elsa had to also do a little written biography on him where she found out that the impressionism term came from one of his paintings, Impression Sunrise.

Elsa and Anna both enjoyed doing watercolours (neither of them used enough water though 🙂 ) and the results were really nice.

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Our Nature walk 1

Another thing we are doing is learning about nature.  We are lucky to live on a beautiful farming estate so we have lovely walks available to us when we want to go on one.  Normally though, someone always gets stung while we are closely looking at something.

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This walk consisted of looking at the different types of grasses that are out this time of year.  Sadly, it has been very cold and we think that the normal spring grasses are going to be a few weeks late this year.

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On our walk, we came to the end of our lane and found a lovely lake which was covered in lily pads. We have done a Monet inspired painting from this.

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On the way home we came across this skeleton which we think was missing a few limbs and possibly the top of it’s jaw, so Elsa thought it was a possibly a fox or deer and Anna thought it was a kangaroo or a bear, which Elsa thought was funny but I thought made sense really, as it was missing two legs.  After a bit of research at home we found out that it is a muntjac deer.

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We had collected lots of moss and stones and pine cones this time so we made a little fairy garden which looked really cute.  The girls picked lots of flowers from our garden to pretty it up a lot.

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We had a lovely day.

Burgh Castle Field Trip

Our recent topic is Romans and we have done a variety of subjects on it including Boudicca, mosaics, Hadrian’s Wall and Gods.

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To find out about Roman buildings we went to Burgh Castle. Mummy made a field trip sheet to fill in, but Anna didn’t do it so Nanny did it for her.

The sheet asked us to see what it was made of and I thought it was made of stone, clay, brick and flint.

I took some pictures of the layers in the wall.

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Next we had to look for the bastions. A bastion is there to help defend the castle. We saw 6 bastions but there would have been more.

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These are my pictures of the different bastions we could see.

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These are holes in the walls where the bricks have fallen out and they are not supposed to be there. You could see a bastion through one of the holes. Can you see which one?

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I think this hole might be something to hold a roof up with a wood pillar. There were 7 and they were square so looked like they should be there.

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These walls have either fallen down or are wonky.

Collapsed wall view of the wall

We learnt a lot and had fun exploring!

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Photo Scavenger Hunt #1

This time of year it’s hard to get the girls to go outside as the weather is cold and unpredictable, with it raining one minute, sleeting the next and sunny the next.

I thought we’d go on a scavenger hunt around where we live which is a beautiful spot in the English countryside.  But instead of coming home with stones, feathers and leaves, they would take photos.

So I created a photo scavenger hunt sheet and each armed with a camera off we went.

This was fun as it got the girls looking at their surrounding as we wondered home from our local village.

Elsa Anna
Something red Something red
A flower A flower
Something interesting Something interesting
Something yellow Something yellow
A road A road
A wheel A wheel
Some berries Some berries
A vehicle A vehicle
Something you can eat Something you can eat
A selfie A selfie
A stone or rock A stone or rock
The sky The sky
Something of your choice Something of your choice
A green leaf A green leaf
A metal sign A metal sign

Alphabet Photograph Challenge – Part 1

Elsa has a camera, which she takes with her everywhere.  Sometimes she remembers to take photographs and other times she doesn’t.

To encourage her to look at her surroundings and to remind her to take pictures, I set her a challenge.

By the end of our home school year could we each have a set of alphabet photographs taken of items we see while we are out.  They can be of anything but it has to look like a letter of the alphabet.

This little challenge seems to be working as these are what she has found so far.

E  H H I I

L L O OR

V V W  X

Y  Z Z

I think she’s doing ok :).