Sessions at Rock Edge starting next week

We start our pre-school group at Rock Edge next Thursday – hooray! We headed to Rock Edge today to check over the site (which is looking great in all its spring foliage!), and to have a go at our activity for next week – hapa zome – the Japanese art of imprinting leaf dye onto fabric. It sounds impressive but basically involves bashing things with mallets…

I have been spending a bit more time in front of a computer and a bit less time in the woods than I’d like but I’m just trying to get all the behind the scenes admin sorted out.

To that end, there are a couple of forms that participants will need to fill in on their first session. I will bring forms to the session, but anyone who can download them from the links here, fill them out and bring them along or even email them to in advance will save a few minutes of form-filling in the woods!

  1. Adult Medical Form. This is for any adult attending – you are just as (un)likely to have some sort of accident as your child/ren! So please fill this form out for yourself so that we are able to make the correct first aid decisions, should such a scenario arise.
  2. Child Medical Form. Please fill one in for each child attending.
  3. Policy and Media Consent Form. Please read through our Code of Conduct and Clothing and Personal Equipment policies and also let us know whether you are happy to be photographed. If you are not, we will of course ensure that this doesn’t happen.

See you next Thursday – Rock Edge, OX3 8NE – at 10am.

Freezing weather

Yesterday was a chilly morning for our year ones at Forest School; it was -4 C at 9.30 when they arrived and still only -1 C when they left at 11.30, despite the sun shining all morning. The children were sensible and wore plenty of layers as well as hats and gloves and we were careful not to let them sit still for too long, making sure that they were busy with gross motor activities for most of the session to keep them warm. These children have been coming to forest school for five weeks now and their resilience has really improved over this short time – we barely had a single complaint about the cold (except from the grown ups!) and the children enjoyed themselves as much as ever, and loved exploring their site in this beautiful frosty weather. 

Regular outings to forest school, especially in all weathers, is proven to increase children’s resilience and this class is no exception. 

Using a fire steel 

Yesterday our Year 1s (only 5 and 6 years old) showed incredible levels of concentration, perseverance and resilience in using a fire steel to light a ball of cotton wool. It’s a tricky task, even for adults, as it takes a knack and a certain amount of strength, but these children stuck with the task without giving up, listened to direction if they wanted it, and every child who gave it a go managed to set their cotton wool alight eventually. The look of pleasure, satisfaction and self-esteem on their faces was fantastic to see.


It was chilly this morning at our Forest School session at Tetsworth Outdoor Learning Centre (TOLC). There was a frost overnight and a lot of the puddles had iced over. The beautiful autumn leaves floating in the puddles became trapped in the ice, creating decorated slabs of frozen water. 

The children loved playing with the ice. They explored the feeling of the ice under their hands and exclaimed at how cold it was. They put some next to the fire and were able to explore the process of melting. They felt how slippery it was and then stepped on it to crack it into pieces. A fantastic way to begin to explore the science of ice and water and to become aware of our changing seasons.

Sadza and bug hunting

The lovely Heidi, a faithful TOLC devotee originally from Zimbabwe, made us traditional cornmeal sadza today over the fire at Tetsworth, a staple food in her native country – in this picture the maize is being ground into flour in the traditional way:

She made a delicious peanut relish and tomato relish to have with it. Much enjoyed by all, a great conversation starter for the adults and a lovely way to bring us all together for the eating. Thank you Heidi!

We also used our new bug boxes and identification sheets and found some great mini beasts including a centipede and a parasitic wasp.



Last session for this year 1 class for a term, so for our final session we had an experimental cookout. The children brought all sorts of food which can be cooked on, in or over a fire. We had marshmallows, peppers, mushrooms, courgette, sweet potato in foil for the embers, apple in foil to bake in the embers, and the highlight was an apple stuffed with cinnamon deliciousness. We also had popcorn and stick bread – stuffed with a chocolate finger. Yum.

Fire at Forest School

We have a fire most weeks at our sessions, but it isn’t at all necessary for a good Forest School session. We always make stick bread over the fire which the children enjoy, and which is great for learning patience, concentration and perseverance.  It also gives the children the opportunity to become familiar with open fires (for many children, the closest they’ve ever got to open fire is a barbecue) and to learn to manage fire’s inherent risks and how to behave safely around fire. It also provides a nice spot for children to sit and be thoughtful.

Elder beads 

We made elder beads this morning by cutting a length of elder into short sections. Older children could use the loppers themselves under supervision. Then they used a stick to push out the pith in the middle. 

They could then thread some string through the beads and create a necklace. 


Willow weaving, shelter building and art 

Last week I harvested some willow and the children made crowns, dream catchers (excellent fine motor skill practice) and headdresses. I provided the willow and wool; they chose how to use it.

The year 1’s learnt a couple of simple knots and put up shelters with tarps and rope. Great team work, communication and problem solving.


Others chose to make some creative art installations. A lovely week.

And of course, we made our own snack – stick bread!


This morning we made fire. The children collected string-diameter sticks for kindling and I showed them how I use the fire steel to light the main fire (which we use for our stick bread).  Then the children had a turn with some cotton wool and a fire steel. The level of persistence and concentration in this group of 5-6 year olds was fantastic – using a fire steel successfully is tricky for young children as it takes strength and a knack!