Thursday, 25 June 2015

St. Mark's School's Year 4's Woodland Adventure.

In May of this year, Year 4s from St Mark’s were taken to Low Park woods for an overnight sleep out. The trip was designed to offer the children a challenging experience in a brand new learning environment and to help them understand more about Stone Age life. Interestingly, the trip also allowed the children lots of opportunity to experience the Christian Values that the school is trying to embed.
Our journey began with a walk to the woods through farmland and along the river. Thankfully, the sun was shining and all the children were in good spirits. On arrival at camp, the children were introduced to Ro and Debs from Wood Matters, a local organisation offering Bush craft experiences for school groups, youth groups and families. Having explored the woods and settled into their new environment, the children set about working together to make fire. Each group was given a flint and steel and cotton wool tinder and instructed on how to use them safely. The task required real endurance and some children began to get disheartened very quickly when their cotton wool did not instantly ignite! However, they persevered and each group was able to contribute a flame to the camp fire which burned for the entirety of their stay in the woods.
The children again had to work together to build shelters to sleep in.  After only minimal instruction, it was a tricky undertaking but the children got stuck in. They quickly became frustrated as they each had their own ideas and were keen to put them into practice. Initially, strong characters led the way but after a few bumped heads and a bit of falling out the children began to realise the importance of communication. They stopped and formulated a plan, listening to each other’s ideas and reaching a compromise. In the end, both the boys and the girls built successful shelters and kept their fingers crossed that it wouldn’t rain during the night!
The children had done research into camp fire cooking and had decided on their own menu, with groups of children having responsibility for particular meals. The children prepared and cooked all the food, serving the other members of their class and taking charge of all the cleaning up afterwards. The sausages were a triumph and the pancakes were a challenge but the children particularly enjoyed toasting marshmallows to make smores.
During our two days in the woods, the children undertook a whole range of activities including carving with wood, using natural dyes to make art and learning about the woodland as a habitat. It was a very special and valuable experience for all the children and as well as the practical skills they developed, they also learnt a lot about themselves and each other.
Hazel Sutton 
Year 4 Teacher