Woodland Play

5th November: after a break for half-term our Woodland Play after school club and the earlier group, Down to Earth returned to the serious business of playing outdoors last Wednesday. We made good use of the leaves in the early afternoon, and found some excellent hiding places after school. As we said a cheery goodbye to each other, the (almost) full moon was rising  above the tree tops in a darkening sky! Oh happy day!

Raking the leaf pile

Raking the leaf pile

Everybody in!

Everybody in!

Testing it our for comfort

Testing it out for comfort

22nd October: We’re pausing for the half-term holiday now. Back on 5th November, and meeting at the play area from 3:30 every Wednesday.

Riding on the Sideways Tree

Riding on the Sideways Tree

High Flyers

High Flyers

Reaching the top

Reaching the top

The After School Club has  been running for a few weeks since the start of the Autumn term 2014, and has aquired some regular visiting families! Others are still welcome to come and join in as and when they are able. We meet on Wednesdays from 3:30 till 4:45, and explore the park with a theme in mind, though we always find time for a game or two as well. Currently we are finding our favourite trees and locating them on a Map of Children’s Trails. This creates an opportunity for children to have a voice about their park and we hope the map will be published and made available to the community in the coming year.

We are unable to do something for Hallowe’en this year, but are happy to signpost families to suitable events going on in our network. On Monday 27th October there’s an event in Moseley Park [ MoseleyHalloween poster],  and on Friday 31st October an event at Martineau Gardens.

Our new Woodland Play Club will continue on Wednesday 5th November through till Christmas. There is a charge of £1 for each child accompanied by their parent or carer. Up to three children may come along with one adult, so friends and siblings can come too! Please contact me (Liz) on hoccic@gmail.com or 01216282680 for further inquiries.

 

Summer-time  Woodland Play 2014 started off with a Fathers Day session – except it was on Saturday, and we managed to confuse some people – sorry about that! A pretty fancy den got built near base-camp, with everyone chipping in. The Big People got really stuck in … while others chilled out!

All hands on deck

All hands on deck

 

 

A small person enjoying our really low slung hammock!

A small person enjoying our really low slung hammock

 

The very seasonal summer thunder storms put pay to our plans for a session on 19th July. Please come along to our Orchard Picnic instead. Fingers crossed for fair weather.

Nope! The weather stopped play on that occasion too! But I did manage to decorate my sunhat between storms.

Liz's sunhat

Liz’s sunhat

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Things went a bit better on National Playday though (August 6th) when a bunch of families explored Fairy Ecology.

A fairy home gets a makeover

A fairy home gets a makeover

Busy construction work in Beech Wood

Busy construction work in Beech Wood

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On 13rd August, hunters and trackers set forth to discover lesser-explored areas of the park. We found North and did a bit of orienteering. With the help of a map, we hunted for clues among the trees. Hide-and-seek among the hazel stands was a challenge, helped by little bits of wool that left a trail.

A tracker with a vantage point

A tracker with a vantage point

Making to tracking stick helps get the measure of the land

Making to tracking stick helps get the measure of the land

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Two more sessions followed (we had to cancel a  third one) with Bushcraft (23rd), and Flying Things (27th). Thirteen children attended on the 27th and we spread out over Moon Meadow by the car park with sticks, twine and pieces of cut up carrier bags for sails.

Multi-tasking: standing on nature's wobble board while testing the bow.

Multi-tasking: standing on nature’s wobble board while testing the bow.

Children get lost? Ruth was totally engrossed in her work while her daughter made a bow and arrow.

Children get lost? Ruth was totally engrossed in her work while her daughter made a bow and arrow.

 

 

 

Are my new boots waterproof? Oops - no they're not!

Are my new boots waterproof? Oops – no they’re not!

Bon voyage, "Natural Beauty"!

Bon voyage, “Natural Beauty”!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We are grateful to the Big Lottery fund, Awards for All, for funding our Forest Education project over the past fifteen months; and to Kings Heath Business Association who once again have supported our children’s activities.

Woodland Play will continue with an After School family club in the early Autumn. Final details will be published soon via our mailing list. Please ask your child’s teacher to contact me (Liz) so I can send them information.

Seasonal sessions and events will pop up in Autumn and winter, starting with Highbury Harvest on 11th October 12 – 5pm. Contact me (Liz) on hoccic@gmail.com for news and updates, or if you would like to be on our mailing list.

 

Woodland Play (Spring Series 2014) It was only last week that we completed the Winter series of outdoor fun and learning for families at Highbury, and already I am looking forward to the Spring series. You could help us promote it in schools and local community groups with this poster, Woodland Play (Spring Series) Thanks!

As the weather is warming up and the days are getting longer, we have a bumper number of sessions planned for this season! Please look at the  Calendar 2014 (Spring) for forthcoming dates and information.

We start off with another Night Walk on 15th March, followed by Foraging one week later on 22nd March. Then we have a set of four Skillbuilder sessions, for you and your family to try out bushcraft. The cost is £3 per adult to accompany up to three children. We have two FREE sessions during this series. You will need to book, as places are limited. Contact Liz on hoccic@gmail.com or 0121 628 2680.

We introduced a mid-week session during the school half-term holiday in February, and another Wednesday session comes up in the Easter break and also in the May half-term week. I hope this makes it easier for you to fit Woodland Play into your family’s schedule, or to come out with us more often!

The current Awards for All funding runs until the end of May, but we hope that liaising with Active Parks will allow us to continue right through the summer and beyond.

 

Our Winter series of Woodland Play for families with children aged 5-11 came to an end in February (to be followed by our Spring series almost immediately!)

We started off way back in November creating homes for favourite small world characters, making clay faces on trees and planting the first of our tree seedlings in pots. WoodlandPlay Winter 001Shelters for favourite play figures

A scary tree spirit?

A scary tree spirit?

After a break for Christmas, we were back with the first Night Walk which was very popular. The clouds foreclosed on our plans to explore the night sky, but we had good fun on the ground exercising our senses to identify woodland material and find or way around.

In the half-term holiday, we had THREE dates to offer you, and every one of them was bathed in sunshine for at least part of the time! Park Ranger, Alf  lead a Wednesday session to create a tree nursery, using some of our tiny tree seedlings from the Woodland Trust.

Alf sizes up a tree

Alf sizes up a tree

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Park Ranger, Jan lead  a fun fundraiser for hedgehogs, which have become an endangered species. We followed a woodland trail and  learned about these significant and endearing little animals. We made clay hedgehogs and ate hedgehog cake – no prickles, just yummy chocolate buttons!

Hedgehogs Ahoy!

Hedgehogs Ahoy!

Julie, from Triskelion lead our session on birds and nests, which included making one yourself. Rhiannnon said it was a hoot!

From March to May 2014 we will offer lots more Woodland Play to families. Look out for the skill-builder sessions aimed particularly at 8-11s. Most sessions will run on Saturday afternoons, but we are concentrating some of the dates in the Easter and half-term holidays, so you can come out and have fun right here in Birmingham.

If you would like to get early notification of each event, please ask to be on our Woodland Play mailing list by contacting Liz on hoccic@gmail.com.

 

 

Woodland Play (Autumn Series 2013) Our Forest Education project ran through the autumn as a series of Woodland Play sessions on Saturday afternoons in September and October.  These have been aimed at 5-11 year olds and their families. The most recent was a special Halloween event on Thursday 31st October.

Here’s a flavour of the activities that went on over the autumn: a squirrel game involving collecting and burying conkers, and searching for them again;  squirrel art made from found materials; a mini-beast hunt; orienteering and reading a map of the park; tree identification and a search for colours. Two free events included Honey Fun Day where people found out about bees and honey, and Halloween where families carved their own pumpkins, made spiders and a web, and chopped wood for a campfire. The tasty recipe for gingerbread is under our recipe section.

Reading the clues after orienteering, 26th OctoberGraduates of Hogwarts, Birmingham?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We are firm believers that every season has something special to offer for fun and learning in nature. So after a short break, Woodland Play will continue with a Winter series, starting on Saturday 23rd November. It happens to be the end of Family Week, so we hope families will come out to be together! We do admit, the days are getting colder and darker so the sessions will be shorter (2-hrs long) and more spread out, rather than weekly. We will fit some sessions into holiday periods where possible.  Please look out for dates. To be sure not to miss notice of any, you may wish to sign up to the mailing list here or to email hoccic@gmail.com.

If you were there on any of our Woodland Play sessions this Autumn, please add your comments below!

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