Saturday, 16 June 2012

poems, pancakes and planting

Just before half term I ran an inset for all the Dunkirk staff on the school allotment.  It gave all the adults a chance to really explore the space and discover the different layers of things waiting for them.  I'd put a treasure hunt together as a way of beginning to look at some of the things in the allotment, and this generated loads of conversations - between people but also between people and plants.

There's three of us at the school with the Level 3 Forest School Leader qualification, which is really exciting in terms of the work we can develop with the children and the support we can offer each other.  We lit a fire and the inset snack was cooked on that: toast, crumpets and elderflower fritters.  It was also a wonderful illustration of why a fire circle is so appealing.  It generated some really deep conversations about the importance of calm spaces for reflection, for sharing discoveries, for just "being" and why tinkering with the fire is so captivating.        

We all gathered things we found intriguing and used a simple, but really lovely poetry structure to each write a poem about the things we'd discovered.  We placed them all together and made a little museum of allotment treasures.

What I also loved was watching the different ways everyone chose to explore the space, just as a group of children might.  Some people wanted to be alone, some wanted to be with others, some wanted time to look and observe, some wanted to get busy with tools and others were really excited by the properties of the different plants.  A space like the allotment offers areas where people can do all of those things (unlike many indoor classrooms).  People laughed and joked and shared their discoveries, but they could also find solitude and space for contemplation - and also space for being quiet.

It was a really special opportunity to explore the many issues and educational opportunities offered by nature.  It gave all of us a chance to reflect upon what the children have been finding in the nature spaces at the school, but also to look at ourselves as both adults and to think about when we were children.   

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