All posts by Valerie MacLean

Icetastic experiments

The children have been exploring the ice that had formed during last week’s cold spell. One child noticed the ice that we found in our water trough looked very different to the ice that had formed on some of our plants and furniture. What a great excuse for an investigation! Could there possibly be different types of ice?

Now, we could have had an experiment to see if ice lollies, ice cream or sorbets were all different but we wanted a challenge; how many types of natural ice are there, and can we make any?

Well, we discovered there are actually 17 different types of ice but could we make any? Of course we could! Jack Frost helped us too, there was sheet ice in the garden and we also found a little bit of rime on the furniture and plants but we had wanted to make our own. We looked in our nature box and found flowers, twigs, leaves, seeds and nuts which we washed so they had a little coating of water and we popped them in the freezer. Everyday we went in and sprayed them with a little more water to see if we could make our own rime. We also put a thin layer of water in a tub to make our own sheet ice. We filled some pots with water to make water ice. Finally, we mixed salt and water to make sea ice which stayed a little bit soft even after 5 days in the freezer.

So, I bet you all want to know, what other types of ice there is that we did not make out of the 17? Pancake, dinner plate, blue, green, black, hoar, névé, chandelier, candle, hail, interstellar, cubic and hexagonal. Wow, so many types!

This activity had the children guessing, thinking, enquiring, exploring and doing in an outdoor environment. We all learned so much and had such a nICE time learning more about the wonders of nature.

We made our own spikey (rime) ice
This is still a bit runny, it hasn’t turned very hard.

[caption id="attachment_12887" align="alignnone" width="945"] It’s so smooth.

Forest School Week 9

It’s hard to believe that we’ve reached week 9 of Forest School. We’ve been so privileged to watch summer slip in to autumn and this morning we had our first taste of winter with frosty patterns to look at and crisp, crunchy sounds underfoot. Seeing the changing seasons in the forest is a wonderful way for children to appreciate the wonders of nature. As forest school practitioners, the changing seasons gives us the opportunity to discuss why these must happen but, the best part for all of us is the visual impact that seasons make in the forest throughout the year. Discussion with your children is endless; colours, changes, temperature, sounds, smells and who wants a hot chocolate! So, we hope that when this block ends after next week’s cook-out we have shared our passion with our budding foresteers and that they will join us for our Big Fit Walk on Saturday 9th November to share their new found appreciation of our beautiful outdoors with you!

Maths Week at the Forest

The boys and girls were looking around the forest floor at all the leaves and seeds that had started to fall to the ground. Everywhere we looked we found leaves that were green, yellow, orange and brown. The boys and girls began to see patterns in the shape of the leaves, then they decided that they could make their own patterns. They set to work gathering lots of different leaves and acorns and used them to make some lovely nature patterns!

It’s a rainbow leaf

I think it is a flower.


It is small and then it is big.

Harvest Time in the Garden

Today the boys and girls got to see the results of all their hard work throughout the year. We have tended our plants from little seeds, nurtured them as they have grown, fed and watered them through the summer and now the time has come to taste some of our vegetables!
First we have to pick the biggest vegetables we can find as we want to make soup.

This looks like a big leek

I have a really big onion

Here is another one!

The potatoes need peeled after being in the muddy ground.

Look at all the roots, this is how the plant gets fed from the ground.

The onions get chopped up and added to our soup pot.

So do the leeks…

Now we need to care for the environment and compost all our waste.

And now it’s time to get our soup cooking on the fire.

And at last, it’s time to taste our home grown soup.

Forest school week 3

The children are developing new skills each week at the forest. Today our group had the busiest day ever! The boys and girls tried out some mud make up before we learned about being safe around a fire.

We pegged out sticks to make a safe zone where we could all sit, while Val heated water for our hot chocolate on the Kelly Kettle. The children used some fantastic descriptive words for the noises they heard from the fire. ‘Sizzle’, ‘woosh’, ‘hiss’ were just a few of them.

After hot chocolate we went exploring and were so lucky to find a door to a fairy house, we knocked and knocked but nobody was home.

We finished our busy day collecting bags of nature to take back to Cart Mill and show our friends.

We had thought about making little rafts today but the river was just too fast so we decided just to watch it for a little while.

What a big waterfall

Our Very Own Cart Mill Forest

The children had spent the morning at the forest hunting for different types of seeds and brought some back to the centre to show their friends. Some of the children were very inquisitive and wanted to know what all the seeds would grow into.

We decided our favourite was the beech nut as it looked like a baby hedgehog. One of the children noticed that one of our beech nuts was starting to open and we could actually see the tiny seed inside. Val found another beech nut that had opened completely which the children were able to harvest the seed from. They then went to our mini forest and planted it to see if it would grow next year.

We are so lucky to be able to watch our forest grow every year. So far we have; oak trees from acorns we planted last year, apple trees from seeds we gathered during snack and cherry trees that we have grown from cherry stones. The children love learning about nature and are developing their own nurturing skills by caring for their plants.

What seed is this?
It feels fuzzy.
This one is open.
Look at the tiny seed!
Our miniature forest.

Is the hole deep enough?
We need to cover up the seed.
“They look like baby hedgehogs”

Forest School Week 2

Last week the children went to our smaller forest school but today we went on a big adventure to our favourite site at Busby Glen. There was so much to explore. The walk was very exciting, we saw a train track and went under a big bridge. We were told by one of the children there were 400 trees on the way. They  found some really big trees to climb and had lots of fun but the highlight was definitely the hot chocolate!

I can balance.
I’m going higher.
Can I put my biscuit in?

I love marshmallows!