Tent pegs, a skipping rope, a pair of wooden spoons, a porridge bowl, some red and blue balloons, a pack of chewing gum, 3 spotty hankies and a tom tom drum…
Not a collection of items I would usually take to too a small woodland. However I went to my sons pre school, mid October last year. The manager of the pre school wanted me to come and do some forest school/outdoor learning with the children. As a trained play worker and forest school leader I believe strongly that play is a fundamental part of learning for a child so, when planning these activities, I aim for the teacher input to be short and the children’s imagination and inquisitiveness to take care of the learning. In this instance that imagination and inquisitiveness was going to come from one of my sons favourite books, Jack and the Flum Flum tree….
The set up took a bit of time however nothing to detailed, I few blow up sharks (small swimming pool shark inflatables) and a few monkey puppets scattered around the woodland area and a watermelon (the flum flum) that had big pink paper spots stuck onto it with icing sugar hidden slightly up in a tree (low enough for the children to access but high enough to encourage some problem solving). The contents of granny’s patchwork sack was in the middle of a log circle (I had created some mint slime instead of chewing gum).
The children came out and we walked them through the woodland area, they were puzzled to see sharks and monkeys in the trees “sharks don’t live in trees!” Shouted a child, a quick little discussion about a sharks habitat and before we had even got to the book the child led learning had begun.
We got to the log circle and sat around, they looked inquisitively at the things in the middle of the circle, nothing was said, I started to read the book. The children listened and started to chat about stuff in the book and began laughing, some children had linked the stuff in the log circle was what was in granny’s sack (showing connections).
We finished the book and discussed what they had seen in the forest.
“Wonder if there is a flum flum tree in this wood?”
I said to the children that they could play with the things in the log circle and I left them to play, we had children drumming, puppet play, children chasing other children with sharks, children playing quietly with the slime, tent pegs being hammered into the ground and 1 child throwing spotty hankies into the air and watching them fall to the ground for s very, VERY long time, every child totally focused on something ….
“IVE FOUND A FLUM FLUM!” Rattled through the trees at one point, we went over to have a look, sure enough there was a “flum flum”.
“How can we get it”
“Climb the tree”
“Push it down with a stick”
“It might smash on the floor”
“Get a teacher to get it”
“2 people climb the tree”
Lots of discussion and child led ideas, in the end a child climbed the tree and pushed it down, three children stood at the bottom waiting to catch it, saw it was about to fall, got scared and ran out of the way (good risk assessing from the 3 year olds) and watermelon survived the fall…
Stupidly in my head the children would have all sat around at the end of the session and tried some nice, juicy watermelon. Reality was 2 children sat for 30 minutes hammering tent pegs into it with wooden spoons (loose parts, gross motor skills and hand eye co ordination). We managed to remove the tent pegs, save most of the water melon and the children had a bit to try to finish…
So much was learnt and some much imaginary play took place just from one book, so how much stronger could a child’s imagination be by reading them just one book a day.