"There is no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothes," is a motto that is used at Forest School, but on Wednesday, when heavy rain was forecast for the whole afternoon, we wondered whether our tarp shelter would be enough to keep our group of children (and their class teacher) happy and warm enough to enjoy their session fully.
What a pleasant surprise it was to us, that when we offered the opportunity to bring the activities inside, the class teacher replied that she would be more than happy to bring the children outside and that they were really looking forward to their session in the pouring rain.
So the session got underway with the children enthusiastically working in groups to create pharaoh faces with clay on the trees on the site. This was a great activity to really watch how they engaged with each other and worked out how to take a role within the group. It is interesting to see that children's initial idea of being fair involves sharing out the clay, so that each child has a piece to work with in the group, rather than working as a collective to create something together. They soon realised that this would not work and put their clay back together in one ball to make their artwork.
But back to the mud...
Whilst working on their faces and gathering resources from the environment, the children became more and more interested in the mud that was getting deeper, thicker and squelchier around them. I observe a pair of girls poking a stick in a mud hole to 'listen to the sound it makes, it's like the sticky glue in our song!" Another group of boys have become fascinated with the way the water is collecting on the tarp and intermitemtly pouring it off.
Play is so important as part of Forest School and it is this freedom to be 'silly' that I embraced, dipping my fingers in the mud and giving myself some mud warrior stripes. It started with questions of, "Why have you got mud on your face Emma?" but before long turned to, "Can I put mud on my face?" The freedom to choose to play with the mud!?!? I could see the look on the children's faces. "Are we actually allowed to do this?" and then the joy and laughter when they did. It was a real moment of fun.
The ideas started flowing and we stood back to observe some real, imaginative play: painting hands in mud, printing mud on trees, making mud traps and using the mud to add to their pharaoh faces. What started off as a session to support the children's class curriculum turned into so much more and it was a delight to watch.