The Greatest Outdoors

Category: Our Curriculum Page 1 of 3

Stars in their eyes

Orion

It is a great time of the year to start astronomy and having taught it to eleven and twelve year olds, I can tell you that children love the stars.

The constellations are a wonderful way for children to learn about history, maths, astronomy as well as mythology.

One of the simplest ways to start to know the constellations is to begin with a ‘charismatic’ on and there is no constellation more charismatic and more recognisable than Orion. Just before we go on, we are starting our Forest School sessions on 5 Jan.

To help you keep your new year’s resolutions to spend more time outdoors we have reduced our Jan/Feb prices to £15 per session for each child.

If you would like to take advantage of this offer, please contact us at hello@elementsschool.net

You can also book a session here.

Back to Orion! Visible in the skies from around 8 pm at night, it ‘rises’ till quite late and you can track it all the way across the skies till bedtime.

Locate Orion by looking for his ‘belt’ – which are the three stars in a straight line. Orion was such a distinctive constellation that even in the ancient past, our Babylonian astronomers – we follow the Babylonian tradition – already spotted him. And all the starts in Orion have Arabic names. The three stars are called Alnitak, Alnilam and Mintaka. However the two biggest stars, literally are Betelgeuse and Rigel. Betelgeuse is actually orange in colour, as a star you can see that, and Rigel is blue.

GO OUTSIDE NOW – OR LATER THIS EVENING – TO LOOK AT ORION.

How can you help your child to start to map the stars?

  1. You can get a star chart or map – or better still download an app on it.
  2. Locate Orion on it. Then do the same in the night sky.
  3. Then get some black paper and a white colour pencil and draw Orion out in it. You could even learn the Greek alphabet using it. Each major star has its own Greek alphabet in order of precedence.
  4. Here is the story of Orion, the Great Hunter. You can tell the story of Orion while looking at the constellation or drawing it on paper.
  5. Orion was likely the son of the sea-god Poseidon and Euryale, daughter of Minos, King of Crete. Orion could walk on the waves because of his father; he walked to the island of Chios where he got drunk and attacked Merope, daughter of Oenopion, the ruler there. In vengeance, Oenopion blinded Orion and drove him away. Orion stumbled to Lemnos where Hephaestus—the smith-god—had his forge. Hephaestus told his servant, Cedalion, to guide Orion to the uttermost East where Helios, the Sun, healed him; Orion carried Cedalion around on his shoulders. Orion returned to Chios to punish Oenopion, but the king hid away underground and escaped Orion’s wrath. Orion’s next journey took him to Crete where he hunted with the goddess Artemis and her mother Leto, and in the course of the hunt, threatened to kill every beast on Earth. Mother Earth (Apollo in some versions, disapproving of his sister’s relationship with a male) objected and sent a giant scorpion to kill Orion. The creature succeeded, and after his death, the goddesses asked Zeus to place Orion among the constellations. Zeus consented and, as a memorial to the hero’s death, added the Scorpion to the heavens as well.
  6. Finally locate Sirius, the Dog Star. I’ll write about Sirius tomorrow!

Happy stargazing!!!!

Diana mourns Orion – before immortalising him in the constellations

£15 sessions in January and February

To help you keep your new year’s resolutions to spend more time outdoors we have reduced our Jan/Feb prices to £15 per session for each child.

If you would like to take advantage of this offer, please contact us at hello@elementsschool.net

You can also book a session here.

We start on 5 Jan!!!

When life gives you apples you make baked apples

We made baked apples on Saturday! This perfectly sums up the season don’t you think? To book a session click here or email hello@elementsschool.net.

Nothing more satisfying than cooking outdoors
But first we had to harvest them…. and we did that using catapults…

Well, we tried… in the end we just gave up and collected them but we later made paper bullets and played Hide and Seek in the forest with our new catapults.

We cored the apples and put different kinds of delicious things into them!
Then we put them in the fire… five minutes was all it took for the small apples
We checked our chromatography project – the orange nasturtiums yielded a beautiful purple dye!!!
Then we did camouflage

Can you see the child? No? Good.

And before we knew it, two hours has flown past. Oh I told the story about Cellini’s salamander as we learnt how to create another fire structure.

Birthday Parties Outdoors

We have the most amazing party space. Two forests, a roundhouse, two open sided party spaces (one with a woodburning stove), toilet and loads of parking. We do the games and the activities, you provide the cake and the food. After it is over you just go home. It is really that simple.

Party games have included a cool scavenger hunt, beating the giant web, making bows and arrows from sticks which are lying around and some string. But we adapt to parties and children. We make a fire, go for a walk and visit frogs. Stories are told – from Greek myths to fairytales.

While we do this you have time to get the room ready and chill.

Party games/ activities last for an hour and a half and food etc is another half hour.

It could not be easier.

Go to this page to make a booking. Charges are £16 per child for the first ten children thereafter £12.50 for each child up to 15 children. Includes use of all facilities.

Hope to see you there!

Email hello@elementsschool.net for more details.

FREE TASTER THIS TUESDAY

The taster is full but you can book on our sessions. They are £15 for the first session and there is a discount if you book for the month. There is also a sibling discount. You can also email hello@elementsschool.net for more details.

FREE TASTER SESSION

To celebrate our first month we are offering a FREE TASTER SESSION at the QUARRIES on 20 October from 2 – 3 pm.

Booking is a must as spaces are limited. Book here.

Children of all ages are welcome and must be accompanied by their parents. We hope to see you there!!!

The wonderful world of the forest

Making a book using cordage to bind it and writing using charcoal

To book a session/ sessions with us go here.

Is there a better and more beautiful place to be than in a forest at this time of the year? The past day it has been rainy, but even in the forest, when it rains, you are sheltered. Also, we have our little hobbit hut and we are looking forward to finally lighting the fire in there as the nights draw in.

This week we left the oak galls behind – although we have discovered the ink is colour fast and does not bleed when it comes into contact with water – and instead started looking at other woodland crafts.

Making charcoal is one of the oldest activities human beings have undertaken

The making of charcoal is a doubled edged one. One the one hand, it is an extremely efficient way of using fire – on the other, forests all over the world are being decimated for this purpose. We do not make charcoal for burning though since we have so much wood for this, but rather, we make it for drawing.

Lighting a fire

Fire lighting is also a skill which all students have a chance to do – no matter how young they are. (Our students are between 6 and 12 years.) For many of them, it will be the first time someone has trusted them to do something very grown up – build their own fire.

From fire we have charcoal, but we also get lovely tea!

Forest tea – meadowsweet, freshly picked apples and nettles

This tea is perfect for all kinds of conditions. Nettle is full of iron and Vit K. Meadowsweet is a mild analgesic and a general good all rounder. Apples lend a season flavour and are a magical treat. We boil the water in a kelly kettle which is always special.

Making cordage

Cordage can be made from all kinds of things – including nettles. We tell the story of the Wild Swans as we make the string.

Viola! A book.

We trial a book and it is successful. From now on each student will have their own Forest School book in which they will record each week’s experiences…

Sitting by the fire and enjoying the last good days of the year…
Using pruning saws is something our 11 and 12 year olds are very adept at now

We are clearing out the dead wood on the lower branches of the oak forest to let light in and to enable entry to it. Forest management is an essential part of what we do.

Soil testing

Soil testing was also one of the activities we undertook. The soil is a precious fragile layer upon which all life depends and as Elements, we must also pay attention to the Earth.

Fire – the other element we work so closely with – it is what makes us human
From the elements, we create something new. That is our gift as human beings – we can create.

Thus passeth the month (almost!)

Tree pruning

We have had an amazing month. We have made ink, charcoal, cordage, bows and arrows, held a birthday party already and had more than twenty children through our doors. We have soil tested, counted up frogs, learned how to clear dead wood and remove ivy. And we have only just started.

Thank you to everyone who has been so supportive, especially Joan Woods and Tina Kearsting, our fairy godmothers – without them nothing would have been possible. And of course, the elementals themselves, who have been with us every step of the way. Thank you guys!

Happy Birthday!

We were delighted that Issac and Ruiri chose us to celebrate their birthdays!

To book a birthday party fill in this form or email hello@elementsschool.net.

Birthday boy lights a fire

We try to have activities which have them learning things but in a fun way. So one of the activities which we did was making your own bow. You then had to shoot an arrow from your bow. Hidden in this activity was the tensile strength needed to create a bow from a suitably bendy stick, tying a knot, and then learning to shoot an arrow – another found stick. It was the best fun we had.

Scavenger hunts had us all around the site, identifying flowers, plants and other found objects – and learning the names of the various autumnal berries, as well as looking at different kinds of leaves.

After that there was the party.

Before the party though was learning about the long drop toilet – Shrek’s Toilet as it will now forever be known as.

Feedback from the parent:

Hi guys – thank you so much for Saturday. I’ve been chatting to the boys – they both really enjoyed themselves and feedback from the other families was really positive! R- said he loved the story round the fire and Shrek’s hut and I- loved seeing the frogs.

From our perspective, the place and space is amazing, having the barn set up was great. You guys were great at answering questions, letting us know rough plan for the day and I thought the games and prizes were spot on.

Nettles and Oak

Making beautiful things out of the wild.

To book a session fill in this form or email hello@elementsschool.net.

One of the skills we teach in Elements is resilience. Not just through being in the elements and outdoors, but also being able to be a part of the natural world and use what we have around us.

This week we focused on nettles, how they were great for wildlife, excellent as a tea – lots of Vit K and iron, a great blood purifier – and of course what we REALLY focused on, making nettle cords.

Twisting nettles to make cords and testing their tensile strength
It was a revelation how tough these fibres are
We completed our oak gall odyssey

We ended the session doing land management – cutting the dead branches of trees to let light in a give more access to everything. This was my favourite part – to know that they have contributed to making this tiny part of the world a better place.

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