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

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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.