This week’s topic was Rowan the Red Squirrel by Lynne Rickards. The story is about two squirrels called Hazel and Rowan who are about to leave their drey for the first time. Hazel is excited and can’t wait to explore the outside but Rowan, her brother, is a little more cautious and so he should be because there is a naughty fox about!
As inspired by our topic book and conversations about our outdoor environment we transformed our role play area into the ‘Oaktree Campsite’. The children have been really engaged and involved in the role play area which was complete with tent, fire, torches, maps, lantern and kettle! The Squirrels cooked meals on the fire, planned day trips and slept soundly in the tent.
This week we celebrated international ‘Outdoor Classroom Day’ where teachers and children from all over the world are encouraged to get outdoors and bring nature into learning. The Squirrels are obviously well versed in Outdoor Learning but it was exciting to explore a new area… Wandsworth Common! On arrival at Wandsworth Common we remembered our ‘safety rules’ before having ten minutes to be in the new environment. In this time the children found sticks that were taller than themselves, observed all the spider webs high up in the trees, swept leaves and made a ‘fire’.
We then broke off into our groups in search of leaves to make leaf puppets. The children were challenged to try and find a nice, whole leaf. This ended up being too easy for them so we asked the children to find another leaf that was different from the first. The children looked closely at the leaves, identifying when they had two the same or two different. Following on from this activity, we returned to the Safe Zone to make our puppets. We used masking tape to wrap around a stick and the stem of the leaf, before adding googly eyes.
We were really keen to give the children the freedom to explore the common independently and steer their own learning with an extended Free Play. We extended the Safe Zone to include trees that are perfect for climbing and provided the children with sheets, tarpaulin and pegs to build with. Climbing was challenging for some, while others created imaginary roles, driving cars and motorbikes. They worked together to build a shelter using the pegs and sheets around the trees.
As usual we finished the day by reading our topic book and even saw a few squirrels up in the trees. Even though the weather has turned colder the children were their usual buoyant selves and were unanimous in agreement that they had, had another fun day.
Back in the classroom we used our leaf puppets in Science to explore shadows. We began by discussing different sources of light, both natural and artificial, before using torches to see how shadows change when we move objects closer and then further away from the light. The children put on amazing puppet shows, giving their leaf puppets names and creating narratives around their props.
At the end of the week we were invited to the church to be part of the online remembrance Sunday service where Pastor Jim explained the importance of remembering those who lost their lives. It was great to be able to give two of the squirrels the important responsibility of carrying the poppy wreath and carefully placing it down in the church.