Friday, 11 April 2014

Outdoor Play Party - Visit to An Creagán.

I have been taking my class to the 'Wild Woods' area in An Creagán for the past 4 years. It is one of the few remaining sites for schools that still retains an education officer, Peter & we have known him for over 6 years as he used to be based in Peatlands Park too & he helped to build our willow dens back at school & establish our wooded area & made our sign for Bear Woods.
In the past few months he has been adding new things to the Wild Woods area & we couldn't wait to go explore them with a whole new class.
For the past 2 weeks we had been taking about going to An Creagán & looking at a map of the Wild Woods area. The children were aware that there were 3 ponds, a fire circle where we could eat our lunch, a tree house & a bridge over one the ponds. 
It takes us about 45 minutes to get there & the children were brilliant on the bus, just chatting away to each other for what must have seemed like a very long journey. 
When we arrived Peter met us of the bus & he children were excited to see another larger map of the area & some quickly identified the ponds & were able to figure out where the Wild Woods were. Even though it was their first time, they felt confident enough to run on a little ahead, until they came to the gate, they all know only a grown up opens the gate.
As it was our first time we all made our way to the fire circle - a gorgeous, newly built stone one - and had a chat about what we were going to do that morning. 

Each child had their lunch in a little back pack that we were able to leave at the fire circle while we went off on a walk around the area so they could see all that was on offer. For some of the staff we hadn't been here since last June so it was great to see all the new additions. 
The tree house is great - a 2 tired platform built around a big tree - the children loved looking out through the little port holes on the top deck & down into the ponds. There are now little platforms built at the top of many of the steep banks so when the children (or adults) climb to the top they can have a rest & look down to the whole area below. There is a big wide bridge built over one of the 4 ponds - not 3 like on the map the children were delighted to discover. Peter & the staff have worked really hard to make sure there is something on offer for everyone & for a good age range of children too.

Some of the children spent a lot of time pond dipping & then looking at what they had found in some white trays. One little boy was so excited to catch a frog in his net & they managed to catch 2 newts & loads of frogspawn & tadpoles.
Petting a frog - what an experience.
Holding a tickly newt!

We all felt that our weekly visits to Bear Woods meant that the children were entirely comfortable in this new & challenging space - they are used to walking on a slope in there & climbing up the small slope using climbing ropes so when presented with much steeper banks they just got on with it.

We had our lunch around a very smokey fire & then toasted some marshmallows before the children all got their rain gear off & had a play in the play park. Then we had to head back to school where we had just enough time to get shoes back on before it was time to go home.
The children were buzzing about the Wild Woods & can't wait to go back again next month.

It was so great to see so many fab posts linked up to the last OPP & it is heartening to see people really getting creative with their outdoor spaces & trying to ensure they get outdoors as much as possible. But if I have to pick one to feature it's from the always amazing Takoma Park Cooperative Nursery School on their trips to the forest - Turn Left at the Bike Bridge.
This one probably appealed most to me, as a fellow nursery teacher, because it beautifully & eloquently explained why we make an effort to take the young children in our classes out on trips & visits & how all that they learn on such trips will help them later on with more academic skills.
  • Any kind of children's outdoor play-related posts are welcome!

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  1. I love your fire circle with the lunch bags there and what a lot you found for the children along your walk. These are days they will remember for years to come. I do love the experience and opportunity you provide.

    1. I do love that photo too, thanks for your support & for hosting another link up to encourage outdoor fun xx

  2. This attention given to smalldetails to help kids learn more is so awesome. #countrykids

    1. Thanks for leaving such a lovely comment.

  3. I'm always jealous of your trips to An Creagan. The fire circle is beautiful.

    1. It is stunning isn't it? Such a great addition & thanks for linking up too.

  4. we went pond dipping this week too it was so much fun and the boys loved it. imagine the delight on the kids faces at petting that frog - just priceless. i can imagine their squeals of delight. sounds like such a great place to take themx

    1. I love that the exact same white trays appear in both our posts!

  5. Spring is such a great time for pond dipping - and I have been lucky enough to find 2 posts on it tonight. I loved pond dipping as a child - I think I'll have to take my daughter this weekend to see what we can pull up. Great post. Thanks for sharing!

  6. Thanks, hope you have as much fun as us.have come across 'The Bog Baby' by Jeanne Wills? It is a gorgeous book to whet the imagination for pond dipping.


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