Since coming back to school, the children at The Forest School have been engaging in a therapeutic, nurturing curriculum, and as part of this we have been spending a lot of time outdoors, getting to know the nature that lives all around us.
We are so lucky in our school to have a ‘Forest School’ program on site, where our resident outdoor leader, Mrs Hall, teaches the children (and staff) all sorts of wonderful and exciting things about the world beyond our doorsteps.
This term, one class in particular have become local wildlife experts and have spent hours out on the field, surveying the minibeasts and building micro-habitats for our natural neighbours.
One morning on their bug hunt, they noticed that the nettles in our wildlife meadow were turning
black, which was very strange, so we decided to investigate! On closer inspection they found that the leaves were moving and were covered in beautiful black, spiky caterpillars.
The children were absolutely fascinated to see hundreds of them living and thriving so close to our classroom, so we decided to watch them grow! We set up a butterfly habitat in our classroom and very
carefully (so as not to get stung) collected some nettles and their caterpillar inhabitants to keep and grow in our classroom! We very quickly discovered that our timing could not have been better, as within two short days, the prickly black caterpillars began to transform! By the end of the weekend, we had twenty shiny green chrysalises and all that was left to do was wait.
Twelve days passed and the excitement was just too much! Eventually we began to see splits in the chrysalises and beautiful butterflies emerged! In just two weeks, our tiny caterpillars had amazingly metamorphosised into stunning Peacock butterflies! As budding naturalists, the children knew that we had to release them back into their natural habitats – our school field – and that is exactly what we did.
Our great British butterfly release was such a special occasion that we invited our Head Teacher, Miss Farr to join us! Each of us chose our very own butterfly and we held them in the open air until the wind
caught their wings and they flew free! The children gained so much from this experience and some have already asked if we can do the same again next year, so we are keeping our fingers (and toes) crossed and are hoping our butterflies like our school field enough to stay and lay their own eggs next year! We can’t wait.
Being in the outdoors has been an invaluable healing experience for our children at The Forest School.
They have been able to forget their worries from the past few challenging months and develop a renewed
sense of trust in the great outdoors. It has been lovely to see them relaxed and engaged, immersing themselves into the nature that surrounds us. We are all so excited to learn more about the natural world and we can’t wait to for all of the adventures that our ‘Forest School’ program will take us on next year.