Show and Tell

By Sally Hall

I want to talk about sharing our stories with the people around us. At Dacres Wood we don’t live in a vacuum. Every member of the community has a home life, things that they think about, issues they are grappling with, and things that they like to spend their time doing outside of our three days in the reserve. Continue reading “Show and Tell”

The Third Teacher

By Sally Hall

Games shelves, musical instruments and seating area

You may have noticed that Dacres Wood looked a little different after the summer holidays! In the reserve the leaves were starting to brown, the baby moorhens had grown fast, and berries, helicopters and conkers were appearing on the trees. But the biggest changes were to be seen indoors! Continue reading “The Third Teacher”

The places we didn’t know existed

By Rowan Salim

In preparation for the first day at Dacres’ Wood, I made a map to give to the children.  The map was a sketch of the reserve made into a puzzle. I had named some of the main landmarks I could see and invited the children to explore the forest and find which is which. I knew at the time that this map would be temporary. That with time and play, names would change, places would morph, and legend would emerge. But little could prepare me for the richness, depth and intricacies of the meaning of place in the children’s world; and I challenge any cartographer to capture the contours of a world which shifts with season and story, dips through dimensions and holds the hand of imagination.

Continue reading “The places we didn’t know existed”

The Small Meeting

By Sally Hall

It’s a sunny day sometime last term and I’m standing in the kitchen making some coffee. Lunch has just finished and a few children are outside in the woods playing Harry Potter. Rowan is out there too playing the part of Voldemort. Some other children are indoors making constructions with straws.

All of a sudden, Rowan rushes in and in a serious tone she calls over to me.

“Sally, I need to call a small meeting with you”. Continue reading “The Small Meeting”

Learning to lay off

By Rowan Salim

The day the children started cleaning the bricks was magical for me. I’m not exactly sure how it started. One moment there was a pile of old used bricks covered in hardened mortar, and the next there was a production line of workers meticulously hammering and chiselling the mortar off, piling the bricks into countable piles and checking for quality control. It was even more organised than that, with a boss giving out jobs and instructions and organising breaks for the workers to run around the forest in turn and rest tired hands. Continue reading “Learning to lay off”

Are gorillas grown up monkeys?

By Rowan Salim

Seed dispersal

Last term (spring term) we started a science club. This came about when a visiting parent suggested it in the meeting, the children cheered, and there it was, up and running. Friday afternoons, dedicated to science. It would be fun, it would be experiment based, the children could propose experiments or themes they wanted to explore, and no one would be forced to take part. We started by doing lava lamps and gigantic bubbles. Both afternoons were fun and the children’s understanding of the properties of materials was probably enhanced. Continue reading “Are gorillas grown up monkeys?”

‘Sitting Down’ v ‘The Upside-Down Jungle’

By Sally Hall

Every day I spend at Dacres Wood I learn something new. Last week it was how to identify animal tracks left in the snow and what moorhens like to eat. The week before that it was wood carving and bricklaying. The past week or so however, for me, has been a lesson in how to hold different kinds of spaces at Dacres Wood. Spaces for quietly concentrating, dreaming and making; as well as spaces for group play, discussion and laughter. Continue reading “‘Sitting Down’ v ‘The Upside-Down Jungle’”

Strewing Music

By Sally Hall

Music gives soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and charm and gaiety to life and to everything – Plato.

The Colourgrams!

One afternoon a few weeks ago at Dacres Wood, as I wandered up the steps from the pond to the meadow, my ears picked out a sweet sound amongst the birds, the blowing of the trees and the giggling of children. As I climbed the steps and turned the corner towards our ‘climbing tree’, the sound grew nearer. This was the tuneful strumming of a ukulele and the rhythmic rapping of a tune. Sat upon a log, bathing in the sunshine, T, L and E had formed a band called The Colourgrams and were practising their first song! Continue reading “Strewing Music”