As the new term begins in a few days time many children will venture down to the woods for their first experience of a Forest School session. Forest School practitioners and teachers will be looking for an activity that captures the children’s imagination, encourages them to explore the woods, be creative and use their senses. One of our favourite introduction activities is about Blackberry and stars. We usually run this activity with children aged 3-5 years. The activity involves mini shelter building, searching around the woods, collecting natural materials and lots of imagination. For children who have made magic potions before this activity provides a new hook for a familiar activity. Fancy having a go? Here we go then.
What do you need?
– a puppet
– a bag with one shiny star in
– a shiny star for each child
– potion pot for each child (plastic cups work well)
– a few rolls of sellotape
– a bottle of magic potion – mix water, food dye, food essence and glitter. Peppermint and strawberry essence work well.
Before the session starts hide the stars around the woods and place the puppet, the bag and bottle in the seating area where the children will meet.
What do you do?
1. The children will be naturally curious to find out who the puppet is! Introduce the puppet and tell the children their name. Our puppet is called Blackberry. Tell the children the following story, acting it out and adapting as needed:-
In our wood live many different creatures. Some are big and some are small, some are long and some are short, Some are real. There are hedgehogs, birds and mice. Some are magical. There are elves, fairies and gnomes. Each of the magical creatures has a special job to do and Blackberry helps looks after the animals in the woods who have hurt themselves. Each day Blackberry makes special potions that will help the animals. She carefully collects natural materials and then mixes them together before adding some of her special pink potion. Finally she takes a shiny star from her bag, sticks it on a stick to make a wand and then waves it over the potion. Whoosh the potion is ready.
At the end of the day Blackberry goes home to her little house at the bottom of the oak tree. She carefully hangs her bag on a twig, before having tea and going fast asleep. But on Monday something terrible happened. During the night there was a terrible storm. Blackberry curled up and pulled her leaf blanket around her ears. She listened to the wind howling through the trees, and the thunder crackling through the trees. The next morning she crawled out of her house and looked around the woods. She smiled, all the trees were safe. But then she saw her bag of stars. “Oh no”, she cried. The bag had blown off the twig and was lying on the ground. Carefully Blackberry picked up the bag and looked inside. There was only one star left. She turned the bag inside out and shook it. No stars left. “The stars must have blown away in the wind, who is going to help the animals now?”, Blackberry wept.
3. Give each child a potion pot and encourage the children to collect natural materials to make a magic potion. Talk about what materials they are using. What are they and Where did they find them? Which animal will their potion help? What does their potion do? Does their potion have a name?4. Add some magic potion to their pot. Invent some magical words and then wave your wand over the potion pot while chanting your magic words. Smell the potion, has it worked? 5. Finally leave the potions in the woods for Blackberry find. Encourage the children to find a special place in the woods and build a small shelter to keep their potion safe.
When the children visit the woods next time make sure you have left them a note from Blackberry and the animals to thank the children for all their hard work. Have fun!