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13 – Woodland Imps

 

Wild Elements has had a lot of parents ask us if their children aged 6 or 7 could join us at one of our playschemes, and the answer to this is Yes! Here at Wild Elements we believe that the outdoors is for everyone and that’s why for children not old enough to attend our Wild in the Woods Club (8+) we run our fun Woodland Imps sessions for children 5 and older. These fun days out in the woods are held at our woodland site at Glan Faenol and run from 10am-4pm. Here your little one can enjoy exploring the woods making their own discoveries, play exiting games thought up by Wild Elements for them to enjoy and parents can enjoy knowing that their children are having fun in a safe environment and being cared for by skilled Lv 3 forest school leaders.

Woodland Imps group of children

 

Woodland Imps has been tailored for a younger group of children while at the same time still being fun and challenging, our next session of Woodland Imps from today’s date (12/03/15) will be on Good Friday (the 3 April) and anyone wo would like there little ones to join us can sign them up by viewing our Woodland Imps page here.

 

 

12 – The Magic in the Library

 Harry Potter Newspaper article

Wild Elements, in partnership with the Bangor public Library, held a fun Harry Potter themed event, bringing in a large group of eager young students from the local area who enjoyed themselves making Potions, Wands, Spells and even got to leave with their own owl. The highlight for many was making the Hogwarts Crest with the colours on the shield which is still hanging in Bangor Library.

This event also attracted some publicity from the Chronicle newspaper who reported on the event.

11 – Sports past times

Standing child with his hand made bowWhat would you consider a good sport? Football, Rugby, Boxing ….. Chess? All of these are fine sports to be sure, but at Wild Elements there is one sport that we have a keen interest in above many others and that sport is Archery. When you consider Archery it is an immensely difficult sport, requiring both mental and physical stamina. What’s more when you consider the Bow itself it has a longer history than any other sporting tool.  The bow was one of the first things invented by man to be used as a hunting tool, and we have been making and using them for around 64, 000 years. In that time it has been used for hunting, a weapon and as a tool. However today archery is still used in some parts of the world as a hunting tool but its primary use now is purely for recreation.

 Archery is a sport focuses on the ability to exactly repeat the same set of movements each time the bow is fired to produce the same result. If focus on standing in the same place, pulling the bowstring back in the same way, releasing the arrow in the same way and aim at the same point and the second arrow should hit the same area as the first. However it is more difficult than it seems.Group shooting there hand made bows

This provides a very different set of criteria to success than most common sporting past times such as Football or Rugby, putting the priority on mental focus rather than physical prowess, it is truly a remarkable sport. At present there are 3 Wild Elements members that practice archery and Wild Elements have even been asked to run 5 Archery sessions starting in May. Please let us know your thoughts on Archery.

 

10 – Wild Rangers

Lifting Logs Wild Elements have had a fair few repeaters come to our Wild in the Woods sessions, and some of them are getting older. So for you guys Wild Elements have been working on our new Wild Rangers. Wild Rangers is our newest outdoor group for children 11 and older where we will be doing more advanced workshops including new craft activities, wood carving, campfire cooking and an abundance of new and more difficult activities for you all to enjoy. So far we have not confirmed a date for Wild Rangers but anyone who would like to know more can look online at the Wild Rangers page or contact us directly at info@wildelements.org.uk. We promise to keep you updated as this newest project develops and we hope to see a lot of our old enthusiastic woodland explorers.

9 – The joys of Mud

 Hello everyone, we hope you are all doing well and the cold weather we have been having hasn’t got anyone down. Wild Elements first activity of the New Year is happening in a little over 2 weeks, a nice start to the New Year with our Library Woods and Words Session. Originally these sessions were only for children 8 and older but they have now been made available to children of all ages (but children under 8 will need a parent to stay with them). We are looking forward to this event and the upcoming Forest Schools that will follow, let us know if you are interested in these sessions as we have a few places left to fill.

Playing in the MudWhile in the office discussing our activities within our group we discussed our Mud Kitchens. These fun little bowls of mud that can entertain children for hours or even days if you let them. Mud kitchens aren’t limited to any age or gender which makes them a perfect activity for them to enjoy. But of course as parents you all know the downside of playing with mud, MESS and usually a lot of it, I would like to have you think of a few reasons why you should encourage playing with mud.

 

Playing in the mud can make you happier.

Scientists have discovered something that children have always known – playing in the mud can lift your mood.  Recent studies have revealed that dirt contains microscopic bacteria called Mycobacterium vaccae which increases the levels of serotonin in our brains, helping to relax, soothe and calm.

 

Playing in the mud connects you with nature.

If you never know something, it’s hard to care about it. Many kids these days never know the outdoors beyond the school playground or their own backyards, if they even have one. Getting kids outside to play (as a place to act out make believe worlds and explore) creates happy memories with the one most primal element in our world: nature.


Playing in the mud helps children to learn and develop.

Sensory, hands-on play feeds children’s brains.  Listing all the ways playing with mud – a delightfully sensory experience – can help children to learn and develop would be a whole post in itself.  So I’m going to send you here for a thorough look at the value of sensory play.

 

Playing in the mud can make you healthier.

Step away from the antibacterial hand wipes.  Research has shown that playing in the dirt – including very wet dirt – is good for a child’s immune system.

“So let your child be a child. Dirt is good. If your child isn’t coming in dirty every day, they’re not doing their job. They’re not building their immunological army. So it’s terribly important.” – Mary Ruebush is the author of Why Dirt Is Good: 5 Ways to Make Germs Your Friends

 

Childhood memories.

Think back to your own childhood.  Do you have happy memories of playing outside in the mud and the dirt?  After all, making mud pies is one of the iconic images of childhood.  We are creating the experiences, the memories and the childhoods of today’s children.   What do we want them to remember?

So with these reasons and more that we could tell you, what do you think of playing with Mud?

 

8 – New Year’s Resolutions

Tom Cockbill with an Elf hatHello everyone and a happy belated New Year to you all, we hope that everyone enjoyed their Christmas and had a fantastic new year, we certainly did. Wild Elements is currently preparing for the year, we have received new equipment and are currently planning all of the playschemes, Forest Schools and all our outdoor sessions. At the start of the year when we all returned to the office we discussed our new year’s resolutions. Aaron’s was to try and be more active in his hobbies, primarily his visual hobbies. He plans to get out more and get more active with his photography, Peter plans to try and get off his X-Box a bit more and focus on more physical activities.

With this in mind we would love to hear from all of you and find out what your New Year Resolutions were. Did anyone make a resolution to get out more or to try and get the kids off of their computers like Aaron and Peter? With resolutions to get your kids out we are happy to help with the announcement a few of our upcoming playschemes.

Currently Wild Elements has only a few Forest School places left and we would like to hear from any schools or groups that would like to get the kids out of the classroom and to learn in a natural environment, to find out more please call us on: 07799566533 or email Tom Cockbill at: tom@wildelements.org.uk.

We also have an upcoming Woods and Words session in Bangor Public Library on the 7th of February, for those who don’t know this is a free session that lasts from 2PM until 3PM were kids can experience a taster of what Wild Elements does. If you would like to join us on this session please book with Bangor Library by email: LlBangor@gwynedd.gov.uk or by phone: (01248) 353479.

Next up is our beloved Wild in the Woods (Yay) this will be from the 17th to the 19th from our usual time of 9AM until 5PM. Past goers will be happy to know that we have kept our single day booking option so if you can’t make it for all 3 days you can now come for 1.

We are bringing Woodland Imps to Bangor! A session aimed at kids aged five and over, it will focus more on exploring the woods and learning about the trees and bugs we share them with, with lots of crafts, games and fun thrown in for good measure.

We are looking forward to all our events and we hope we get a great turn out. Other exciting news for us to share is that Wild Elements is working on a new project for our older participants who have come to our Wild in the Woods Club before. This is still in the works and we will keep you updated as it progresses. We hope you enjoy your New Year as much as we will and if anyone wants to tell us about their Resolutions please feel free to post them on our Facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/wildelementswales

 

7- October half term: Halloween and cathedral mice.

Lantern making session picOctober has come and gone, and with it our Halloween half term playscheme. We built dens and went to see the obstacle course and outdoor gym in Penrhyn Castle’s Rook Wood, then came back on the second day to build our own obstacle course, and made vegetable soup. Then on the last day we had a session of pizza making as well as several of the kids helping me to split small logs for the campfire and stove.

The lantern workshop was also a success, with lots of children arriving at the cathedral that evening with lanterns to explore and try and find the mice that are hidden in the carvings around the interior of the cathedral (I still haven’t found them all yet!).

So all in all we have had a fantastic half term, and now we are moving into the half term before Christmas, which will hopefully be full of classes joining us for our Christmas Hands On experiences as well as a few more birthday parties.

If you are interested in joining us for any of our upcoming events, please email us at info@wildelements.org.uk

 

6 –Woods and Words

Woods and words is one of the free events Wild Elements runs in partnership with the Bangor Public Library. During these little sessions we give the local children the opportunity to see what we do by bringing the outdoors indoors for some fun games and craft activities. Over the last 18 months we have done and made many things in the library and we have had a blast. Have a look at some of our favorite pics. 

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What do you think of these lovely finished hand crafted items? If you would like to join one of our Woods and Words sessions, please contact Bangor Library to find out when our next session is at:  LlBangor@gwynedd.gov.uk or by phone: (01248) 353479.

 

5 – Where did the Summer Holidays go?

We had six weeks of (mostly) amazing weather and meeting brilliant people: new faces and old friends, and now it’s time to head back off to school! Of course we are still going to be out in the woods, but now we’re working with school classes and groups, not playschemes. On Friday we are off up to Glan Faenol to teach a class everything they ever wanted to know about trees, and after that we have a weekend of birthdays to get ready for.

SHAMELESS SALES PITCH: To anyone who came on our playschemes this Summer and enjoyed it, why not ask your school about Forest Schools? We currently have funding from Snowdonia National Park to offer a class 6 half day sessions over 6 weeks FOR FREE, (excluding the cost of travel). If they find this interesting, they can contact us at info@wildelements.org.uk for further information. If six weeks is too much of a commitment then we can also discuss one off sessions for larger groups, although this is not covered by the funding and so carries a charge. HERE ENDS THE SALES PITCH.

There is also a lot of work to be done in tidying up the Secret Garden. Five weeks of running around doing activities have unfortunately necessitated five weeks of not working on the garden and as a result weeds have sprung up like, well, weeds! So if anyone has any good recipes for dandelions I would be interested to hear them.

That’s all from me for this week, as always if you want to get involved you can email us at info@wildelements.org.uk and let us know what you would like to do.

4-Little ones Wild Times

We have been down in Llanberis recently with our first ever Little Ones Wild Times session. This fun day out for toddlers proved to be a huge success with families enjoying themselves on this short day out. Our little adventurers got to get their hands dirty making Mud Pie’s and making shapes and towers with our noggin set, trying hard not to pop a water balloon with our balloon toss game and enjoy making some wild art and having a few minutes to relax in our quiet area.  However the highlight for the little ones had to be making the s’mores on the campfire.

We will have another session in Llanberis coming up soon and we will be enjoying a few new activities with the kids including a fun new water challenge.

3 – Summers here

So we are now about a third of the way through summer, which as usual is going past at near light speed. Into these first two weeks we have managed to cram two library days, three Wild Nature days and six days of Wild in the Woods club, all of which have been fantastic, as well as some serious bramble bashing and garden management.

We have had two days kick starting the Mythical Maze Summer Reading challenge across Gwynedd, in fact as I write this I am brushing up on my story telling skills for a third session this afternoon in Bangor library. We have so far covered Caernarfon and Dollgellau libraries, injecting a little bit of mythical magic and mayhem into the challenge launches at both places. 14610848034_2f77405cb5_o

We’ve also been up to Penrhyn Castle delivering Wild Days each Monday to show visitors about insects, pond life and mammals respectively. We have also shown visitors the joys of rolling down hills, the high-speed world of snail racing, the technical side of building mini rafts and making bird feeders out of apples and the fine art of sitting very, very still when a bunch of wasps come by to raid your store of apples.

 Tom has led two sets of Wild in the Woods Club sessions, both well attended and both well received. We’ve been making bows and arrows, creating the ULTIMATE assault course, building dens and having water fights, as well as woodcraft activities. We still have places on the play schemes at the end of the holidays (starting on the 19 and 26 of August) but they are filling up fast, and looking like they will also be a huge amount of fun.

Finally we have begun clearing the brambles at the back of the Secret Garden to make way for the first stage of the National Trusts tree nursery, with help from a large number of brilliant volunteers we managed to uncover a sizeable area from under a 6 foot high tangle of brambles and create room for 1,500 plants for the nursery which can now go in ahead of schedule.

Once again we are always on the lookout for more volunteers so if any of this sounds like stuff you want to be involved in let us know at info@wildelements.org.uk. That is all from me for now, I am off to go tell some stories!

2 – Hello from Aaron

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Hello Everyone, I’m Aaron and I am the Marketing Support Assistant for Wild Elements. I help with the day-to-day activities that are required in the office as well as updating our website, send out emails and arrange our bookings amongst a very long list of things that need doing.
On average I spend most of my time in the office but I also help out whenever we have a show or when Tom and Resi need an extra hand during a playscheme. I have been with Wild Elements for roughly 6 months; lately I have been helping out at most of our shows, the most recent of which was at Rowen and we have discovered that kid’s really love to hit cans with bean bags. These shows are a great way for us to get new people interested in Wild Elements as most people who come to these shows are looking for the fun days that we produce for their kids. What I have been working on recently with Peter is the preparation for our Pirate themed Birthday party. This will be Wild Elements first official themed birthday party so we have spent a lot of time planning and wo14247904057_6827014904_orking on this and we are very hopeful for a good outcome so that we can introduce other themed parties. Over the next few weeks we will be putting the Pirate Pete’s Birthday Party to the test and our Wild in the Woods playschemes will start very soon on the 22 July. We all hope lots of our readers will be attending.

1 – Hello and Secret Gardening

Hello, my name is Peter Walton and I am Wild Elements’ new Learning Support Assistant. Well, I say new but I have actually become pretty much part of the furniture both in the office and outdoors at most of the events and sessions W.E. run; I have worked with Resi and Tom for about three years now! This blog series is going to record primarily what me and my fellow intern Aaron Jones (Marketing Support Assistant and self-proclaimed office bod) get up to over the next six months. This is so that (a) Resi and Tom can see that we actually DO get things done, and (b) hopefully you can find some aspect of Wild Elements that you want to get involved in yourself. W.E. really couldn’t do most of the things we do without the support of our volunteers. Introductions aside, let’s get onto what I’ve been doing for the last few weeks.

The Secret Garden is located at the bottom of the drive at Penrhyn Castle. Formerly an allotment and pig sty area, it became overrun with weeds until the National Trust rediscovered it and began restoring it to its former horticultural glory. Wild Elements has since taken over the horticultural aspect of the management of the site, which it will soon share with a National Trust tree nursery.

The last few weeks have seen a lot of planting out of different crops, from our greenhouse to the many raised beds that cover the site. Both beds and greenhouse are the originals that were found among the weeds years ago (you actually couldn’t see the greenhouse until we cut the weeds down they were that tall!). We have planted broccoli, garlic, leeks, tomatoes, and Welsh onions. We also started mounding the soil up around the potatoes to promote the growth of new tubers, although the hummocks and troughs formed by the lines of potato plants do give the impression that a group of bunnies decided to engage in trench warfare and attack the greenhouse.

unnamed We also removed several of the beds nearest the stone perimeter wall, which receive very little sunlight and yield virtually no crops each year, the soil from these beds was transferred to areas like the potato bed, and the boards around the edge of each dismantled bed were incorporated into our three shiny new compost bins. We have the capacity to create three more compost bays in the near future, which is handy as roughly half of the site is still under about four feet of weeds (more in many places) and the National Trust has asked us to clear it to make room for the tree nursery. We have made a start on the clearance process, recovering a table and the foundations for two cold frames, including one we didn’t realise existed!

Here ends my round-up of my internship so far, if any of this sounded like something you would like to find out more about please let us know at info@wildelements.org.uk. I will be leading a work group at the Secret Garden every Thursday until the School Holidays start, I will be there from 9am until 5pm so fell free to commit either a whole day or a half day at either one or all of the sessions. Special mention must be made for Fabiano and Gianmarco, two students on a Forest For Life placement from Italy, without whom none of the aforementioned gardening would have happened with the speed and efficiency that it did. They are both fantastic gardeners and Wild Elements wish them well with their future careers back in Italy.

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