The October Half Term has seen our Wild Days Out have a very Autumnal theme, as we headed onto the reserve to enjoy the seasonal changes, discover how nature responds to the cooler weather and spot fungi.
We began by challenging the older children to a game of human knot, with a mycelium twist, demonstrating the outward growth from a spore once it has germinated underground and begins to send out branches, or hypha. As the hyphae repeatedly branch out underground, they assume a larger circular form which is noticeable when the fruiting bodies, or fungi, appear above ground as a fairy ring.
They had to stand in a small circle and reach their right arm in to the centre, taking hold of someone else’s hand but making sure it was not that of the person right next to them. They then had to put their left arm in, taking someone else’s hand, before working together to untangle the human knot without letting go, ending up in a larger circle, or fairy ring.
After an entertaining attempt at the human knot, we explored the woodland along the Dockens Water in search of colourful Autumn leaves, seeds and fungi, with the most exciting find being these Dead Man’s Fingers fungus, Xylaria polymorpha:
Whilst many leaves are falling and the Autumn colours are coming through, the beech trees were still very green and leafy, casting a dappled shade in the woodland:
After a squirrel nut hunt (there were some very sneaky squirrels!) and a hedgehog hibernation challenge we finished by collecting some firewood and team laying a fire before cooking some toffee apples :
With the younger children we headed straight to our camp fire area, making leaf crowns and collecting Autumnal leaves on the way which we were going to preserve with a wax coating and turn into Autumn mobiles. After getting the fire going and snapping lots of candles, removing the wick, we watched the candles melt before very carefully dunking our collected leaves into the wax.
It was a lot of fun and gave stunning results!
They too baked toffee apples, carefully whittling sticks to bake them on first:
After embarking on a squirrel nut hunt we finished with a game of apple bobbing which was enjoyed by all, some got wetter than others!