Activities days are all about trying new things and challenging yourself to do just a little bit more, and today was certainly a day of challenges. As one of the boys from Laxfield said, “You can’t be brave if you’re not scared.” And today, we have had lots of very brave children.
Scroll through the photos below and you will see Charles overcoming his nerves and climbing to the top of the high wires, then balancing precariously on the top of the wobbly ‘Leap of Faith’ pole. It is no mean feat – up there the ground seems very far away, the wind whistles past your ears, your heart pounds in your chest and your legs feel like jelly. Why we put children through this terrifying ordeal is a bit of a mystery really, but, my goodness they made us feel proud for doing so, and hopefully learnt a small lesson about what they are capable of along the way. Grace, Alyssa, Megan and Jessica (who discovered her inner-guinea-pig the moment she left the ground and squealed her way through all of the challenges) were amongst those who managed the Leap of Faith despite feeling terrified beforehand. Well done them. Others don’t make it to the top of the pole, but nonetheless are able to push themselves to the limit of their comfort zone: step forward Lewis who balanced his way to the very top of the wobbly pole before dangling his way to the bottom. Others still seem to have no fear at all as they climb the ropes: it seems as if Billy, Dylan and Sam were born to it – they’re obviously able to channel their inner apes! However they managed it, we are proud of them all.
This morning, Miss Hunt’s group with Lydia and Rosanna, and Miss Cragoe’s group, with Evie, Kira and Zoe each built a raft. Both teachers were tremendously impressed with their groups’ teamwork and all the children enjoyed the races. Well done Evie, Kira and Zoe who won the dash around the island in the middle and back again. Incredibly, neither team’s boat sank, so neither of them got wet – but, of course, they all celebrated by jumping in.
Evie’s name was also mentioned this afternoon as someone who is fearless – she had been weaselling and attempted every challenge. The bruises on her knees and shins are testament to the amount of crawling and squeezing she had done.
This morning Jessica, Isaac, Jacob and Megan went down Bagshawe Cavern for some squishing and squeezing of their own. I was so impressed with Isaac and Jessica who were not keen, but who battled their nerves and went through every tiny hole and tunnel. Amazing. Whilst down there, we all turned out our lights for about ten minutes and sat in total darkness – an eerie experience. We also took the opportunity to conduct the polo experiment. Did you know that when you snap a polo in two, it emits a tiny flash of light? We do, because with our eyes adjusted to the pitch black, we saw the mini blue flash.
This evening has been the room inspections, and Fressingfield won both the boys and girls prizes for the tidiest rooms – top bananas! Then, the highlight of the whole week –Hollowford’s Got Talent. We had a rich and varied line up this year, with singing, comedy, land-swimming, gymnastics, karate and dance. Well done Megan who came second with her friend Charlie with a lovely gymnastics routine, and well done all who competed including Jacob, Lydia, Rosanna, Kira and Jessica.
It has been a fantastic week, and the activities are just one part of the greater challenge – that of coming so far away from home for so long. We have had quite a few homesick children this week who have battled on and enjoyed themselves despite missing home. This has got much easier as the week has gone on of course, but we are all now looking forward to our own beds, lots of cuddles with mums and dads and a relaxing weekend. I hope when they reflect on their week they will feel proud of all their achievements. Mrs Stansfeld and I certainly are.
We have been really lucky with the weather, which seems to be changing – the forecast for wet weather today and storms tomorrow seems to have changed, so today we needed hats and suncream for our walks around Castleton and up Mam Tor.
This morning was spent pottering around the beautiful village of Castleton. We first made our way to the entrance to Peak Cavern to have a look at one of the country’s biggest cave entrances and learnt that it used to be a rope-making factory. Then we walked to Peveril Castle to spend an hour exploring the ruins and admiring the view. The entrance to the castle is spectacular – the path winds up a very steep hill and is an exhausting climb. Once at the top, we took in the keep, the scenery on all sides and relaxed in the sunshine. Those with cameras took photos of the views, and we tried to spot the other pupils who were climbing Mam Tor in the morning. Isaac, Rosanna, Jessica, Evie and Billy enjoyed rolling down the slopes inside the bailey before we set off once again for the most important stop of the week – the souvenir and sweet shops.
I am always impressed by how many gifts can be bought for £10 and I have seen that there are precious stones, magnets, special pencils, fridge magnets and more that will be finding their way back to homes in Suffolk very shortly. Best of all though is the old-fashioned sweet shop, where 100g of bon-bons, rhubarb and custards, liquorice allsorts and other treats can be bought in stripy paper bags. Lovely.
After lunch, we set out on our own epic journey up Mam Tor with our guide, Frag. He was a fount of knowledge about the geology and history of the area and soon all the children were finding and identifying limestone, sandstone and shale. Rosanna found a beautiful piece of quartz too; and some found tiny pieces of coal that must have been dropped by travellers long ago. He was very good at bringing the landscape and scenery to life. We learnt that the path we were taking had been used for thousands of years because it led from the shelter of Peak Cavern, to the hill enclosure on Mam Tor. We had a lovely time: Billy, closely followed by Sam, led us both up and down; Isaac and Jacob acted as ornithologists, pointing out buzzards and other birds of prey; Jessica and Rosanna spotted a heron standing in a stream before it flew away; Zoe found a dung beetle that she stroked before it scuttled off; Megan was in charge of good manners and wished all the other walkers a cheery, “Good afternoon!” as we passed them by; Evie was photographer-in-chief, capturing the landscape in all its glory; Dylan, Grace, Alyssa, Lydia, Lewis and Kira kept me company chatting about everything and anything; and Charles kept on walking determinedly despite a little blister on each heel.
It was very blowy at the top, so we took the opportunity to have a little dance in the breeze before Frag taught us about the burial chamber and fortifications. We took more photos, pulled some funny faces and took even more, then headed back down at record speed, arriving exhausted at the centre just in time for tea.
This evening has been quiz night. Well done to Billy and Dylan, Sam and Jacob whose teams both finished in first place.
Tomorrow it’s back to the activities – caving, high-ropes, weaselling and raft-building, then the (in)famous Hollowford’s Got Talent. Then there’s only one more sleep before we come home – doesn’t it go quickly?
What a busy day! We have been squeezed, squashed, launched, dangled, soaked and many other verbs besides! Today was our first full day of activities and, following a hearty breakfast, we met the instructors who will work with us while here at the centre.
This morning, Jacob and Isaac, Megan and Jessica designed and built the good ship HMS Floatie using six planks, four barrels and some rope. And while their boat actually did float, it wasn’t long before the entire crew had abandoned ship by leaping into the murky depths below. What followed was twenty minutes of splashing and screaming as the children tried to regain their places, throw others off and generally soak as many people as possible – including me!
Meanwhile, Alyssa, Grace, Billy and Sam in one group and Kira, Zoe and Evie in another group were launching a new Hollowford underground fashion that includes trousers muddy up to the knee – for Grace – and up to the thighs for everyone else, brown socks that harden to a solid lump when dry and hair matted with cave mud. They had ventured into Bagshaw Cavern and waded through puddles and sumps until they were in the heart of the mountain, where they all sat down and turned out their lights! Scary! Billy and Sam, needless to say, were happy to take on the extra-specially squeezy challenges!
At the same time, Rosanna and Lydia, Dylan, Charles and Lewis were exploring the craggy rocks of Higger Tor. They were weaselling, which involves clambering over the bigger slabs of rock, then squeezing themselves through short sequences of tiny holes. It pays to be small for these challenges, so Charles stepped forward as a pioneer explorer.
In the afternoon, Lewis, Dylan and Charles built their own raft – called, “You can do it if you B&Q it!” and – as with everyone else – their favourite part wasn’t the paddling but the jumping in at the end. This evening they have also enjoyed a mega game of football with friends from their club.
For Jacob, Isaac, Megan and Jessica it was weaselling time – but at Burbage Edge for us. I was so impressed with our Fantastic Fressingfield Four, for, having wedged themselves tightly into a very tricky spot, they all extricated themselves, overcame their nerves, took a few big gulps of air then carried on with all the rest of the challenges. Our leader, John, told us that we hadn’t had a good day if we hadn’t got a few scrapes and bruises, so by that measure (and by the children’s smiles), we certainly had a good afternoon.
Lydia, Rosanna, Evie, Zoe and Kira spent the afternoon on the high ropes, eventually completing the reopened Leap of Faith. It seems that these girls are fearless as they all made it to the top, and they all took the leap; this involves climbing up to the top of a telegraph pole, balancing at the top (and dancing if your are Zoe), then leaping off to try and catch a trapeze bar swinging just out of reach. Well done Evie and Lydia who managed to catch it!
This evening we’ve had a long play outside, half of a quiz and the eagerly awaited room inspections. I’m afraid the results are rather a mixed bag here, but well done Isaac, Billy, Sam and Jacob who won the prize for the best room on the boys’ corridor. Not bad!
Tomorrow we’ll visit Castleton in the morning and spend our pocket money, then we’ll walk up Mam Tor in the afternoon.
It’s interesting that the journey to Hollowford always seems to pass more slowly than the journey home – possibly because we are all awake for the whole time, whereas on the way home most children sleep for part of the way. Still, we passed the time with Top Trumps, boxes, hang-man and consequences. I love the moment when, “Are we nearly there yet?” and, “How much longer?” turns into gasps as the scenery changes into the Derbyshire hills, and the hedges are replaced by stone walls and the children start showing us that they speak fluent sheep… “Baaaah!”
The first task, once we have unloaded the bags, is to make our beds by using the inside-out duvet cover trick. It looks easy when the centre-leader demonstrates, but takes some mastery and there are always one or two children (Isaac!) who seem happy to settle for their duvet being balled into a lump in the middle of their cover.
Anyway, all the beds having been nicely made, we ate then set out for a walk to Odin’s Mine. This is a beautiful romp across the fields, over brooks and stone walls and up the hill towards the foot of Mam Tor where there is an old lead mine. We saw tiny new-born calves – and it turned out that many of the children were fluent in cow too – especially Kira.
We chatted about caves and mines, and relived parts of the Sherwood Hoodies. We stopped to watch two cows butting each other, then made our way back to the centre, nicely worn out and ready for bed.
So, now the children are tucked up in bed with their cuddlies in their hands and – hopefully – already dreaming about what they will be doing tomorrow. They are certainly nice and quiet
We had a little bit of drizzle this evening, so let’s hope the weather holds out for the week.
Tuesday 26th February 2019
There were horned helmets, plaited hair, axes and thick fur coats on display on Tuesday as the children celebrated Viking Day across Key Stage 2 (ages 7-11) and took part in a series of hands-on workshops linked to our topic.
There were six workshops in total: longships, runes, jewellery, bread-making, felting and music.
The music workshop was run by Joe Carr, the curator and education director of the Red House in Aldeburgh. The children first explored some genuine historical artefacts, such as a 1000 year old comb, before playing traditional instruments. They created their own music using percussion, panpipe and a lyre – instruments the Vikings would have used themselves.
The longship workshop was an exercise in teamwork and perseverance that resulted in three marvellous models that now decorate the atrium. Each is complete with oars, a sail, Viking shields along both sides and, of course, a dragon on each prow.
In the runes workshop the children learnt about the futhark – the Norse alphabet, then created their own tablets with their own names written using runes.
The Vikings in the jewellery workshop created some beautiful brooches, and pairs of brooches linked with beads that they used to adorn their cloaks and proudly wore for the rest of the day, showing just how wealthy and prestigious they were compared to lesser Vikings!
The bread-making Vikings, led by Mrs Tooley, cooked traditional flat breads using oats rather than wheat flour. The porridge-like flavour of the bread was improved with the addition of lashings of honey and dried fruit pushed into the top of each loaf. We learned that loaves like these would have been carried by Vikings on their incredible exploratory trips across the oceans.
Mrs Stansfeld and Mrs Waring led the felting workshops. The children, starting with the basic raw material of unspun wool, first learnt to card it, then layer it and then bind it using a secret Viking combination of ingredients and techniques. The resulting felt was used to make money pouches or wrist warmers that real Vikings would have been more than familiar with.
Children always learn best when they are completely immersed in what they are doing, so dressing up, while also being great fun, is a fantastic learning experience. This became particularly apparent at the end of the day during the assembly to share all of our achievements with the school; representatives from each group were able to talk eloquently and at length about what they had learned during each workshop –such as that Viking runes were discovered by the god Odin as he hung on Yggdrasil – the world tree – for nine days.
So we offer huge thanks to all the teachers and support staff who prepared these workshops for us – and in particular to Mr Carr – and say a big well done to the children for all that they achieved.
7th November 2018
The children of Year 6 were able to contribute to the Village Plan today, when Mr Deeks – who is both the Chair of the Governing Body and the Chair of the Parish Council – came in to canvas their opinions.
The children were asked what they liked about the village as it currently is, and also to project forward 20 years to describe the kind of village they would like to live in when they are adults. We thought you would be interested to read about what they said.
Listed are some of the things they like about our village:
- it is friendly,
- it is peaceful,
- the children like their neighbours,
- the countryside,
- it’s small,
- the fields are great for walking dogs,
- the church,
- the tennis courts and playing fields,
- the school,
- the woods and
- it’s not too busy.
The children had lots of ideas about what they would like to change in the village, and improvements they would like to see. They included:
- a better play park,
- more shops,
- cheap houses so families can live where they want and feel comfortable,
- a cricket pitch,
- more trees,
- a bigger doctors and a dentist,
- riding classes,
- more buses,
- more jobs,
- swimming pool and gym,
- a skate park,
- a café,
- a football team,
- a wind generator,
- a youth club in the evenings, so people have something to do,
- better internet,
- a library,
- less traffic,
- the Norwich bus to come more often, and
- hover cars!
They summarised their ideas in the following ways:
“I hope Fressingfield will have more wildlife and be quiet. I also hope it will have a wildlife centre and a library.”
“I hope Fressingfield should still have woods and empty space for people to meet, but there should be cheaper housing, a wildlife centre, a care home, a police office and a bigger school.”
“I hope Fressingfield will be a happy, cheerful, friendly place.”
“I hope Fressingfield has more things like houses. I think there should be more ships and a better play park and playingfield.”
“I hope Fressingfield stays calm and quiet but grows. I also hope Fressingfield’s nature stays as it is because without it Fressingfield wouldn’t be peaceful.”
“I hope Fressingfield doesn’t get taken over by technology and I hope it doesn’t have any crime and stays a nice quiet countryside village.”
“I hope Fressingfield will still be peaceful, but have a few more townbased features like a public pool.”