Category Archives: Lessons for KS1

Cyanotype Print Making

Cyanotype printing, also known as sun printing, is a technique which was discovered in 1842 by scientist Sir John Herschel. At the time, it was used primarily to reproduce engineering and architectural drawings. When the botanist Anna Atkins learned of the process, she used it to document plant life from her collection, and is credited with bringing the process to the world of photography.

The process is fairly simple. Chemically treated surfaces like paper and fabric are exposed to sunlight, a chemical reaction takes place, and you’re left with fascinating silhouettes on beautiful blue backgrounds. While this normally requires mixing chemicals, pre-treated papers are available, making it easy and safe to involve children.

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Nest Challenge

nest nest2

Spring is the time for many birds to build a nest, ready for egg laying and bringing up their hatched chicks.

Can you build a nest that could hold a clutch of eggs, and withstand the wind? Look for materials on the woodland floor that you could use – for example dried grasses, twigs, sticks, and lichen. Now find a low fork in a tree and build your nest.

If you want to give yourself an extra challenge, try using just one hand – the bird only has its beak after all! If there are two of you, you could use one hand each and work together.

When you have finished, look for several small stones, cones or other objects that could be your eggs. Place them in your nest to see if it will hold them.

Then, with your eggs still in the nest give the branch a little shake to see if your nest would stand up to the wind!

Natural Weaving

Natural weaving

A useful activity for practising square lashing. For more on square lashing, see this post.

1. Make a small frame by square lashing 4 sticks together, each about 25-30cm long to make a rectangular or square frame.


2. Cut notches along the top and bottom of frame to hold string in place.

3. Thread frame with string.


4. Weave natural materials – grasses, thin flexible twigs, chinks of twisted sheep’s wool through the string. Once it has some substance tie in other natural materials – seeds, cones etc.


5. You can also use it to make natural picture frames in step 1. Each child can then create their own miniature landscape painting by framing mosses on the ground, textured bark, a view of the sky through branches etc.

Wood Cookies or Name Necklaces

6-8cm of drilled wood discs makes good rustic name badges. Children can decorate them with felt tip pens. Older children and teenagers may be able to use pyrography or chisels. This links well with an introduction to tool use and safe handling of tools.


  • A small bow saw (or pre-cut slices of wood)
  • drills
  • wood to rest on
  • string
  • scissors
  • glue

The activity:

1. This is a good introductory activity to make badges to enable the leader to get to know the names of children or later, to make woodland pendants

2. Place a small log of about 6 cm diameter in a frame designed for sawing or a vice and help the child saw off a slice of about 1 cm thickness

3. Place the slice on a rest and help the child drill a hole about 1 cm away from the edge of the wood

4. Cut a piece of string large enough to fit around the child’s head, thread this through the hole and tie. For young children use wool which will break more easily

5. Write the child’s name on it and the child can decorate it by gluing on leaves etc. found in the wood.

Clay Creatures


Fairly large pieces of clay for each child (needs to be fairly easy to knead and mould – play dough or bread dough might be easier for younger children). Bag for each child to collect natural materials. Hand washing facilities!

Time required

1 hour (depending on length of walk) including gathering materials, making model and looking at the finished creatures. Extension activities like Story telling could make this longer.

The activity

Introduce the activity by talking about and searching for the variety of minibeasts found in the woods. It could be linked to teaching about habitats.

Explain that they are going to make models of giant minbeasts. They can choose to make minibeasts like those they have just found – or perhaps to imagining an extinct giant minibeast that might have lived in the woods along time ago. Imagine a minibeast Jurassic Park!

If the children are familiar with their site let them explore it, and gather natural materials that could be used with the clay to make their creature. Give them some examples of the sort of materials that could be useful such as nuts for eyes, moss for hair and encourage them to dig in the leaf litter to find suitable materials.

Encourage them to find a suitable location where they can settle their model as it is made – on a tree branch, in a hollow, on a stone so that the others can find them. Each child can make their own model or they may prefer to work in small groups. They could make different stages in the life cycle of one creature or a whole family of them.

Then walk through the woods together spotting all the strange creatures. Are they camouflaged? Encourage each child to tell something of their creature’s story – its name, where it comes from etc.


They may enjoy making ‘mini-shelters’ for their minibeasts using natural materials found close by. Discuss what minibeasts might need to survive in the woodland, by day and night.

An alternative to making the giant minibeasts is to make goblins using a stick for the body and making the head from clay or dough which is then decorated with natural materials to make features, hair etc. They look very effective hung in the trees.

Simple but striking ‘Tree spirits’ can be made from clay. Mould the clay into a flat face shape in the palm of the hand and gouge out the features with twigs or fingers to make simple faces that can be stuck onto the trees.

Maths with Twigs

Finding sticks to make simple numbers

Create the numbers from 1-9 with sticks.

Is it possible to make number 1 with just 1 stick, number 2 with 2 sticks, number 3 with 3 sticks.

learning about acute and obtuse angles, mark each number with the angles used, red for acute, green for obtuse and blue for right angles.

Journey Sticks

In many countries people have developed the idea of creating a journey stick to help them tell the story of their journey to others. It involves tying objects and colours to a stick that represent different experiences, feelings or parts of the journey.

You will need to bring pieces of different coloured wool or thread with you on your walk.

As you walk look for a short stick.

Then choose pieces of wool to show places, feelings and to attach objects to create your own journey stick.

What colour is the sound of a robin singing?