We return to Arley Arboretum   Leave a comment

Arley Arboretum is one of our favourite places – and because we have season tickets is actually part of our outside environment – much in the same way as an off site Forest School is to other settings.

Last year though we did not make full use of our season tickets, due to the weather, children not being well, and other planned outings on the days that the weather was kind. So together with the winter months when the arboretum is closed it seems like a very long time since we were able to visit.

 

Indeed for the last few weeks since the arboretum opened, my colleague and friend Carol and I, have been saying we must arrange to go back to the arboretum – and on the  15th May – we did return.

On our arrival, we had to pay for our season ticket – a very reasonable £20 for an adult and £8 for those children over 3, free for the younger children. We were greeted warmly by the lady in the ticket office and we chatted about this and that while filling in the season ticket forms – I felt more like a friend than a visitor.

What neither of us had really considered was the fact that the children in our care yesterday were not familiar with the arboretum – and out of the 6 children with us – only one had been before. This meant we had to consider the visit through new eyes – those of the children who had not been before – and be aware that all of it was a new experience – with a surprise round every corner and through every door or gate along the path.

We started with the fountain area – Carol and I noted that a lot of work had been done in this area over winter – with the paving slabs levelled, new turf in places and more benches for sitting and watching the fountains. One of children with me, was not too sure about this new experience so we did not linger for to long before moving on through the gate into what we call the chicken area.

Indeed the chickens were still there, we looked at them, chatted about them and some of the children choose to count them. But then we noticed that there were some new grass mazes in this area for the children to explore and try to get to the centre of  – so they did – and although I have some lovely photo’s of the children doing this – you – the reader – will just have to make do with this section of a photo – without the children.

 

Cropped grass maze

We also spotted that the willow arches had grown and there was a new house / tent shaped one – which of course the children want to explore – and the adults were unable to;because as the children correctly said – we are too big.

Continuing our walk and exploring we  spotted some huge poppies and stopped to admire them, before going through the green door.

We used directions – left, right, straight ahead – and stop; to help ensure the children in front not only knew where we were heading but also were kept safe.

As we walked the children were busy ‘finding’ things, daisies, pine cones, big trees and information signs. There was a very big tree and we discussed which was the biggest – the children, the tree or the adults – lots of mathematical language used.

We then ‘found’ a bench – of course Carol and I knew it was there and had sat there before – but the children did not know this. Carol produced from her bag some ‘nature spotter’ sheets, and some coloured pencils. The children chose if they wanted to take part or not – they all did apart from the two babies. The children spotted the items and then made marks on their spotter sheets to show they had found that item , two of them also added their mark to the place for their name – saying ‘I am writing my name’ The 4 year old with me, said what letters she was writing and did a really good job of forming the letters of her name. The 3 yr old with Carol – was very engaged with this activity and continued it even when we said it was time to find the picnic place – when she spotted things, she stopped to mark her spotter sheet.

Between us we found lots of things; spiders webs, ants, blossom on bushes (and we smelt it to see if it was a nice smell or not – mixed opinion about this) ants crawling on the floor, a buzzy bee, blossom on the floor (which some of the children – and Carol – threw in the air) big trees, hairy trees, rough trees, bumpy trees (talking about the bark of course) the laburnum arch covered with flowers (and extended from last year) plus carpets of bluebells and big thistle type flowers, we found feathers, more daisies, bits of bark, big pine cones and sticks.

And then we ‘found’ the perfect picnic place – not the one where we had picnicked often last year and the year before – but another place where we had rolled down the hill before – but where a picnic bench had been added – making it the perfect picnic place.

So picnic rugs on the floor and we all had lunch – and we all watched the trains from Severn Valley Railway go past.

 

WP_000317

 

After our picnic, and nappy changes for the little ones, we headed back towards the car, and before we left we had a chat to the Head Gardener who also greeted us as ‘old friends’ – and asked us if we had spotted the new adventure playground – we hadn’t, as we had not got that far round – well said the Head Gardener – ‘It is lovely, all wooden and just right for your bigger children (meaning the 3 and 4 year olds) and it opens at Spring Bank Holiday’

 

We were of course thinking of going back – hence the season tickets — but now we have even more reason to do so

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