Learning in the Roundhouse at St Cuthberts

I was delighted to be asked by St Cuthbert’s RC Primary School in North Shields to come and work with two groups of children in their outside space. St Cuthbert’s have built a round house in their school grounds along with a dedicated campfire area. How could I resist?

I worked with two groups of children, from years 2 and 4. I wanted to use the outdoor space to increase confidence,  social skills,  dexterity and engagement in children who struggle to engage in class.

Over five weeks we made marble runs on a pile of soil left over from building the roundhouse, we painetd autumn flags, we made clay pots and got the Muddy Fingers potters to glaze and fire them, we made bird feeders, we ground flour from wheat, built dens and many more activities. We blew giant bubbles thanks to a great recipe from Philip Noble for the perfect bubble miture. It was a truly magical session for the children.

I’m not sure who enjoyed themselves the most when we played conkers; Mr Dillion, the headteacher, or the children. I think my favourite activity was making apple crumble in a dutch oven. We divided the children in to two teams, team apple and team crumble. Team apple had to peel and cut up the apples and team crumble prepared mixed the flour, butter and sugar to make the crumble. I had built up the fire to make sure we had lots of hot coals for cooking the crumble. We put the dutch oven on it’s tripod over part of the fire. and covered the lid with coals too. After about 40 mins the crumble was cooked and we ate it hungrily around the camp fire.

Each session ended with stories and songs around the campfire followed by a reflection on the day.

One aspect that I particularly enjoyed about this project is that the parents were encouraged to come along at the end of the day to see what the children had been doing and to have a go themselves. The parents really enjoyed getting their hands stuck in, particularly when we made the clay pots.

Working with St Cuthbert’s was a real inspiration for me as the staff their are so enthusiastic and so dedicated to providing the best experience for the children at the school.


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