Friday, 4 February 2011

How long is a piece of string....

or....multigenerational learning and fun with a bit of twist!

Take a 2.5 kg ball of sisal and some balls of string and a bit of polyprop rope long is that string exactly?

Here are a few ideas.

I could..
Add a few twigs, learn some tripod lashing and snake lashing and make a bijou little salad table for camp fire lunch. That way the snow on the ground can't freeze the little raddichio in the bowl!

I could extend my fine motor skills by twisting the string to get a really good "thwang" for my bow and arrow. I could do exactly the same tight twist with a friend to make a fairly good woodland violin or bass guitar... I won't show you the missed target, and there's no need to comment on the February headgear!

And even in the depths of winter, I can feel beautiful knowing the string is tying my woodland crown together, secures my knife and holds my beautiful wooden pendant I whittled with a vegetable peeler. This is no ordinary fashion show.... this is a forest school fashion show!

Sisal in particular is wonderful for "holding" things in place. This gives endless opportunities for developing fine motor skills in undertaking the necessary "untwist" and "twist"... so we can create beautiful tree weavings, hanging decorations and den walls.
A woodland wall hanging of favourite pieces collected in an observation game

Teachers - proud of their well constructed den, make one wall of woven string filled with bracken

I often use sisal, string and blue polyprop rope to create opportunities for exercise. With so many schools struggling to provide the necessary hours of PE suggested by government, Forest School gives so many ways to jump, climb, run, bend, twist, giving wonderful hidden ways of improving cardiovascular health, muscle tone, physical co-ordination.... and sometimes a little bit of healthy competition! I use the blue rope to distinguish those structures and knots that need to be risk assessed and checked before each session - partly because they are load bearing: children swing on them, walk on them, jump on them. - and not always children!

String and rope as a fitness regime... go check:

Grandma on the rope swing!

Our woodland Basket Ball net!
For our basket ball we use leaves/ferns bound together with string.

Our woodland fitness course includes bars to climb over, wobbly bridges and a rope walk - The children time themselves either individually or in teams - they problem solve by working out the fastest way of getting everyone over the course in the quickest time.. and factoring in who will help who, when an obstacle is proving tough for someone. In an open, honest shared environment, children share their weak spots with others, identifying areas where they need help and acknowledging that help in achieving a team goal. This is a real life lesson - when children learn its ok and valuable to ask for help from their peers.

But do you know something.......
A piece of string lasts for ever when you use your imagination:

Its the sail of a viking longboat..........

And of course, you need string for the fairies to climb up the ladder to their fairy house - wood is far to hard for fairy feet!

Here the string provides the strength for the picture frame that shows the face of the big green lizard
( Lizard approaching from the right of the frame - see it?)

The lady of Shallott.....
There she weaves by night and day
A magic web with colours gay.
She has heard a whisper say,
A curse is on her if she stay
To look down to Camelot.

At Schola Foris and Wacky Woods, we call sisal, magic string... because we can do so much with it!

A 2.5 kg ball of sisal costs about £9.00 in the UK..........that one piece of string is more than long enough to start many, many children on a wonderful voyage of self discovery......for me, that's magic string!

Go on....stick a ball of string in your pocket and go play!


  1. Ah, string is magic!! This is a lovely blog post. Remind me to show you a string magic trick next time I see you, "take one perfectly ordinary piece of magic string...."