In the Woods

The Secret Gardener’s Story 2022 

This story is a collation of all the incredible play the children at the Secret Garden have been engaging in over the past year. Weaving in moments of nature connection, numeracy, literacy and our Spiral curriculum, all of the ideas are the children’s own, all of the quotations are theirs too.  

A great many thanks to the children for the endless inspiration, and to the staff team for their wonderful observations.  

Merry Christmas to all and a Happy New Year. 

Mazz Brown December 2022.  

Once upon a time, some children went to play in the woods.  

On the way they noticed some icy puddles, which some of them wanted to break, but others said the ghosts could catch them if they did that.  

They visited the lambs. They patted one that had only been born that morning, helped to feed another one, and helped to bed the sheep with new straw. And they sat in the tractor! 

When they arrived, the children were busy. Some of them made a fire, collecting wood, sorting the sticks and even making a fire safety circle.  

One was riding on her unicorn and a couple more were talking about a birthday party. “We’re going to play pass the parcel’, ‘and I am going to be 4.’ 

‘You’ll need 15 layers for that and I am 4 and ¾.’ 

From the woods, they could see smoke coming out of the new yurt chimney for the first time.  

They made shapes behind the tarp as the sun was shining on it. They acted out animals, while the others guessed what they were.  

Two children made a stick bus with log seats. The rest enjoyed rides in their bus-it had a round steering wheel made out of branches. 

At lunchtime, there were six strawberry cakes. And for the bad guys, hazelnut soup (it’s poisonous!) Some crumbs were fed to the birds, and the children discovered rhyming words. Tickle and pickle, bear and pear – please and cheese – cat, mat, hat. 

Someone said: ‘If you eat your crusts you’ll get hair on your hands!’ 

Then kittens and dogs were jumping into the swimming pool. 

‘We’re swimming in a sea of leaves!’ one child said. 

A pack of puppies were being walked on their leads. A sloth hung from a tree and a beautiful mural appeared on the woodshed. 

Two ladybirds sunbathed on a twig, and when the sun went in, the ladybirds crawled under the bark.  

There were snowdrops to count, and snow, and snowmen. A den that needed moss putting inside, with a door and a booby trap. And a trip to the zoo to feed pandas, penguins and elephants. 

Someone spent a long time watching a queen bumble bee crawling slowly up a tree…someone else watched a pheasant in the field. 

Once upon another time, the children noticed tulips on the walk up. What colour would they be when they opened?  

Bamboo was needed (for koalas) and plants from different parts of the woods. Curled fern fronds were found, they looked like mini broccoli! Someone drew a big spiral in the leaves, then made wings to turn it into a bee. 

Two children planted seeds they found, discussing how they would need water, sunshine and special wishes to make them grow. 

 ‘I wish, I wish, I wish my plant will grow,’ they said. 

Two others led a yoga class. Workers rebuilt the den, and one made soup for them to have afterwards. It needed more water-it was a bit too thick! 

Then came the new soft beech leaves…two children collected nectar to make green honey.  

The speedboat needed to be fixed to get to Edinburgh zoo. Some other children went to a funfair through a magic gate on a motorcycle, and others on a minibeast adventure…a couple more had toast and butter on the train to Dundee. 

Two children sorted grass. Which was the longest, shortest, medium size? Someone else used sticks to check and compare the height of her baby reindeers. Another found a V-shaped stick. 

‘It could be a triangle or bunny ears,’ they thought. 

‘Or antlers,’ said another.  

‘Or legs for Stickman,’ someone else suggested.  

Others threaded found items onto a woollen ‘loom’ between the trees. 

‘This tree is so tall, taller than me, taller than all of us, taller than the Eiffel tower in Paris,’ somebody said. 

The children saw 11 bees fly out of a hole in the ground, and made a protective area around it to warn others. 

There was a big adventure to Monimail, where there was a stream with green water snakes, and they made garlic soup.  

Someone said: 

‘It was the best day ever.’ 

Once upon another time, there was a Tree Blood Farm, with bark to pick off a fallen tree.  

Some children made a cosy safe nest for a robin, and there were baby wolves, pirates with leaves for treasure, and a pen built for some guinea fowl. 

‘They have wings but can’t fly,’ someone explained. 

Pizza was made and there were races, with children running around the outside of the quarry, and saying ‘well done!’ to each other.  

One child found a tickly ladybird, who opened its wings and flew onto his hand. Another child found a moth, and gently took it on a leaf, telling his friends,  

‘Shh…’ as he showed them. 

Some children decided it was time to rebuild the den again, while others were chatting about the crocodiles in the swamp. Another, while strimming, discovered lots of ripe brambles. 

There was a 5th birthday party with lots of cakes. But then one million Gruffalos tried to crash the party & were scared off with sticks!  

Once upon another time, the children heard a loud noise just as they arrived. Perhaps a deer? Where was it? Where was it coming from? 

There was a new ice cream shop, singing, and musical instruments being played. Some children collected water in the tarp to make potions, some others learnt to count in Dutch. 

One child was galloping along on their uncontrollable horse with cannon booster power. Spaceships were built, and there was ballroom dancing… 

A hairdressing salon, with haircuts, colouring, washing, conditioner and a mega dryer opened.  There was also a Bake Off competition, with some of the children making cakes, and one of them the judge. 

One afternoon, there was a lovely visit from the moth man. He came to show the children different moths he had caught. One of the children also found a moth, she was very gentle moving it. When it flew away another child said, 

‘It’s going back to nature.’ 

The children were invited to collect cooking apples from an apple tree, and they enjoyed freshly picked pears given to them by a kind neighbour in the village. 

One child opened a sweet shop. She had lots of customers! 

The children saw that the leaves were changing colour on the cherry tree, from red to yellow and brown. They saw the geese flying overhead.  

‘It’s like a bow and arrow.’ 

‘It’s like a smiley face.’ 

‘It’s like a Pterodactyl,’ they said.  

The children cooked fish biscuits and blueberry-flavoured sausages, and someone found the smallest baby ladybird ever. Some children went on a trip on the aeroplane but it needed some repairs before it could take off. 

Almost everyone made conker people. Pumpkin soup was made on the fire, and a couple of children visited a funfair and went on a rollercoaster which got out of control…they had to be rescued!  

Others went on a boat ride, and another group worked in a chocolate factory, making treats for all.  There were also autumn raspberries…and lemon balm… 

Once upon another time, the children saw the trees looked bare ‘without their leaves.’  

They watched the wind blow leaves off trees, they listened to the sound of wind, comparing it to the sea. One said, 

‘The wind is tickling me.’ 

Some children weaved willow shapes from broken willow they had found on the ground, wrapping string round to hold them. Others were farmers, ploughing the land.  

Some made Christmas decorations using yarn over a cut out cardboard Christmas tree, and Christmas cards which they delivered, singing. 

‘It’s an adventuring kind of day,’ one child said. 

The snow returned. Snowballs were thrown and some children made a ramp to sledge off a straw bale. They sledged in the field. They even sledged their way home. 

Somebody said: 

‘Giddy up Rudolph!’ 

(Not) The End…