Autumn Wires featuring Berries

12 October 2013 · 7 comments

in Nature Play & Learning, Science Outdoors

Autumn is really here. The conkers have been gathered. The leaves made into art work. The rosehips turned into syrup.  And now the berries have been threaded onto wire.

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This was all a bit of an investigation which was prompted by an activity I ran in one of the Wee Green Spaces twilight training sessions for early years practitioners. We were looking at different ways of learning about local plants. As part of this the participants were threading leaves, seeds and berries onto anodised wire.

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 This wire is very soft and pliable. When you cut the end, it becomes sharp enough to poke through a lot of different plant material. I have also done this activity with wooden kebabs but prefer the flexibility of the wire.

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At this time of year, the plants are dying so I feel it is an appropriate time to do these gathering activities. Children and adults both find the task quite calming. What is interesting is how one’s senses become alive whilst doing this too. For instance, when the wire breaks through some plant material, such as the pine buds, a wonderful smell is released. The texture of the plants makes a difference as to how easy or hard it is for the material to be threaded onto the wire.

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Once everyone has completed the task, the wires can be hung up somewhere as a temporary display. I attached my wire very easily to my stick just by wrapping it round.

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The following day I decided to experiment with berries. My back garden is bursting with all sorts of berries, most of which arrived by chance in my garden, probably via a bird or two over the last few years. I had some deliberations about doing this. By myself, taking 20 berries from the hundreds to be found in my garden is neither here nor there. A class of thirty children may well provide serious competition to the birds who really need the berries as a food source. So do bear this in mind, if you decide to go berry collecting with your class. Take a sustainable approach to the gathering of berries.

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With the berries, it is surprising just how different every berry is. I’ve got two types of rosehip, honeysuckle, some non-native berry plant and a rowan tree which contributed to the necklace. I tried the hawthorn berries but they were having none of it. All refused to be threaded on. The honeysuckle berries were very soft and sticky.

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The teacher-within-me just had to see what letters could be created from the wire berries.

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I was quite tempted to hang the wire berries up inside, to watch them dry and see what happened. However, I decided to put it discretely up in the rowan tree. I’m curious to see if the birds will take them or leave them alone.  What do you reckon?

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Finally, if you are concerned about the idea of children picking berries, then have a look at this blog post about berries and fungi and the one about potentially harmful plants in schools.

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{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Coombe Mill - Fiona October 12, 2013 at 15:47

Another creative activity which is a great sensory experience for children. I can see this being very popular with children and a fun way to make some lovely autumnal garden art. Thanks for linking up and sharing your inspirations with Country Kids.

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Juliet Robertson October 17, 2013 at 16:12

Fiona – you are welcome. The ideas from other blogs make it a good linkup and you are very consistent over your approach and management of it.

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Kriss MacDonald October 13, 2013 at 03:04

Wonderful idea stringing all the Autumnal finds on a wire – I can see my children going wild about it.
#countrykids

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Juliet Robertson October 17, 2013 at 16:13

Thanks Kriss 🙂

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Claudia November 18, 2013 at 13:30

I want to make these with my class…… did the birds eat them? Would be lovely if we could use them while leaving them for birds etc. to eat. Thanks for the idea

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Juliet Robertson November 18, 2013 at 14:38

Hi Claudia

The birds left the ones on the wire alone. So they have shrivelled up. I suspect that they would smell or taste the anodised wire and choose less-tampered-with versions!

Thanks for your comment.

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