Who are the VYFWBP?

We are a friendly community group, run by parents, who meet every Thursday morning in West Bank Park, York. Whatever the weather, school hols included, we spend a couple of hours in the woods and meadows of the Park, doing nature games and crafts, building or making things with materials we find, telling stories and singing songs.

We are open to all - with a contribution of £1 a family (to cover basic equipment) - so if you want to join us, see you on Thursday at 10am at the statue of Queen Victoria, at the top of the Rose Walk. (Bring something simple to share at snack time.)

For more information contact Elly at: westbankparkkids@gmail.com

Friday, 14 June 2013

Fire, earth, water and...weather!

Well the blog's been quiet but we haven't.  All winter long (and it was another long and cold one) we have continued to meet every week and it never ceases to amaze me how many families turn up even in the grimmest weather.  And of course it's rarely as grim as you think it's going to be when you look out the window before setting out.  I think we've only been actually rained on once or twice all year so far.

One of the reasons I have become a lot less faithful with the blog is that we have been going for SIX YEARS now and many of our activities repeat, in a rather nice way, from one year to the next.  Every June we see the elderflowers coming and get ready to make elderflower lemonade - every winter we spend a couple of sessions racing around gathering 'nest' materials to keep warm - every April we gather cherry blossom to make potions...

But the children grow and change, their parents too, new ones come along, and our routine changes to suit them.  This gang at the moment, for example, just love climbing up and down the roots of the story trees.  So we tend to go there almost every week, and whatever other activity we're ostensibly doing, a lot of the old climbing goes on.  They also love stories.  A regular cast of puppet characters has evolved, led by the ever-faithful Mummy Mouse, and the story is very rarely missed out.  The children who come at present are mostly aged 1 or 2, so as they grow up towards the lofty age of 3, we may take on a bigger range of activities.

The park is changing too.  There's less funding about to look after it, so the wildlife area is looking pretty rough and the pond was in danger of becoming a swamp last autumn.  We participated in a reed-removing morning - seven or eight of us getting knee-deep in pond water to clear it out.  And thank goodness we did, as it's been a bumper frog year and we have paid the growing tadpoles many visits.  It'll need doing again this autumn, and maybe we'll need to get more involved in litter-picking, planting and so on, to keep it the beautiful place we love. 

We carry on doing very simple activities that get the children involved with the elements.  Lots of water (doing the 'laundry' in the woods, making 'perfumes' and 'soups'), earth (digging for creepy-crawlies, running down slopes and getting mouthfuls of the stuff).  And now also FIRE!  Yes, after many years of shying away from actually making real fires in the woods, we have acquired a FIRE BOWL - a wonderful thing that lets us have a very confined small fire, with no risk of burning down the woods!  We've made popcorn and hot drinks and I am already looking forward to elderflower pancakes!

Let us share our 'fire song' with you - subtly constructed to persuade the children to sit back and not come too close to the fire bowl.  Sing to the tune of 'Miss Polly had a Dolly':

We're making a fire and it's hot, hot, hot,
The sparks will dance around a lot, lot, lot,
So we'll sit back together in a ring, ring, ring,
And watch all the flames dance and sing, sing, sing.

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Our beloved Queen Victoria

Our beloved Queen Victoria
We sometimes bow to her before we set off into the woods!