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  • Max

Wonderful Woodland

The children at Beetle’s Nature School are planting saplings around the forest school’s land. “OK, a bit further forward, that’s good,” directs Becky as Alex wheels the wheelbarrow, holding the birch sapling, nearer the hole next to the mud kitchen’s log boundary. “OK,” Becky says, “stop”. Alex puts down the wheelbarrow and helps Becky, Tamir and Hattie lift the tree into the hole. Alex wheels away the wheelbarrow while Flynn, Cam and Tai all put in some soil. Leo walks on it to ‘heel it in’ and the process continues until the hole is filled.

The tree planting continues until the beginnings of a forest are forming. Silver Birch trees stand rigid and tall all around the mud kitchen. Alnus trees enclose two wooden shelters and Firs surround the ponds. “You’ve done a lot, Nature School. Well done!” says Rick. All of the children run off and play.

At the next session, everyone arrives to find that the saplings have grown into a mature forest! Animal and insect life is thriving, just like a mature forest, too! Bugs scuttle along the uneven ground and birds sing from their treetop nests. Giant tree roots stick out of the ground and the pond has become a clearing full of fish and water plants. “Who has the magic wand?” asks Alex.

“Not me,” replies Leo.

No one has a magic wand. Something has happened here. We need to investigate,” Becky says as she studies some spider silk tangled with carrots. “Spider silk and carrots. That’s not right,” notes Hattie, “look there. Whoever brought the spider and its web here likes carrots”. “That makes sense,” says Alex, “there are more carrots leading over there. Come on!” Alex runs along the trail of carrots. Everyone follows him.

The trail ends at a rabbit warren. A rabbit pops out with a carrot in its mouth. It runs to the nearest carrot, puts the one in its mouth down and eats the carrot. “Well, that’s nothing strange,” sighs Alex. Then Cam spots glitter on the ground. “Look! There’s glitter on the ground!” he points out. Everyone gathers around the glitter. They see more glitter flutter to the ground. It is falling off something. Cam goes down to the shelters at the bottom of the forest school, where none of the leaders are. Everyone follows him. They watch the trees and the shelters. The faces that the children have painted onto the beams of the shelters are holding out against the elements, and the old campfire circle still sits in between the two shelters, its stones mucky and half-buried by new bark chippings on the ground.

As the children sit quietly, waiting, a sudden glimpse of a shimmering creature dashes through the trees and disappears. “We have a mystery creature,” whispers Becky. “Yeah,” agrees Cam. The creature pushes out of the greenery and zaps some saplings into fully grown trees with birds nesting in them. Hattie spots a glowing horn on the creature’s head. “I just saw a single horn,” gasps Hattie. “There’s a unicorn making the saplings a mature forest!” grins Becky. Everyone bursts into excitement! “A unicorn!” “It’s real!” “Woohoo!”

Everyone celebrates by making a den, and the unicorn comes out of the bushes and celebrates with them! It shoots fireworks from its horn and gracefully trots into a shelter. “It’s wonderful,” whispers Becky. “Yeah,” agrees Cam. They watch the unicorn as it flies away in a puff of sparkling gold glitter.

By Max

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