In this project, with children from year 5 and year 6 we started by measuring out the circle for the dome, and parallel lines for the tunnel. We measured the spacings for the willow holes accurately and worked out how many willow withies we would need of each colour variety. We divided jobs between making the holes with stakes and mallets, and planting and digging in.
We worked in small groups of 8 to dig and plant the willow supports, bent them over and tied them in: carefully working out the height and devising ways of making sure it was level.
We used ash poles to provide the main structure…If we had 6 poles within the circle where should they need to be placed if they are to be spaced evenly? The children learned to tie knots and to do lashings in order to stop the support structure from springing open.
We adapted the design to incorporate a few windows of different shapes, to let the sun in, to spy on others. We decided to make the windows at different heights so even the small children could see out of them, and so we wove window frames.
Schola Foris provided seating logs and woodchips for the interior.
We incorporated a variety of coloured willow so that the tunnel would have a different appearance to the main dome. Years 5 and 6 will have a perfect living outdoor chill out area/ classroom, that they built themselves.
Our structure was tested to the hilt over the next week, with very high winds but the children’s work was more than match. New shoots appeared quite quickly and they children will continue to photograph the growth throughout the seasons, cutting back when necessary according to the “after-care” programme we gave them.
And nursery benefited from the left overs – with a wig-wam den in white, yellow and purple willow!