Hello and thanks for reading the first blog our of winter session! Both our programs-- Nature Explorers for K-4, and Nature School for 3-5's--have kicked off, thankfully with a fresh snowfall to start things off!
At Nature School this week, the children would have been content to stay on Canyon School's front field and roll giant snowballs the whole morning. Instead, we gobbled our snack and headed to the forest to explore the fresh snow there. The 200 metre walk across the field is sometimes a long haul for the new 3 year olds. They put in so much effort, wearing those special magic packs that help build strong muscles. We hold hands and sing and look at animal tracks along the way, and I know that by spring those same 3 year olds will be galloping and running to the gate with their longer legs newfound confidence!
The wolf cubs hauled our sleds to the Tipi, and after morning circle we were busy, busy, busy--building castles, digging tunnels, sliding, making snow popsicles, following Gruffalo tracks (and some real animal tracks too!). We re-discovered our sit spots, enjoying the quiet of the forest, and 'stretched' our owl ears to hear all of the sounds around us.
On Friday, we looked as a group at some pictures of traditional Ktuxana tipis, to appreciate how people from Creston once lived in them as shelters. The children were quite interested to see a picture of a whole village of tipis. Then, a short and sweet story/legend about 'how owl got his big eye,' even practicing making big silly owl eyes ourselves, and making owl hoots. A few kids helped create big star out of sticks, which we tied up with yarn, decorated with sprigs of cedar and hung on the fence. So, so happy to be back in the forest with the kids connecting with nature and each other.
At Nature Explorers this week, with our K-4's, we visited our much-talked about and anticipated winter site, an area of Community Forest land in Canyon. It was a winter wonderland of fresh snow, and kids were sliding and romping before we even started our hike to basecamp. What should we call this place, we wondered? The children are thinking of names for this place that will come to be special to us....Everyone in this group has a unique animal name (squirrel, elk, owl, raccoon....) that we call each other by, and the children really come to identify with their names, considering which traits of the animals are similar to their own personalities, and learning about them over the session. Some days you might find 'Hawk' building herself a nest, or 'Fox' sneaking up on someone. We challenged the kids this week to learn--'What is life like for your animal in the winter?' The kids will research at home and informally share with the group about their findings...
We played a game that involved being very quiet and sneaking up on a blindfolded 'fire tender' guarding a pile of sticks, and spent some time preparing our site: tromping down snow for a fire area, laying and lighting the fire, hauling logs for sitting on...The kids were so very eager to help!!
And then, play in the forest....running, climbing on upturned tree roots, making up games, creating a melty snowman...
We enjoyed hearing Byrd Baylor's book, 'The Other Way to Listen,' at snack time, having some wonderful conversation about special spots where you can sit and be still, tuning into all of the small and wonderful lessons nature can teach you..