Another week in autumn bliss at Nature School. The kids have some favourite activities, such as “pulley” contraptions in the trees. Simple machines—an enduring theme. Someone had the good idea to tie a stick to one end of a rope, and bucket to the other end; stick then gets thrown over a high branch. Sometimes things get loaded into the buckets (mores sticks, leaves, dirt, worms), sometimes they are lowered and raised empty. What is it about this activity that makes the kids keep returning to it over and over? Making something happen, controlling an ‘invention,’ raising and lowering… it seems they could happily do this for hours.
This week, some loose parts appeared in a milk crate (brown, shiny, round horse chestnuts! ) which became a favourite to raise and lower in the pulley buckets. But some of the kids had other ideas and were off, shovels in hand, to plant a new chestnut forest. Yet other kids were “feeding” the chestnuts to the baby bear in the den.
We also created a ‘swing’ this week; a stick-bar to hold onto, and rope attached on each end strung over a branch above. Just hold on, lift your feet and away you go (try not to hit the nearby tree!). The kids decided that everyone gets exactly one swing, and then—switch! The group participation, cooperative play and uproarious laughter were all magical.
Kids were climbing the ‘leaning’ tree, practicing those challenging spots again and again and again. Deeper in the forest a group of explorers re-discovered the ‘bouncing tree,’ a big leaning bough that would magically lower (ahem—adults involved here!) to let a wolf cub on the ‘elevator,’ and then the kids would bounce away. A great forest playground feature!
On Friday some of the big CLES kids and our Nature School kids worked together to paint apple crates—destined to become beautiful nature collection boxes for the gazebo. If you want to talk with your wolf cub about contributing some special items for our collection, it could be an opportunity for learning to share something precious with others, or just a wonderful excuse for some time in nature with your child searching out nature treasures.
On Friday we 'discovered' an apple tree near the Tipi that we'd never noticed before. And miracle of miracles, we could reach the apples! (if you've followed previous sagas you'd remember that we have another perplexing apple tree nearby, with VERY high up apples). This was a beautiful site, witnessing the kids climbing an 'easy' tree, ecstatic to pick their own apples!
Everyone is finding their happy place (pace?) at Nature School. The newer kids are definitely getting their ‘bush legs’ under them, learning to navigate stepping up and over tangly brush and logs. This can be frustrating when you are only three years old and vertically challenged, and yet with a little patience and very slow going, kids slowly gain their confidence. As an adult I have the benefit of foresight—fast forward to the spring, and I know without a doubt that these same kids will be bounding like deer around the forest. We are sure enjoying our time and already hear the kids talking excitedly about “when the snow arrives!” But for now, this crispy sunny weather is just perfect.
Until next week...!