We don't take many group photos, but snapped this one up to send off with one of our excellent volunteers who is taking a break for a while. Mary Jean has been with us since the very beginning, and we have been so, so fortunate to have her on board!! I'm starting to appreciate these very 'alive' group and dynamic photos, where no one really sits still for a moment.
Yesterday and today 40 adults (teachers and educators of all varieties) gathered outside the tipi (we sure don't fit inside!) to talk about kids and play. We are grateful to have Chris Filler as an instructor, all the way from Saanich, on behalf of the Child and Nature Alliance of Canada and Forest School Canada. We are talking about, how can we let kids be kids? Quite often 'risky play' has benefits, as well, like when a child scrambles a little way into a tree, feels stuck, but manages to find her way down with just a bit of guidance. Oh, the opportunity! For building resilience, for problem solving, for feeling scared and overcoming...The chance to feel proud, to build muscle memory...We are learning how to support and encourage healthy kinds of risk taking, while mitigating hazards and involving the kids in discussions along the way. More on this in the weeks to come as we reflect on our learning.
Creating a send-off card for Mary Jean...
This was a moment captured during a complex game of 'we'll hide and sit here quietly while Markus sets a 'trap,' and then we'll run through it like banshees and go hide again.' I loved observing the patience--from the two kids sitting quietly (for around 5 minutes, sometimes), watching and waiting for the trap-setting to finish. The trap-setter worked diligently on his own, building a pile of sticks to perfection....when he was ready, he'd call out and the 'hiders' would emerge from their lair...
Kid conference. Not sure exactly what's going on here besides a lot of giggling!
Metal detecting for gold (pirate treasure, specifically). These two came and went from this activity for quite a while, special for me to watch because I hadn't really seen them play together in such an involved way, before. There were beeps from the 'metal detector' and lots of digging and excited noises when treasure was discovered.
This could just be a bump on a log. For real though, I was led on a hike by Pippa, who wanted to show me how this bug was guarding it's house. Nearby she pretended a couple of snowberries were it's eggs, and described to me a very elaborate story about what was happening....all influenced by a book we're read that morning about ants and their eggs.
Hunting for bugs. We did A LOT of this this week, the wet forest totally ALIVE with worms, snails, centipedes and ants. We found ant eggs, special because of the book we read on Thursday morning.
Someone actually screamed in elation beside me, 'I FOUND A WORM!!!' leaving my ears ringing for a while. There was a worm named Joey who got lost (and, we think, adopted by another kid). The enthusiasm was contagious this week. I witnessed one child holding a dangling worm, trying to show it excitedly to another child while that child held up his 'pirate map' on a piece of bark, and tried to show it to the other kid at the same time. I had three kids all trying to show me things at the same time, and a big huge smile on my face!
Jospeh Cornell, a famous nature educator, talks about 'awakening enthusiasm' at the first stage of flow learning in nature, leading to focused attention...It's all unfolding as he predicted...
We also made a discovery this week that under our forest floor is clay....lots of it, and perfect for digging and squishing. I'm pretty sure this is only the beginning of a clay extravaganza.
Bye for now!