Hello! There were so many pictures from this week of the children in their colourful coats, that I've put them into a slideshow. We've continued to learn about worms, making a 'worm hotel' in a jar so we can watch the tunnelling and decomposition. The kids are really excited to share all of their knowledge about the role of worms in the soil. One nature-schooler educated me about the difference between earthworms and nightcrawlers.
Lots of singing this week! Thanks to Sally for the excellent Strong Start resource package with songs, jokes and activities related to Ktuxana culture/language. 'Did you ever see a grizzly bear, grizzly bear? Did you ever see a grizzly bear, catching a fish? Did you ever see a squirrel, a squirrel, a squirrel ? Did you ever see a squirrel, gathering nuts?'
We read books about a 'Golden Apple,' birdwatching, and another book took us on a bear hunt--what a fun and silly reading experience that was!
We have been finding bouncy logs in the forest, collecting treasures in baskets and climbing on our 'leaning tree.' The new students are getting used to our way of supporting tree climbing (not boosting/helping up), rather helping the younger ones to find lower down places that they are capable of climbing while bigger kids make their way up higher, independently. One Nature Schooler who has been with us for almost 2 years now finally made it to the top of the leaning tree--and wow, was she ever proud! One of my favourite things about being a nature school leader (there are many!) is watching the kids grow over time, how suddenly their bodies can do different things, climbing higher, jumping further, running faster than they could weeks/months/years ago. Certain things are possible in the forest when a child is 3, and different opportunities arise when a child is 4, 5...Ever changing kids, ever changing forest classroom-playground!
The children collaborated in the mud kitchen on Friday, cooking up a storm...there were water muffins, chocolate everything, fish...There were bigger kids helping younger ones find ways to all work together...
The children were baby chickadees up in a tree, and asked me to be a big eagle swooping in to look for their eggs...
One child became a bear, and needed a fishing rod to catch fish for her dinner. This evolved into a whole lesson-chalk-drawing activity about the salmon cycle for her...
Out on the trails for an 'adventure walk,' another child drew a 'map' and helped make sure we were going the right direction. Together we added N/S/E/W to her map, and she was an excellent navigator because we didn't get lost.
At Nature Explorers this past week, the bigger kids were dissecting owl pellets. They were encouraged to wonder, wonder, wonder--ask questions, be curious and make guesses about what kind of small animals their owl had gobbled up. The kids were excited to find tiny skulls, teeth, ribs, leg bones....
The kids continue to create. whole variety of different shelters, each improving on the one they started a few weeks ago. We read a book that encouraged us to keep wondering some more, and some of the kids shared stories of courage and survival that had happened to their friends and family.
See you next week!
Hello! Our second week of Nature School was comprised of only one 'school' day, and so we made the most of it. The children were feeling more adventuresome and so we ventured further afield, using our 'moose legs' to climb up and over logs and brush. With a slow pace a little patience, 3 year olds can hike too! We started out out morning with a 'mystery box' full of nature surprises (fluffy cattail, crinkly leaves, scratchy birchbark, soft catkins, spiky pinecones). The kids each reached in with their eyes closed and gave us a few words to describe the textures they felt.
The children must have been squirrel or woodpecker-watching, taking a break from play to check out the local creatures.
This Nature Schooler hunted and hunted for worms...we turned over logs, dug holes and just could not find one!
The forest was our playground as the children tried out bouncy boughs. Often when a 'good one' is discovered, a line up will form as everyone wants to try it out. Great opportunity for turn-taking and exercising patience.
Collecting nature treasures in baskets...
Trying out different places to climb! There are many sideways leaning trees in our forest, perfect for getting started in the world of tree climbing...
This week our older Nature Explorers were fortunate to have a visit from Heidi, a Huscroft silviculturist. The students had the opportunity to plant their very own fir trees, and learned a lot about different types of soil, ecosystem requirements and witnessed some interesting soil tests--that involved squishing, squeezing and even tasting the soil. Thanks for visiting, Heidi!
See you next week!
Hello! There has been great anticipation about the spring session of Nature School, with 11 keen children, new families and an excited team of mentors who have been getting ready! Some of the children know about Nature School from their older siblings, or friends, and for some it is their first regular program away from home. Amazingly, we only had a few tears on the first day and the kids have been keen to carry their own packs, dig out their lunches, and explore the forest.
We started out our week with a group trip to see the 'forest potty,' and quickly moved onto play, exploring, drawing pictures, and having exciting conversations about all manner of things: What are these fuzzy caterpillar-like things on the ground? (aspen catkins!) Let's collect some for our buckets! Why are these snail shells broken, and is anything alive inside? What happens to snails when their shells break? What does camouflage mean and what kind of animals use camouflage?
There was fun with magnifying glasses, hiking the trails, experiments with jumping off of logs and climbing low trees, and logs were turned over to find the first worms and spiders. We enjoyed two books about spring and seeds, learning about how animals often poop out seeds, which helps spread them around (to great giggles!)
On Friday, Melissa and I introduced a nest building activity, by talking as a group about what kind of things birds like to use for their nests (and listening to a particularly excited bird outside the Tipi, at the same time). We started out by mixing up some mud, and using grass, sticks and mud to form our nests. After the kids got the hang of it, they were off to the races, forming their eggs out of clay. A few children moved their nests to the ground, and were mother birds for the rest of the day protecting their precious eggs.
Mother birds protecting their eggs.
Story time! Also a time of learning to be independent and responsible, with opening lunch kits, eating snack and tea and packing away again at the end. Definitely a learning process!
Routine is an important part of the Nature School. When it's time to play, it's child-led, and our routine helps the group to bond and learn social skills together (sitting in a circle, taking turns to share about the day, respecting the candle, singing together).
Getting our bush legs comfortable with climbing over logs, on the much loved 'leaning tree.'
Expressing curiosity, asking questions and wondering about those funny fuzzy worm-like aspen catkins all over the ground!
Children LOVE drawing in the forest!
Waiting to head home, and a little eye spy! It's a really special time, introducing these very young nature-schoolers to the forest, to their community of friends and mentors and knowing that over the next few months their legs will sprout and they will grow and develop into confident explorers, inquirers and imaginative beings. Thank you to all of the families who have been so supportive and eager to pack their kids up for mornings of play in the forest!