Sometimes themes emerge at Nature School, and we just go with it. Some of the children have been pretend 'directing movies,' gathering friends to fill the roles of princesses or monsters, assembling an audience. Sometimes the show unfolds, and sometimes, 'It's cancelled. Come back next Tuesday!' And we all run down the trail, finding something else to explore or climb or inspect.
Last week we introduced some beautiful, brand new animal masks (thank you Lauriane for your mad sewing skills!) and the children became wild foxes, wolves, hedgehogs, bees, lady bugs and more.
Introducing curtains for performance...
Inspecting a fir tree for the blisters that contain sticky sap....We poked a few to smell the wonderful smell, and tried a mini-experiment (to drop a stick with sap on its end into a bucket of water, with the idea that it'll be propelled around the water. More experiments to come!)
1, 2, 3, ready or not, here I come!
The kids found 'Canada leaves,' as they called them, and did you know the leaves even 'smell like syrup? Everyone smell them!' There was great excitement about the Canada leaves. I really enjoyed watching this unfold, knowing they were on the right track to identifying the tree and even making associations about where maple syrup comes from (of course, the sugar maples aren't here!). This was a foray into a 'new' part of the forest this group hadn't explored yet. So, much opportunity for adventure and getting to know new climbing logs and fallen treasures.
Earlier in the day we'd gone on a hunt to find our 'lost' missing stuffed owl, Ollie. In the morning we usually take Ollie out of our bin for morning circle, and Oh No, he was missing today! Thankfully, he'd left us a note with some clues to help find him (I'd scattered feathers along the trail with the hopes that the kids could follow them). We did eventually find Ollie, even though some of the Big School Kids had picked him up and moved him.
In other unphotographed moments, an umbrella store was created, a former fort was turned into a kitten-raft, and burdock leaves became meals at a restaurant. Children are coming out of their springs shells, so to speak, bursting with energy.
The days have been full of giggles, squeals of laughter and all kinds of imagination.
The older Nature Explorers took a field trip to the Kootenay River last week, to help with the release of the sturgeon. Thanks to the organizers for including our group and sharing all kinds of neat facts about these super interesting fish.
One of my favourite times of year at Canyon School is when the grass hasn't been cut for a few days, and the dandelions are everywhere. 'Weeds,' maybe, but also colourful, beautiful, important for the pollinators and ripe for collecting and playing creatively with. We tried a craft this week called 'Hapazome,' (aka hammering plants into cloth to transfer the dye). The kids created some sweet hanging decorations to take home!
This week jackets were off, sun hats were on, and we revelled in the just-right-warmth. We laid on our backs and looked at the clouds and watched a woodpecker. The kids tried out our new binoculars. They are a pretty cool kind of children's binocular that 'auto focus' so there's no need for fiddling with a focus dial. You can check them out here. I would recommend!
There were games of hide and seek, which, if you've ever played hide and seek with 3 year olds, you know it's guaranteed to be hilarious and very cute.
The bucket-pulley activity continues to dominate play time. Incredible cooperation and now we have to walk down the trail as if through a minefield, around ropes and buckets going up and down. Sometimes the kids just sit calmly and hold their buckets up in the air for a while (an interesting way to relax and contemplate life?)
Just holding buckets in the air!
Kid conference. I love when this happens, and you can just keep an eye out on the children but leave them to their own hilarious conversation, invention, imagination. I think they were roasting marshmallows. It was the end of the day and every cluster of kids was giggling and being very silly.
At snack time there is always a chant of 'story, story, story!' and this week we added in the animal guessing game--a challenge of these youngsters to a) not reveal the name of the animal on their card b) think about the answers to the questions posed (i.e.: is your animal and land or water animal? and c) to actually pose questions for their friends to consider. It's a longish game when 9 kids each choose an animal, much patience required, and when the energy is right everyone loves it!
On Friday we embarked on a treasure hunt of sorts, to notice small, beautiful things that caught our eyes. Some of the children kept the same things for the whole walk, and some changed their items up many times. Everyone felt very proud of their collections!
Just lounging in the trees...
This week our older Nature Explorers embarked on a 'small square study,' picking a very small patch of ground to fence off. They turned into great observers, writing down or drawing everything they could find in their plots. Oregon grape, deer scat, feathers, tiny tree sprouts, bits of fir needles...We plan to keep tabs on our plots to notice what kind of changes take place. The big kids also practiced with flint and steel, worked on their shelters and tried out a 'nature scategories' group game. See you next week!