Sometimes, on a beautiful day (or a wet/cold/rainy one) we're just too busy with the wolf cubs to take pictures. This one captured a hunt for the elusive apples--way, way up the tree and practically impossible to get! I don't like to say many things are impossible, but we have tried to shake, shimmy, sing, whack and beg these apples down, to no avail.
There are a great many burdock plants in the forest, and it's one local plant the kids can easily learn to identify. I think I saw Zavallennahh picking burrs out of someone's hair, this week, and somehow a game started of 'making the biggest burr ball.' I love talking with the kids about the cleverness of plants, and how these seeds like to hitch rides to new places on unsuspecting shoulders and pant legs.
On Friday morning, Creston woke up to a heavy downpour, and I wondered what kind of adventures our Nature School morning would bring. Thankfully, the rain was pretty much finished by the time we go there, but we decided to throw up a tarp just in case we needed some shelter. The kids were really keen to help tie knots and hang out underneath, and it was a fun challenge as a teacher trying to figure out how a slew of 4 year olds could help. When they come to you with a rope in hand and say 'what's my job?' you find them a loop to tie to, pretty quickly!
It's a bit hard to tell in this second picture, taken at the end of the same day, but there are three different bucket-pulley systems hanging around the tarp that the kids rigged up. It was a busy dance, avoiding ropes and buckets going up and down. They were proud of their work and buckets and pulleys is always a very collaborative, problem-solving filled activity.
Take care till next week!
The Nature School Team
We've had two days back in the forest, dodged torrential downpours and hailstorms, and I'm already feeling a buzz of excitement. These kids are keen nature nuts. So many questions and observations, readiness to 'go exploring' down the trail. New friends being made, and old ones reconnecting. We've played 'eagle's nest' hide-and-seek, read stories, looked at our field guides, shared tea and listened to a story about the 'legend of the mice and the Douglas Fir tree.' Several kids spent their free time the first week collecting snowberries, teaching the new kids not to eat them, and showing them how to pop them (satisfying under your boots!)
Some of the boys started a game of running down the hill in funny ways, taking turns going sideways, or backwards, or as fast as they could. I love watching kids make up their own rules and games and collaborating.
We started a weather journal, noticing what was happening with the sky (literally looking up into the tree canopy to watch the clouds), discussing the rain we've had, how the earth felt under us (wet, slippery) and how the air felt on our cheeks. I'm so excited to pursue this further, as it's a wonderful chance for inquiry, observation, group sharing, questions and so much more! Someone volunteered to draw a picture of. the weather.
Several kids played in what they call 'the pit' near the Tipi, just a hollow depression that's a bit tricky to walk down into. I observed that they were 'very brave' to walk in there, and one new fellow looked up at me thoughtfully: 'Hey, I guess I am a pretty brave guy, aren't I!" I love when kids display such confidence.
A small group of kids helped create these nature patterns. It was a fun chance to use the real names of some plants not in 'lesson format' (Oregon grape leaf, now aster, now fir cone...' I made one quietly without saying anything and some of the kids joined in. The one on the right was their idea.
Much wondering about the tracks on these trees, under the bark, and no conclusive answers reached yet. Worm? Beetle? Once the first one was noticed, kids were pointing out the patterns on trees all over the place.
Early literacy in action--it's alive and well in our forest! (Kids love clipboards). This girl (twice) wanted to write down some of our Nature School rules so no one would forget. She traced over my letters for the first rule and asked me to write out the rest. 1: Don't get lost 2: No hurting people 3. Walk with sticks 4: Climb with adults. During this drawing/writing episode, a lady bug larvae flew in to land on someone's clipboard. Some of the kids were afraid at first, until I explained what it was, and then they enjoyed watching it crawl around on the paper. Gotta love open air classrooms!!
Towards the end of the week, the kids were milling a bit aimlessly around in one one those moments that sometimes makes me feel squirrely (like, do something, teacher!). We watched the kids for a bit, me wondering if it was time to pack up and change course. Just in that moment, someone came up with the idea to build a bird's nest out of sticks, and that led to a whole interesting play episode about birds, with a nest being made, 'forest string' being brought over to tie branches together, a pile of snowberries for bird food, and 'forest cheese,' for bird snack! The kids had all kinds of ideas about what kind of materials birds might need for a nest, and how they might weave things together or add mud to make it hard and tight. Beautiful emergent learning moment.
Much joy in watching the two old friends in the back reconnect. The wolf cubs love helping to pull the wagon.
We are so happy to be back in action, sharing pictures and stories from our week. There are a few spaces available, if you have a 3-5 year old who might like to join in. Don't forget that Canyon-Lister School is having a Corn Roast potluck event on Wednesday, Sept 19, 6:00 pm, and we'll be there with a fun forest scavenger hunt (and a chance to win some neat things by participating!)
Bye for now,
The Nature School Team
It’s almost time to welcome in September and a new year of learning, adventuring, children going back to school and post-summer routines. How has your family spent the summer months? As a family, we’ve been busy renovating, moving and trying to sneak in as many trips to Twin Bays and the Goat River as we can. My 5 year old never seems to notice the smokey skies, especially when there are frogs and minnows to catch! We discovered (new to us) the wonders of Moyie Lake Provincial Park: trails for biking on, meandering creeks to explore (more frogs and minnows) and interesting rocks to collect by canoe.
As a Society, we’ve used this summer to assemble a new board of directors, plan a new program (Nature Explorers for Homeschoolers), apply for grants and ready ourselves for a new year of forest play and learning. I couldn’t be more excited to start a new year of Nature School, getting ready to meet new children and introduce them to the trails, Tipi and forest plants and critters. The apples are ripening, and blue autumn skies are here.
This year, with some our grant funds, we’ll be able to lend rain gear and backpacks to a few Nature School participants who might not have their own (thank you CBT!). We’ll be creating a very special library of nature stories and field guides, acquiring our own fire bowl for the winter, not to mention other exciting things! We have a few new staff who I hope to introduce soon. As always, I feel so appreciate of Creston’s wonderful community, which has been very supportive along the Creston Kids Outside journey.
As always, if you’re curious about any of our programs for 3-5 year olds, or K-4 Homeschoolers, don’t hesitate to get in touch. If you haven't signed up yet, there are still a spaces left in both programs.
P.S. Here are a few pictures of both our families (Zavallennahh's and mine) enjoying the outdoors this summer.