This week I noticed lots of kids laying on their backs on the forest floor (trying out new perspectives, maybe?). I love that the leafy layer is so inviting to the senses at this time of year, all of the rich smells, sticks closer at hand, crunchy sounds...It seems like the fir trees are extra-alive too, these days, as we can sure notice the wonderful fir smell of pitch seeping out of the bark.
As usual, there was lots of complicated rope play (and politics/ethics around how ropes should be strung up along/across a busy section of our pathway). There was a 'hunting' expedition deep in the forest, children were digging for sleeping worms and lots of creative and collaborative play around the climbing tree. We enjoyed two stories at snack time around the fire, just for the heck of it! Now that the tree branches are exposed, we can really watch our resident squirrels as they hop around in the trees!
The favourite 'look out' tree for this young wolf cub! He practically runs there each day when it's time to play...
On Friday Nature School moved indoors, to the kindergarten classroom for the morning. Never fear, Nature was still the focus, as we engaged with Danica from WildSafe BC. Our morning was chock full of giant animal track replicas, animal hides, antlers and even a few game camera-type videos of different local animals like bear and deers.
We learned about good practices for ‘keeping the wildlife wild,’ like keeping garbage tucked away at home and not intentionally feeding wildlife. We also did some role playing about what we could do if we actually encountered a bear or an aggressive deer or moose, like putting our hands up to make ourselves look big, talking loudly, and walking away backwards. Never run from a wild animal!
The Nature School kids conducted themselves extremely well over the somewhat long hour, listening, sitting respectfully and eagerly answering questions. Good job, wolf cubs! Thanks to the kindergarten class for welcoming us in, sharing your toys, and learning with us : )
This past week I've come across some great resources which I thought I'd share in this week's blog. The first is from the award-winning UK-based Little Forest Folk program. I'm feeling inspired to share their article on how 'Play IS Learning,' a great reminder that children have important work to do (especially in the early years) and that play is the vehicle for their learning:
"We’ve decided to address this question of ‘doing’ learning. In our opinion, learning isn’t something you ‘do’. It’s something that happens constantly for children, especially in the early years. A popular misconception is that children need to be sitting down, participating in an adult-directed focus activity to be learning. We believe this couldn’t be further from the truth."
The second resource is a book I'm highly enjoying by Scott Sampson (Dinosaur Train, anyone, anyone?). I'll admit I went into this read thinking that I've probably 'heard it all' before, but this is a really informative, interesting book full of research and great ideas. Ideas about how to be a nature mentor to your children, the importance of stories, play, unstructured time in the outdoors, as well as great information about how nature connection can shift as children get older. I'd highly recommend!
I'll leave you with a few pictures from our last week of Nature School--our first shared snow experience of the year! There was great excitement in the air as the first flakes fell, tongues out catch flakes and even snow angels on the field. As leaders we had to swing into gear (literally!) changing a few pairs of boots, digging out extra socks and firing up the fire. It always seems like the first snowy days (however exciting) require a kind of acclimatization to the colder temperatures, mentally as well as physically. Looking forward to many fun snowy days with this gang!
It seems there is always something exciting happening at Nature School, and this week it was the official opening of our nature collection! We started to bring items for our nature collection housed in brightly painted apple boxes in the gazebo. What a joy to see the children bring their bones, berries, feathers and other special items!!
Here are Kristina’s notes from Wednesday:
Here are Zav’s notes from Friday:
Thanks to all the parents for making sure that their little wolf cubs are well dressed for the weather! There’s no such thing as bad weather, as long as you’re dressed for it.