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