A momentous occasion--our first Valentine's Day at Nature School! Thank you to Coen's family for making everyone a birdseed ornament, which fit perfectly in with the theme of birds that seems to be emerging. These kids love listening for birds, talking about them, making bird sounds, reading books about birds, watching the sky, and making bird feeders at home! This is how emergent learning happens--the children notice what's happening around them, get excited, curious and start asking questions and more questions. As spring nears, we'll have so many more opportunities to witness bird-life in our forest!
We had a special treat this week, when CLES's Kindergarten-Gr.1 class came down to the forest. These 'youngest' elementary kids sured looked a lot bigger than our Pre-K kids! Our gang was tasked with hiding 100 small animal shapes along the trail, each with a number. So we spread out and had a great time getting things ready for the big kids. There sure was a flurry of activity as both groups fanned out to find the numbers. Back at the Tipi, the task was to match up the animals to a number chart. Thanks for letting us participate!
More emergent learning opportunities. Some of our bigger Nature School kids have been mapping, lately, and here the theme continues... one map included waterfalls and a complicated route to follow through the forest. Zav and I have done some professional development around the concept of map-making with children, and as the weather warms up we'll explore further how to expand on the concept in a 'developmentally congruent' way. Young children start close to home with their map-making, as they explore their sense of place and perspective...As they get older, children can begin to understand concepts about country and world. For now, at Nature School, map-making is imaginative and silly, just the way we like it!
The children are starting to notice letters in the forest, more often. Sometimes during their sit-spot time, sometimes as we are playing and walking around. Zoe found an 'H'!
Campfire politics: ever walked through a spot on a forest floor with 4 imaginary campfires burning at the same time? Try not to step on one or build yours outside the 'boundary.' Warm your hands up at one, roast a marshmallow at another...find a stick to become a giant torch to light them up. Phew, I'm warm just thinking about it!
I didn't catch the whole episode here, but I believe the log was first a bus and then a horse, with Mary Jean being the 'tail.' It started off small, with more and more kids joining. This log is definitely a favourite play spot!
Here are a few great family nature connection ideas (from the TenderTracks blog). It's amazing how talking about/feeling/noticing the weather can inspire children to spend more time outside, and how they can really, really become good observers at an early age!