Who can resist this smiling gang? In a heartbeat they bounce between being firefighters, leaf monsters or chefs extraordinaire. Orange soup, snowman soup, anyone? This week we tried out some shared storytelling in the Tipi, passing a story from person to person and seeing where our imaginations could take us. This is a great activity for developing listening and respect and for children to express their unique ideas (even when it involved unicorns and wild tangents!).
Running between the fire and the fire station, returning for supper and restocking on water to put out the fires.
Rearranging forest furniture to build the fire station!
This week we embarked on a mini-treasure hunt in the forest...Wow, were the kids excited! They followed clues like, 'find the spot where two trails meet,' 'find the leaning climbing tree,' and 'the bench on the hill,' and 'the secret hideout meeting spot.' The children are starting to identify 'places' in their forest and to really feel at home!
Roasting snowball-marshmallows over fires! 8 children were playing here at the secret-hideout meeting place, in such wonderful collaboration.
I discovered this week that one of my favourite parts about Nature School is playing hide and seek. Not for the usual reasons though...inevitably, when a child says, 'Teacher, come hide behind this log with me,' we find ourselves crouching down and close-up to bright green moss, lichen, bug-beetle patterns on a log, deer poop or some other forest wonder. In the brief time it takes to hide and be found, there is beautiful opportunity to be still, to notice nature (very) close up, and to have a whispered conversation about our discoveries. This is emergent learning! It's fun, it's unexpected, it's real and arises in the moment from curiosity and questions.
One of several terrible monsters roaming the forest on Thursday...
As the tree monster game evolved, several children started to ask Zav if she could hold their sticks, to 'keep them safe.' Instead of agreeing to hold a whole bunch of big branches, Zav announced she would plant a sticks upright in the snow. Well, how does a garden grow? In the snow, of course! The branches became cherry, apple, and pear trees, with everyone suddenly wanting to plant one. Pears appeared, miracle of miracles, and were shared around!
Thank you to our special volunteer-guest Vicky, for helping out on Friday! Most of the children know Vicky from the Family Place, and were so excited to show her around the forest and introduce her to Nature School.
I'm glad Conch was there to capture this great video of some forest playground-equipment in use.
As my son and I were setting up for Nature School the other day, alone at the Tipi, we arrived to find a woodpecker working away. My son urged me to stop moving the sled around, to be quiet so we could watch and not scare it away. I confess I wasn't feeling really patient because our time is limited, before the other kids arrive, but I was touched that my son insisted on the quiet moment to watch the bird, and was proud and awed that he is developing this care and atunement with nature. If your child attends Nature School, he/she is becoming accustomed to sitting quietly and observing, noticing, feeling, relaxing. You can ask them about their sit spot time, and find opportunities for noticing nature together as you're out and about...I'll leave you with a few inspiring words from Rachel Carson:
If you are a parent who feels he has little nature lore at his disposal there is still much you can do for your child. With him, wherever you are and whatever your resources, you can still look up at the sky--its dawn and twilight beauties, its moving clouds, its stars by night. You can listen to the wind,whether it blows with majestic voice through a forest or sings a many-voiced chorus around the eaves of your house or the corners of your apartment building, and in the listening, you gain a magical release for your thoughts. You can still feel the rain on your face and think of its long journey...from sea to earth to air...And with your child, you can ponder the mystery of a growing seed, even if it be only one planted in a pot of earth in the kitchen window (A Sense of Wonder, page 57).