'A buzzing we will go,
A buzzing we will go,
Search for flowers high and low,
a buzzing we will go...'
This week we enjoyed watching a few of the kids discover a birch log seesaw. Silliness, singing, playfulness and great cooperation followed. It’s exciting seeing the children’s discoveries of these ‘loose parts’ play things, ever changing from day to day...
On Tuesday we dug up some clay to make our very own decorations, small discs with leaves and bits of fir/cedar/leaves embedded. It was a fun learning process for everyone, adults included, to find the very best clay we could, and then patiently add water to get the right consistency, flatten the balls, add something beautiful, then wait to dry and handle them carefully so they wouldn’t break (some did, but that was ok). Sometimes I hold my breath when something a child makes gets broken or ruined (accidentally or purposefully), and was happy about the resilience displayed during the clay making...some who participated had to try and try again to get it all right.
A new factor and learning for the adults, during our first spring at Nature School: overheating from the warmth! We have been so attentive to cold and getting warm, that I (Kristina), at least, seem to have forgotten how uncomfortable I get when I get too warm, trapped in rubbery/rain proof clothing. A good reminder this week to remind the kids to shed layers, once the sun comes out.
This week we took our first field trip, meeting at the Kootenay River for the sturgeon release. We arrived early to play in the sand and climb on upturned tree roots by the bank. Boy, the kids got dirty and sure played hard, almost 3 hours for some of them by the time they left! I chuckled to myself helping a boy at the end, taking off his wet socks and seeing super muddy feet. I admit I put clean socks on overtop of those dirty feet, and wondered if someone at home would chuckle in the same way (or not!)
The kids had their chance to hold the baby fish, checking out their dinosaur-looking features. We learned a few things about them, like just how ancient a species they are, how big the fish can get, and how old! Also how their eggs have a hard time surviving, which is why all these fish are released in the first place. We said well wishes for the fish, hoping they’d survive in the river and have a nice long life...
This week I came across a great article, while doing some research into how nature learning during the preschool ages can help prepare kids for kindergarten. This article jumped out at me because it focuses on how life skills and self-efficacy are fostered in an outdoor setting.
How Learning to Put on Rain Boots Leads to Academic Success
Self-efficicacy, as defined by Wikipedia "is one's belief in one's ability to succeed in specific situations or accomplish a task.” This is something I LOVE about Nature School, where every child can find their own strengths, interests and ‘ways of being’ in the forest. This is evident to me every day, where one child might spend an hour collecting berries and singing to herself, another might draw a treasure map, and another might climb around in a tree. We try to honour each child’s choice for how they choose to spend their time, which is often fluid and changing depending on mood, season, interests... If one child is happily filling a bucket with leaves, I might be close by helping someone who is trying SO hard to get their leg up and over a log. I never get tired of seeing the pride on their faces once a small task is accomplished. And sometimes it’s not so evident, or immediate, in that a child might work at something for weeks, or try something, not succeed, and walk away to do something else. That’s ok too. Learning always spirals around and isn't always a 'light bulb' aha moment.
The article also talks a lot about life skills, which is another element of Nature School that I LOVE. I love that we have the time/space to help kids help themselves, whether pulling on a mitt, emptying dirt out of a boot, or working to put on a backpack. I would like to be even more patient in this regard, recognizing that it’s part of our ‘curriculum.’ Again, the children show such pride when they can help with a task related to their bodies, or even do it mostly themselves, with just a bit of encouragement (‘can you try wiggling the boot a bit,’ or ‘let’s see if we can open this lunch kit together; I’ll get this bit started, and you lift here...’
' ...we have seen that, as children gain confidence in caring for themselves, they also develop an increasing level of comfort and confidence in being in nature.'
Thanks for reading a bit more a rambling blog entry this week!