The snow changes every time we meet up for Nature school these days— sometimes it has a hard crust we can walk on, other times it is soft or slushy. It makes for an adventurous track from the Gazebo to base camp.
Once we all make it to the tipi, we sit in our circle of stump stools and light the fire. The children have been so attentive and respectful of our fire, and have enjoyed holding and passing an object (eagle feather or large shell) as we sing each child’s name in our welcome song. By this time bellies are growling and snacks come out!
Then the plays begins… snow gardening for lichen in the bushes, snow queens casting magic spells with ice crusted twigs, or playing with the shadows on the Tipi.
There are many animal tracks to be found in the snow throughout our forest, and the kids are eager to spot and identify them. Most of the children can identify deer tracks, and there are always a few imaginative guesses about dragons or lions too!
As part of our closing circle time, we have had each new child pick their own “sit spot” and marked each place with their name on a piece of flagging tape, all located within sight of the tipi. Everyone uses their eagle eyes, owl ears, and coyote noses to silently and independently observe their natural environment from their spot for a few minutes; then the little brass bell is rung and we gather together in a seated circle around a single burning candle to share our observations. On Tuesday this was followed up by some fun songs about animals and spiders before packing up and heading out to meet parents at the snow pile mountain in the parking lot.
I checked the weather forecast when I woke up on Thursday, and couldn’t believe the amount of rain they were calling for. I had to check, is this mid January?! Although we had packed extra gear and were ready for it, in the end it didn’t rain much — instead the sun came out! Hooray! There was some real pent up energy needing to get out in a few of the kids, resulting in some loud and physical playing. Around the tipi snow forts were being constructed from blocks of snow cut out with our orange plastic trowels, and new fangled inventions were being created using various sized sticks propped between fallen trees in the snow.
A rope line was constructed back at base camp to help kids make their way up the icy incline as they return to the tipi; some children were making a chain of hands to pull each other up, while others were clearly wanting to make the challenging trek using the rope on their own. We changed a lot of soggy mitts and wet socks, but feel that the kids are improving in their ability to communicate if they are too hot/cold/wet and ask for help. Thanks for sending your kids so well prepared for mornings of outdoor adventure!
Over at the slip and slide hill, what cooperation! Two boys formed a bucket brigade, filling and packing down snow, even carrying the bucket together; the others, sliding down and checking in to make sure Kristina was blocking the fence holes; waiting their turn...calling out points of safety--'maybe we shouldn't slide down with shovels.' Kids were purposefully choosing the hardest, slipperiest paths for a personal challenge.
We changed a lot of soggy mitts and wet socks, but feel that the kids are improving in their ability to communicate if they are too hot/cold/wet and ask for help. Thanks for sending your kids so well prepared for mornings of outdoor adventure!