Catching up from the past few weeks!
We have been counting everything. How many kids? Boys? Girls? Seat stumps? How many Tipis? Suns? Adults? Children? What's our magic number today?
These Nature Schoolers are examining our first bug of the season--lady bug larvae! We see these on the same log every spring, mainly in this one part of the forest. Quick, someone run and grab the magnifying glasses!
Ropes! Sure sign of spring. We put them away for the winter because the handwork involves taking off mitts, leading to cold fingers. Today there were pulley systems rigged up, a swing, a mini zipline and all kinds of creative rope inventions.
Our gang thrived over the winter, and sure deserve the sunny days that are coming!
Each time the children discover a 'new' tree they'd like to climb, it's like entering a whole different world...Many of the trees we 'climb' are actually sideways, branches that have bent or grown outwards instead of upwards. The thrill is big and the risk is minimal. Where to put my feet? Which branches to hold? Oops, my foot got stuck there, I'm tree tangled! Will this be strong enough to hold me? Look, I can jump off here, I can hang on and swing down to the ground. As leaders we are cautious when children are exploring a new tree or jumble of branches. We often break off branches that look weak, but that a child might not notice are week. We elicit many conversations with the kids, ensuring they test branches out before placing their full weight on them. The ongoing dialogue pays off.
There have been many stories, featuring all manner of kids having adventures, silly animals, discoveries, dinosaurs, birds, frogs...The cries for 'more stories!' ring out in the Tipi each time we meet. We enjoy searching for well-written nature-themed stories that can spark questions, elicit awe and wonder, that children can relate to, and that just plain old encourage adventure and exploration.
Forest tea! This was an exciting change from our usual routine (we bring tea in a thermos each day). Today we went on a group walk to collect edible bits (douglas and grand fir and rosehips) for our very own tea, and sampled needles along the way. The kids were ecstatic to be given permission to taste the needles, and shared along the way (funny faces, yum, yuck, that's lemony etc). We steeped the tea together with some honey over the fire while we were reading books. It was touching to see how proud the kids were of the tea, how enthused and how they drank each and every drop up!
For our final day of the Winter Session we welcomed the parents to the Tipi, which is always a highlight for the kids--they love to show their parents and grandparents around the forest, share muffins and welcome in the new Nature Schoolers. See you in April, wolf pack!
I'll leave you with an interesting article from 1000 Hours Outside, about how puddle play helps to develop a child's sense of balance. By experimenting with the amount of force they need to create a splash (or not), children are developing an an important sense (proprioception) that can help them become aware of where their body is in space (leading to the ability to regulate the amount of force needed for physical games, like tag, later in life!)