Hello! There has been great anticipation about the spring session of Nature School, with 11 keen children, new families and an excited team of mentors who have been getting ready! Some of the children know about Nature School from their older siblings, or friends, and for some it is their first regular program away from home. Amazingly, we only had a few tears on the first day and the kids have been keen to carry their own packs, dig out their lunches, and explore the forest.
We started out our week with a group trip to see the 'forest potty,' and quickly moved onto play, exploring, drawing pictures, and having exciting conversations about all manner of things: What are these fuzzy caterpillar-like things on the ground? (aspen catkins!) Let's collect some for our buckets! Why are these snail shells broken, and is anything alive inside? What happens to snails when their shells break? What does camouflage mean and what kind of animals use camouflage?
There was fun with magnifying glasses, hiking the trails, experiments with jumping off of logs and climbing low trees, and logs were turned over to find the first worms and spiders. We enjoyed two books about spring and seeds, learning about how animals often poop out seeds, which helps spread them around (to great giggles!)
On Friday, Melissa and I introduced a nest building activity, by talking as a group about what kind of things birds like to use for their nests (and listening to a particularly excited bird outside the Tipi, at the same time). We started out by mixing up some mud, and using grass, sticks and mud to form our nests. After the kids got the hang of it, they were off to the races, forming their eggs out of clay. A few children moved their nests to the ground, and were mother birds for the rest of the day protecting their precious eggs.
Mother birds protecting their eggs.
Story time! Also a time of learning to be independent and responsible, with opening lunch kits, eating snack and tea and packing away again at the end. Definitely a learning process!
Routine is an important part of the Nature School. When it's time to play, it's child-led, and our routine helps the group to bond and learn social skills together (sitting in a circle, taking turns to share about the day, respecting the candle, singing together).
Getting our bush legs comfortable with climbing over logs, on the much loved 'leaning tree.'
Expressing curiosity, asking questions and wondering about those funny fuzzy worm-like aspen catkins all over the ground!
Children LOVE drawing in the forest!
Waiting to head home, and a little eye spy! It's a really special time, introducing these very young nature-schoolers to the forest, to their community of friends and mentors and knowing that over the next few months their legs will sprout and they will grow and develop into confident explorers, inquirers and imaginative beings. Thank you to all of the families who have been so supportive and eager to pack their kids up for mornings of play in the forest!