What a great second week of Nature School!
Tuesday brought about great excitement, as there was the surprise of a tipi waiting for us at our regular “base camp”. The kids loved sitting on the stump stools inside the dwelling, smelling the cedar boughs that lined the floor, and looking up and around to notice all the shapes the structure was made of (triangle, circle, cone). We talked about how the door faces East towards the rising sun, and shared with the curious children about the First Nations people. Their faces lit up as we sang each of their names in our welcome song, and then it was time to go out into our forest and explore.
The kids were content to stay close to our base camp and we saw imaginations expand with lots of collaboration and focused play; one group was digging and working out how to raise their own tipi out of sticks; another group spent a good hour tying rope lines between trees, creating a giant spiderweb. It takes a lot of concentrated effort and patience to tie (invented!) knots and join rope lines with others, with a few superhero interactions along the way!
Other children were busy balancing on rocks and logs while reaching into the bushes to collect snowberries and elderberries into their buckets (not eating these kinds), content to just enjoying the meditative act of collecting and picking. Yet another group of young explorers headed out on a bear hunt! At our closing circle, Lois shared her spider collection and we played our bear den game which is already a favourite with the children (ask them about it!)
Thursday had very different energy than Tuesday. The sun was out and we sure played hard! Our day in the forest opened with circle time in the tipi and the forest salad/morning name game; we are still learning each others names, but despite this new friendships are emerging each session. We introduced a new routine called“sit spot”, where each child picked their own special spot in the forest (within sight of us, but apart from others) and sat quietly for 2 minutes with eagle eyes, coyote ears, and noses like a bear, silently observing their surrounding. We loved hearing afterwards about the joy of discovering tiny creatures around them, birds singing nearby, the sound (and curiosity!) of rustling leaves, and using their imaginations as they reported such events as eagles playing tag overhead.
The kids were keen to really go out into the forest on Thursday, and one group spent much time and hard work on building a stick lean-to shelter, with kids bringing sticks of various lengths from all over, leaning them up against the frame, while others were simultaneously building pretend campfires, collecting snowberries, and helping 'weave' in fir needle branches to cover the walls...this project went on for a good long time! Meanwhile another group went to a different area of the forest to weave another spiderweb out of ropes and happened to witness two squirrels playing tag, which led to trying out our own “squirrel chatter” with the animals in the tree seeming to talk back!
The children are becoming very comfortable with their forest trails and junctions, and already growing leaps and bounds in independence. As they explore more areas of the forest we will continue to discuss “how do we play safely/have fun while being able to see each other and an adult?” Thanks for all your parental support, enthusiasm, and feedback, we love spending this special time with your kids immersed in nature. See you Tuesday!