Rain, rain, come and stay, all the children want to play

We have had a couple of rainy afternoons. The kiddos had so much fun playing in the mud, and splashing in puddles. We measured how deep our boots sank into the puddles. We made mud balls, and mud cakes, and potions. We figured out how much water is too much in a bucket (when it runs over). We slid down a muddy hill (sorry, didn’t catch any pics of that, but it was epic).

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One of the most frequently asked question about my work here is: Do you really go out with the children in all kinds of weather?

My answer is always: Yes! We do!

There are so many reasons for being out, and playing in the rain! There is the joy of being in nature, navigating slippery terrain (trains gross-motor skills), engaging all senses, a sense for the impact of weather on nature, and on us.

“The experience of playing outdoors in the rain helps children learn to test slippery paths before stepping on them, avoid deep puddles and take advantage of more shallow puddles, and keep their balance in different types of shoes. Learn through their senses.”

This is from an excellent article by Sheila Williams-Ridge I found on the free forest school website. You can access the full article below.

https://www.freeforestschool.org/2018/02/what-can-children-learn-playing-in-rain/

Wishing you Happy Holidays, and a Happy New Year!

Forest Explorers at Work

In the past weeks the forest explorers have been doing some exploring of new areas!

On one of our walks we discovered an area with a vine, perfect for swinging!

As we were walking, one of our intrepid explorers turned around, announcing “Now I get it!! We are Forest Explorers, not Playground Explorers!! Yay, we are exploring the forest. Come, let’s keep going!”

It is so wonderful observing the children making connection with nature, and each other.

Ah, and what better way to foster wonder. We wondered a lot that day. What lay behind the next hill? Where is a good place to rest? How will we find our way back? Can we use the vine for swinging? Where do the deer go? Who ate all the acorns, and buckeyes?

Wonder abounds, and one question always leads to another.

Forest Explorers

Hello all, and welcome to the first Green Dragon Bytes Blog in the 2019/2020 school year. We started in September with a few changes. The director position is now filled by Maren Jung.

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She worked in the Forest Explorers Afterschool Program as an assistant last year, together with Aliyah Brooks, who is still working as an assistant for the Forest Explorers.

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Our new faces are Kerron Webb, and Shaina Steiner, both are working with the elementary age children.

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Introducing Bread Fridays

In accordance with plans we made last year to introduce more self-made snacks we are going to bake bread with the children’s garden Forest Explorers group. The recipe, and materials used are the same the Children’s Garden Morning Program uses.

The Children’s Garden Forest Explorers are baking bread!

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Taking the bread to the kitchen

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A bread snake

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Octopus, Hands, and few bird feet breads.

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Especially delicious if eaten outside.

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Made With Love

The Forest Aftercare Program at Waldorf School of Baltimore is always looking for ways to let our students know how much we care for them and their well-being. One way that we do this is to have our teachers prepare healthy homemade snacks. Our “Forest Program Cookbook” is ever-changing as we add new recipes and as old favorites are met with “Do you really expect me to eat this, AGAIN” stares.

Our incredible staff of teachers make pickles, carrot crackers, beet chips, no bake granola, popcorn and more. Throughout the year, we do our best to focus on seasonal ingredients. We always have allergen-free options available, and the entire team works very hard to be sure we are serving the safest, and tastiest snacks possible. They can be a tough crowd to please, but eating freshly prepared snacks makes our students happier and healthier, and keeps our program focused on what really matters.

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Working together…

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…doesn’t really feel like work!

After our school day ends, Waldorf students have the opportunity to spend their next 3 hours in the Forest Program. An concept that originated in Scandanavia, Forest Schools guide their pupils through positive interactions with nature year-round. Whether we’re building shelters, swinging on vines, learning to identify trees and bird calls, or just relaxing in the woods, our group is constantly developing the concepts of cooperation, teamwork, kindness, and self-care.

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Spending so much time throughout the year connecting with a natural space has a profound impact on a human being’s concept of time, of self, and of responsibility to a larger whole. These are not lessons that need to be introduced at the beginning of each day, their development happens naturally along with the growth and development of our special group of pre-K to 8th Grade Forest Program students.

If you are curious about Forest Schools, or our program specifically, please feel free to contact the Forest Program coordinator, Jason Reed, at jreed@twsb.org

Waldorf 5th Graders Go Native!

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Our fifth graders have been working all year on their final project for Nature Studies. They have adopted a small parcel of woods adjacent to the school and have spent months removing invasive plant species, combating erosion, and planning a spring planting. Last week, our students were finally ready to get the plants for their project.

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The 5th grade piled into the buses, and we were on our way to Herring Run Nursery in Baltimore. Herring Run specializes in native plants, species that have adapted to our specific area over a loooooooong time. This makes them more resilient, and better sources of food and habitat for local insects and animals.

We couldn’t have picked a better spot! The staff at Herring Run showed us examples of rain gardens, meadow gardens, and pollinator gardens. They talked to us about watersheds and microclimates, and most importantly, they helped us select the best plants for our project.

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Please check back often for updates, as the next few weeks will be a flurry of activity as we work to plant all of these amazing native plants.

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WSB Sustainability Club partners with MOM’s Market to reduce waste

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This week, our Middle School Sustainability Club at the Waldorf School of Baltimore took a quick trip over to Mom’s Organic Market. Our students brought 4 shopping carts FULL of “Terracycling”. Terracycle collects waste that can’t be recycled through normal means- candy bar wrappers, batteries, and more.

During our visit, students learned about other ways of reducing our waste, discussed ways of improving their collection program with MOM’s staff, and had time to share a picnic lunch.

We are so very thankful to Mom’s Organic Markets for their collaboration, and look forward to working together to create a more sustainable Baltimore!