With the weather getting warmer we will start to have the afternoon snack outside again. Yesterday we had our first of many picnics!
Our hand washing station is an orange water cooler, and some hand soap, very gentle and okay for environment, and small hands.
The cooler also doubles as a our drinking water station. Cups, and bowls get washed after each meal by a teacher.
We may incorporate having the children wash cups and bowls in the future.
Pulling the supply wagon, and setting out and breaking down the picnic are great opportunities for little hands to do meaningful work. It also allows us to talk about keeping the nature around us clean. We never leave anything behind.
First grade nature studies did a forest clean up day. Before we headed out, we had a brief discussion in the classroom about what, how, and why we were doing this.
First grade got it right away!!
“Oh I know, we are doing this to help the earth!” “Yes! And the forest, and the animals!” “Can we also pick up glass?” “How can we pick up glass? You can’t use your hands!”
Good thing there were work gloves for everyone.
Fortified with gloves, and trash bags we headed out to see how much we can clean up.
After 40min we had filled a big trash bag with plastic bags, styrofoam containers, glass bottles, old metal parts, one fox poop, and lots and lots of glass pieces. We also found an old tire, but decided to leave it, because it could not fit in the trash bag. We thought it might get turned into a play thing.
1st grade had fun, and the woods are little cleaner 🙂
5th grade has started using nature journals. Each nature studies class we pose questions to study a different thing in the forest that captures their interest.
Today we asked
1. What do I notice?
2. What does it remind me of?
3. What do I wonder?
Students looked closely at trees, moss, and dirt describing what they noticed (for example “It’s green. It looks smooth. It looks brown”; what it reminds them of (for example “It makes me think for broccoli (the moss). It makes me think of a club (a stick), or It makes me think of a tree in my backyard”
They wondered about the age of a tree, what will happen when an old log decays more, and many other things.
When we go back next week our question will be “What has changed?”
The Forest Explorers have been exploring a new part of the area around the school. It is a little walk away. It has a rain water overflow, functioning as a pond for chucking rocks after it has rained. It also has plenty of trees, and rocks to explore.
The children have really been into swinging lately, and the new area does not have very many vines to swing from so we made a swing from a piece of rope. This also makes it easier to swing for children who are not tall enough, or strong enough yet to use a swing in the woods.
Sometimes when it gets very rainy, or too cold, or late and thus dark we hang out in the school building in one of the children’s garden classrooms.
We offer activities for children. That day someone gave us a big, empty box. The children decorated it with crayons, and then used it to play with.
A box can take the imagination so many places.
4th grade nature studies class went on a nature walk the other day. Those walks often end at a place we all call Elephant Rock, two big boulders in an area that also has a little brook further down.
That day we did not stop at Elephant Rock, but decided to explore further down, along the brook.
Excited two 4th grades called me over. “You HAVE to see this!!!”, “Yeah, it looks so weird.”
They had found skunk cabbage. There is a whole field growing in the wet, muddy land at the bottom of the creek, near the brook.
Symplocarpus foetidus, commonly known as skunk cabbage or eastern skunk cabbage, is a low growing plant that grows in wetlands and moist hill slopes of eastern North America. Bruised leaves present a fragrance reminiscent of skunk. (Wikipedea)
Much to everyone’s surprise there are actually parts of this plant you can eat.
Below is some more info on skunk cabbage.
I don’t know about you, but I remember building forts in various living rooms, basements, backyards, and parks 🙂 I remember the satisfaction I felt when a structure held, and hid me and my friends. I remember relishing the privacy it gave, to play out our intricate games. I remember the community we built by building together!
Turns out it is a natural instinct, and it is also really beneficial to children! According to research the need to build forts starts around age 5/6, and lasts until around age 12/13.
Apart from from being fun, it helps children figure out their nearby world, and it helps them become more independent.
It also teaches skills!
3rd grade is working on forts at the moment, and keeping the bamboo rods, and sticks in place presented a challenge. We quickly figured out lashing would probably help, since nails are out of the question when you use a living tree as your anchor.
Skills learned: problem solving, lashing, tying secure knots, team work, fine motor skill training, mathematical concepts like balance, and angle, regard for nature.
Below you can find an article about the benefits of fort building.
Have a wonderful weekend
Thank you Olivia, and Elijah James, for taking care of our chicken during the break, and thank you Jason Reed for helping with transport 🙂
Happy to be back at their home yard, and ready for kitchen scraps!!
Free play in 1st grade nature studies turned into a wonderful opportunity for team building and team work.Part of the class had decided to climb up a steep incline. A few of the children were already on top, a few were still down at the bottom. They very quickly figured out that one person could not reach down to help friends up, because their arms were not long enough. They tried using a stick, to pull friends up but this was deemed to impractical. After a short meeting, and a call for help to more class mates they came up with the solution to use the conveniently placed metal pole to anchor themselves for a chain. This way they could pull up the friends in need of help down below.
It was truly a wonder to watch this process in action.
On Tuesday we had the first snowfall sticking this year. It started around noontime, and by around 3pm had turned into a nice snowy afternoon.
The Forest Explorers had a lot of fun playing in and with what snow was on the ground at that time.
Nothing can stop you when you’re wearing the right kind of gear 🙂
Welcome back to school, and Happy New Year.
As many of you may have noticed, our chickens have left!! They are in their winter care quarters, exitedly pecking away at new worms, and fresh greens.
They will return after the winter break.
Thank you Olivia James (mother of Eli James), and Jennifer Downs (Grandmother of Carmen) for taking care of them during the break 🙂
Happy Holidays, cluck cluck!
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).
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.
Wishing you Happy Holidays, and a Happy New Year!