Musings from the educators…
What I noticed this month by Heather:
Watching children who go from strangers with one another, to friends playing with one another, and then learning from one another, you know you’ve reached a pinnacle time of the year. It is pure magic to see children use advanced speaking skills to share their knowledge and understand ing of the world. From identifying young sprouts to explaining how to do hand-over-hand raising of a bucket, this group has really excelled in communicating and working as a team. And it comes when forest life is about to explode and each child’s previous experiences with Spring come to light. Whether from gardening, time spent outside just playing or doing activities, each child brings a wealth of experiences to our program. Without prompting, they will also share their skills on preparedness, safety and group cohesion with one another. They helped each with their backpacks and lunch containers consistently this past month. They reminded each other how to participate or showed each other how to be accommodating and work collaboratively with the group. With group cohesion so strong like this, we can slowly challenge ourselves and learn more, all the while finding more time for the observation and appreciation of nature. An act of learning in and of itself. I’m so grateful to all the families who have joined us in this journey so far. With Spring on the horizon I am excited to see where we’ll go from here!
What I noticed this month by Alix:
Signs of spring have slowly started showing themselves around us in the forest. There is a definite feeling that we have passed through the hardest weather and most challenging days. It seems that the children can feel this as well, and the spring energy can be seen in them too. Friendships that have been developing since September are becoming solid bonds. As the weather gets warmer, families are arranging play dates and enjoying the lighter days. During school time, children have requested we return to hand holding (which was abandoned when bulky mittens made it too hard), and hugs are exchanged on a daily basis. It is fun to watch this class grow closer and closer together – they really care for one another, and the absence of any individual is always noticed by the group. My heart sings when I see that these children who were strangers to each other a short 6 months ago, have become a community!
Themes from February:
Tapping Maples for Sap
Early in February, on the perfect frosty morning, we headed out just past our Maples classroom with Heather’s partner Ben to
‘tap’ maple trees. Ben explained to the Roots how trees take nutrients and water from the earth and draw it up through the trunk and branches to help it grow and stay alive. The combination of nutrients and water is sap, which we were extracting out the tree through a spile drilled into the tree that would spout out sap into a jar. In the end, enough watery sap could be boiled down into maple syrup!
Sticks and Shapes
Our themes this month really flowed into each other quite seamlessly. We started out with sticks, which are always incorporated into play in our classrooms, but at the pavilion they were used on a smaller scale. Many qualities were noticed – colour, length, thickness, and these observations were brought to the classroom as well. We used sticks to touch briefly on shapes, which led to our Valentine’s craft. The Valentine craft led to discussions about friendship, love and other emotions.
Through creating faces, reading books about it, and practicing understanding during the day, the children learned about different emotions, how to recognize them and some appropriate reactions to different emotions. During our day we face social, physical and environmental challenges. We also enjoy funny, silly, exciting and calm moments too!
Discoveries and Curiousities
Everyday this month we found something that the whole group would run over to see, ask questions about, or try. Sometimes its a worm, bug, interesting sticks or bird in the sky. Other times we decided to try a new path, or climb a new hill or stump. In these moments of awe and excitement we found the children we’re exceptionally open to thinking differently about the new thing. We will define safety guidelines, or discuss how to be sensitive to an organism’s needs.
Team-work and collaborative play
Individual abilities really shine when the group took on self directed play and activities this month. As evidenced through digging and dumping projects, pirate play, and more, we saw the group grow as a whole team with different interests who worked together. This kind of inclusive play also highlighted how the children recognized their own strengths and those of their peers. Extending empathy and acknowledgement of each other’s abilities are sure signs of social development!
Nature Nerd Bonus!:
Alix and I have positively identified some Western Yew (Taxus brevifolia) trees in our forest! One day, Theo asked ‘What kind of tree is this?” about the ‘red climbing tree’. I had always thought it to be a bit obscure which type of tree it was as it is covered in moss and half dead. But his question got me thinking, hey, maybe it’s an elusive Yew! Here’s some close-ups of our red climbing tree: