Hand-In-Hand December News

Musings from the educators…

What I noticed this month by Alix:
We are halfway through our winter break – does anybody else miss going to school?! It has been what I would call an outstanding start to our program! Although we have only been together for a little over three months, the group has grown in leaps and bounds! These are no longer “little” three year olds – they are competent, confident and increasingly independent learners. These children have endured some challenging weather, experienced how familiar places change on a daily basis and have become comfortable in the forest. They have grown to respect and care for each other, as well as the world around them. They are adventurous explorers, inquisitive scientists, and avid learners – qualities we hope will stay with each child their whole life! I am looking forward to the New Year, to see where the children will take us, and to watch them grow even more! It will be interesting to see how the group welcomes our new Seed – Erik – to the group, and how they help him achieve all of the qualities the group has grown to acquire!   

What I noticed this month by Heather:
A chance to pause now, at the end of the calendar year. Taking a moment to reflect, all I can think is, wow, we made it! Not just four months spent idly watching the days slip by but we absolutely kicked this program off to a great start! I am so grateful to all the families who took a leap with us and tried out a brand new early years program!! That takes some brave and creative parents to have faith in such an unconventional idea. You’ve probably noticed how your children have grown, in their social skills, their independence, their reasoning and curiosity, and their physical abilities! I hope it has transferred over to positive experiences at home too, and in this way we can build a strong community of learners. Speaking of community, watching the children form supportive and playful relationships this past month has been especially significant. The Seeds help each other with everything from opening snack containers to fixing up our leafy shelter by ‘giving it a paint job’ or actually reinforcing the walls with more long sticks! It is truly joyful to watch them grow together, an example of budding community.

Themes from December:

Weather was the biggest theme for December! For some reason it seemed like the Seeds took the brunt of the storms – case in point – the only time we’ve had to resort to our alternative location, and cut the day short, was a Seeds day! We saw lots of wind, rain and even snow this month, and the group is getting very good at keeping warm! They have learned first hand that keeping mittens or gloves on keeps hands warm, and that keeping dry also helps! Because of the weather, we got to see radical changes to our forest – trails became rivers, land was hard and frozen, and snow transformed our classroom into a winter wonderland! All these changes have taught the children that they have to move their bodies in new ways to adapt (and have fun) in changing conditions, which of course is building their already growing physical literacy.
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We were on our way to the “Waterfall” classroom when, at the meadow, we realized that we weren’t going to make it – the pace was too slow, with the puddles distracting, and the weather too rainy.

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We ended up back at the pavilion, where we did our calendar and enjoyed snack before heading back into the rain for the second half of our morning.

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It is often hard to capture just how rainy it is, but this picture, with the huge drops in the water, does a pretty good job. Here we are headed to a new classroom, which after this day became known as the “River Trail” classroom.

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We weren’t expecting the trail to have been transformed into a river, but there it was, waiting for us to discover it! This was not our initially intended destination, but the running water was irresistible, and transformed this area into a very dynamic spot!

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Although our alternative site – Cumberlands Village Park – had man-made play structures nearby, many of the children preferred to “play” with their favorite things!

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Enjoying some imaginative play in the relative shelter of the playground.

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At snack time, we decided to call the day short in order for the children to leave in good spirits and with a positive experience. After snack we headed down to the lower field to chase seagulls and check out the squelchy grass. Despite the weather, the children all had a great day, and learned that they can have fun outdoors no matter what!

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We got our first taste of snow during our field trip to Mount Washington. The soft, deep snow on this steep hill provided many physical challenges!

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Climbing up the hill definitely took more time and effort than sliding down!

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Snacking in the snow was different than our forest experience – we were able to build benches to sit on, and Heather and Alix brought warm drinks to share

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Our wagon was replaced by a toboggan for the field trip. Here Torin is helping the class by pulling it on our explore walk.

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We had excellent guest speakers for our trip – Here John is showing us some of the gear he and Kama use to have fun in the winter.

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A couple of weeks later, and on our last day of preschool for the year, we were treated to snow in our forest school! It was coming down steadily as we started our day and everyone was very happy about it!

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The snow was the perfect medium for drawing and writing in

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The snow changed the way we played in one of our most familiar classrooms. It didn’t take long for the children to realize they could slide their bodies down our hill!

Another theme we noticed in December is how the children have grown to respect each other and our environment. They show a concern for each other’s work/creations and ideas during play. They are increasingly respectful of each other’s bodies, and independently leave space for each other and organize themselves to take turns. They are quick to suggest picking up garbage that is found in the classroom and were happy to leave “presents” for the birds on the last day of class.

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Working together to mix a stew

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These four had different ideas about what, how and who could play in the shelter. With a bit of guidance, they were able to figure out how to incorporate the ideas and were playing happily together moments later.

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Not all of the things we find are garbage – here is our treasure tree – where we put interesting things that we find in the Maples classroom

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Although the ground is frozen hard, these three were determined to dig the rock up. There were only two digging tools available, but they figured out how to take turns all by themselves.

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Helping friends find their lanterns in a snowy classroom.

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Here Nova and Amelia are busy building snowmen, while the children in the background are indulging Poppy in her play, where she is sleeping but will not wake up. They shake her, sing loud songs and wonder at why she is sleeping so soundly.

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