Musings from the Educators

Alix: April was such a remarkably beautiful month, that it almost felt like vacation! The abundance of life around us in the forest, the warmer temperatures, and the strong bonds that have developed between all of us (educators, children and parents too) made April a beautiful month for exploring. With Earth Day in April, it was a month for us to examine our role as stewards of the forest, and to think of ways to help keep the forest healthy. The children have definitely developed a strong tie to the place where they learn and play, and often don’t need Heather or I to remind others about showing respect and care for the forest, and each other. Rather, they give each other friendly reminders, and have dialogue surrounding issues where not everyone agrees. These Seeds have grown so much since September – and we still have two months to continue growing! I’m looking forward to what May will bring!

Heather: As a new teacher, I’ve only had a few opportunities to watch kids grow and develop from September until now. Stepping back, I am truly awed and excited when I see how far these little ones have come. The lifelong learning habits, social strengths and character they’ve matured so far are so neat to witness. And I have you to thank for sharing this special time in your child’s life with us, and I recognize that most of the learning they do is at home, so well done! I’ve especially noticed their development of inquiry into the natural world. They have more questions, observations and interactions with the world down on the ground and high in the skies. They picked up a whole repertoire of species names and edible food that they can positively identify. And they seem to revel in sharing their knowledge and excitement about this world with others. What a great achievement, and there’s two more months of it to come! (Yes, I’m already starting to feel sad)

Themes from April

Fire Making and Exploration at Comox Lake
Thanks to Emily from the Cumberland Lake Wilderness Society (and also Maeve’s mom) we had a great day at Comox Lake starting a fire, making bannock and exploring the steep and tricky trails!

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Our field trip to Comox Lake kicked off with finding rocks to make our fire ring. Watching the children work together to achieve a common goal reminds me of how strong this group has grown!

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Emily passed around a cedar bough for us to smell, then two pieces of wood – one cedar and one fir. The children were able to identify the cedar after smelling the bough.

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After rolling their own bannock “snakes” and then having them roasted over the fire, the children enjoyed a tasty treat!

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We celebrated Iris’ 4th birthday at the lake, with our Passage of Time ceremony.

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We even had time to explore the woods beside the lake, and investigated some towering cliffs.

Frogs, Pond Life and other Springtime Discoveries
April is surely a time alive with wonders of birth, sprouting and growth. We spent the first few weeks delving deep into the murky waters of the pond by the Bridge classroom. There we found a plethora of insects, tadpoles, salamander eggs, not to mention the shoots of many young and intriguing plants. We focused on the frog life cycle, and learned about tadpoles and froglets. Iris’s family brought us some tadpoles from a pond near their house, and we look forward to watching as they develop!

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Books with great photos and illustrations allow children to explore the life cycle independently, and having frog themed play props makes it easy for them to put this learning into action

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Frog art, and frog songs also enriched our frog study. Here Gemma has a speckled frog – perhaps inspired by the “5 green and speckled frogs” song?

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Preschoolers learn with their whole bodies – here Kaya, Iris and Nova show us that things are really hopping at the pavilion.

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A special thanks to Iris and her family for bringing us some tadpoles!

Earth Day and the Great Plastic Round Up We were lucky to have Jarrett join us to read the book he co-authored “The Great Plastic Round Up” leading up to Earth Day. It sparked conversation about what we can do to help our planet stay healthy, and specifically how we need to take care of the forest that we have grown to love. This is one of the main proponents of Nature School – place based learning, which creates a deep connection between the students and the space they learn in. In order for people to care about the Earth (or forest), they must first love the Earth (and forest)!

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Two of the Seeds’ favourite things – Jarrett and a story! For such a young group of preschoolers, they really understood the story’s concept and were able to chime in with valuable suggestions afterwards.

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We all created our own worlds on Earth Day – it was great to ask the children to point out where we live on their globe!

New Shovels, New Classroom! As our Seeds grow stronger and stronger, we are able to explore further and further from the pavilion. This month we made it to the Log Jam classroom, which is a perfect place to use our fabulous new shovels, which were generously donated to our group! The children really enjoy using them, with many asking to bring them home! 

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The Log Jam classroom is dry at the moment, making it a giant sand box perfect for digging.

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It didn’t take long for construction to begin – here a house is being built complete with a fireplace and door

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We were able to find a small pool of water a little ways upstream and were delighted to find trout of various sizes living there.

Community of Learners
Learning, growing and sharing experiences since September has resulted in a group of close-knit preschoolers – which is one of our aims! These kids are so capable – they know our routines, expectations and are such keen observers that us educators can take another step back and watch them lead the way! We’ve seen friends delegate cone placement, friendly behaviour reminders and taking the reins on leading play and exploration.

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As much as this picture is heart-breaking, it illustrates perfectly how this community of learners works. As in any community, there are sometimes disagreements between its members – in this case Gemma is very upset because some friends were stomping on black ants, who “were not bothering anyone”. What is golden about this community is that right away everyone came together to work out the problem – no one wanted to have a sad friend.

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Everyone is feeling much better after events have been worked out. The concern and love from these little hearts is palpable – Zacharys arm on Heather is just one indicator.

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With the warmer weather, there are numerous discoveries made daily, and proudly shared between the children. Here a beetle is being passed around for everyone to look at.

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Sometimes discoveries are shared in a more quiet way. Fin is sharing with Maeve information about another beetle he found – where he found it, and both children enjoyed watching it after Fin released it back to the forest.

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The “Mouse House” continues to be a favorite place to return to, and the work never stops on this structure. The play does not get old, but rather deepens and becomes more complex at each visit.

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Climbing the very steep hill out of the waterfall classroom was a child-led initiative. It was a clear challenge that initially one or two children wanted to attempt. In the end the entire class chose to undertake the challenge, and everyone made it to the “top”, with some children arriving thanks to a little help from their friends. The image at the top of this newsletter is full of proud smiles as a result of conquering this challenge.