Honestly, I find it easy to overlook the glory of November sometimes. With shorter days and colder weather it can be harder for me to be excited about going outside. Thankfully, when you’re well prepared and get to enjoy the changes that each day brings, November can be a truly wonderful month. The children have shown intrepid hardiness and curiosity. We are learning how to overcome the daily struggles of cold hands, runny noses, minor disappointments and the likes. It is empowering for both kids and teachers to know how to cope and use strategies so we spend more time learning and playing. The group spent more time contemplating nature’s marvels; weather, water, frost, ice and owls were captivating subjects. Meanwhile, imaginative play helped children navigate “real life” subjects like dogs and animal care, mechanics, digging and domestic life. I am truly amazed at the breadth of activities and topics we cover in any one day – never mind a whole month!
What I noticed this month by Alix:
November seemed to pass very quickly – probably because it was full of learning. We experienced such a wide variety of conditions, from beautiful blue sky sunshine, to torrential rain, to frozen frost-kissed days. This month many children experienced, maybe for the first time, being uncomfortable – be it when wet or cold – and learned how to overcome this discomfort and in doing so, grew stronger in spirit! Having the shared experience of enduring tough weather has helped the group grow even closer, and it has been fun to watch as budding friendships deepen and new relationships spark up as well! This group is full of heart – they care for one another, help each other, and notice when a friend is missing – it makes my soul sing! Of course, not every day is perfect, and we are all still learning, but at this point, the positive interactions fill the majority of our days.
Themes from November:
Working together during transitions translates to more teamwork and inclusiveness beyond the routines, and into play. I’m seeing more invitations to join play from one kid to another in both productive projects and imaginative play. Such as solutions to the problem of a favoured stick or rock or piece of bark. Sharing is a big part of early learning, and the kids are demonstrating it more often now. That also means sharing space with more kids when playing, and sharing roles, “We can both be the caboose!”
Trying to fit everyone on the rock is both sharing and a challenge. It requires balance, strength and coordination between these three to succeed! (Which they did)
Torin is sharing the carabiners with the other kids, even though he wanted to use all of them. The different colours and challenge of opening and closing them is fun. Also it is used as a tool to attach things like buckets and rope together.
There are moments when everyone works together, such as this one, when figuring out which way the tarp goes for snack can be a group effort!
Sharing discoveries of a fungus, also sharing values. Here, the kids are talking to each other about how to be careful to let the fungus continue to grow.
Limbo! Working together to lift the stick high. And safely! We are still working on how to play with sticks without accidentally hurting someone.
Experiential play sometimes looks like a child repeating motions or tasks so they can test out best ways to do things, master them and try ideas and sensations. Engaging in this kind of play for long periods of time lets minds and bodies relax, so kids can develop in safe and sensory way. There are so many ways to build skills and understanding – and for our Seeds play is one of the best ways. Here are some examples of what they got up to in November.
Here Sunny is directing the other kids to stop and go. She is working on clear communication while the others work on listening, both with their ears and their bodies!
Amelia spent a lot of time challenging herself on the stump – climbing down into the hole, trying to go under the root, etc
Experiencing the different sounds of our ‘treasures’ as we tap them with various sticks, metal objects and rocks. The treasures are mostly remnants from the historic Chinese and Japanese townsites that our program rests on.
Finnigan and Gemma whip through the giant puddle! Creating splashes and smiles as they go.
Manipulating the rope and buckets kids get to work with the forces of nature and the forest bits and pieces in another constructive way. This zipline is a common theme and collaborative project. Iris is making the bucket go fast down the zipline by giving it a little push!
Puddle jumping is a classic example of experimental play. Do you walk through and splash, or jump up and down? Do you inform your friends or soak them? What will happen if you get your friends wet? The very sensation of walking or running through water tells us something – how is it different from running normally?
Nova slides down the leafy bank near our stick classroom. Not only is she clearing the path for herself, but she started a trend that lead to many kids going up and down over and over and over again.
Running down the hill seems to be a favourite game. The children never seem to tire of going up and running down, encouraging each other and high-fiving, as this group is, when they reach the bottom. Gemma goes fast and balances over the gravelly path towards them!
Fishing is both imaginative and experiential. Oh, and fun! Looks like Maeve has a good catch!
Deeper creative and imaginative play come out of looking at materials differently, maybe even becoming bored with them, and then coming of with various things they could be or be used for. Here, Poppy has a lunch she’s made to share with everyone out of neatly stacked bark.
Kaya sits safely by the ponds edge, jabbing at the ice.
Ice breaking beneath your boots – who can resist? The sensation, sound and satisfaction of this winter joy are undeniable.
Exploring playdoh – there are so many ways to manipulate this substance. Sometimes it is sensory play other time trying to imitate designs in nature!
Whether the weather is rainy, icy or bright and sunny, we have to be prepared! The children are learning how to take care of their bodies – doing jumping jacks, running or playing to keep warm, sometimes holding a hot water bottle, and using good gear. This is s learning process for all of us as we figure out what works best.
It may look bright in this photo but it was another cold day and Poppy warmed her hands on a bottle full of hot water.
Everyone can enjoy the rain if they are dressed for it like these Seeds are. Look at Finnigan’s laugh!
Running up and down the hill is a great way to keep warm and get blood pumping.
Fin’s glove choice lets him hold this great big chunk of ice. He said “This one is so curious!” of other he said they remind him of an ice skate.
Two screech owls and two volunteers from MARS (Mountainaire Aviation Rescue Society) visited our classroom. We had the lucky chance to get up close and personal with these two creatures that you would likely never see in the wild, because they blend in so well!
A rich opportunity to see a live screech up close is enjoyed by Amelia, Poppy and Kaya.
We learned a lot about Screech owls, their feeding habits, that they are diurnal, how to help protect owls and other birds, why these owls were raised at MARS and more.
Screech owls blend in with their surroundings, they camouflage especially well with Douglas Fir trees.
Here is our Seeds group, the educators Heather and Alix and our 4 special guests from MARS! These special visits help us build a deeper understanding and connection to our human and animal community.
We extended the owl study by drawing them, and creating them with cut outs of paper for feathers and colouring in with pencil crayons. How is it like / unlike the screech owls we met?
Owls of many colours!
“The Owl goes to the Ball” is a story that everyone participates in. The kids ‘took’ a feather from many other birds, and added them to the owl to make his speckled coat.
Freezing temperatures lead to frost and ice for almost two weeks! This drastically modified the natural surroundings and how we engaged with it. Here are some experiments and explorations we did to understand different states of water.
Below our boots the leaves crunched… this time it was from frost! It sparkled in the sun and caught our imaginations.
After one of Roots slipped in the frosty water, we decided to have a group discussion about safety around the pond’s edge. Everyone was very receptive and had great ideas on how to stay safe and out of the icy water. Some suggested getting longer sticks to hit the ice with while others said we could sit instead of standing. We also decided as a group to stand back a ways, enough so we couldn’t slip in. This kind of guided discussion on safety guidelines lets children take safety and agency for their well being into their own hands. They are also more like to remember and abide by it if they’ve made it up themselves!
Here’s Gemma and Amelia trying out our new safety around water edge guidelines. Long sticks and sitting down!
Iris looks on as Poppy peers into the ice art we’ve made.
The next frosty day, the ice was much thicker and harder to break. We discussed the water underneath, the temperature and the sticks from last day stuck in the ice and how all of these phenomena occurred.
Nova proclaimed about her piece that “It has bubbles! It’s beautiful”
On tuesday we filled buckets with water, added leaves and other objects, and on Thursday we found nearly solid blocks of ice! They created a bowl-like shape and we’re a great jumping off point for talking about how water turns to ice.
After discovering the change from water to ice block, they then became something to chip away at with good sturdy sticks!
What makes his piece special? Tori like his ice chunks so much he wanted to take them home. We talked about what might happen to them in our back packs…
To uncover another factor in ice melting, we used a brick of ice, sprinkled it with coarse salt, and scooped a little water colour paint onto it to see what was happening to the ice. We discovered that the salt was melting it and creating divots and tunnels through the brick for the paint to run through.