Spring has Sprung!

Spring has sprung in the forest! The birds have been singing with us every morning and the children have been eager to learn about them. To start our explorations about birds we just started to help the children pay attention and wonder about them. We created an exploration box with objects representing birds and explored these objects for many mornings at our forest circle meeting while also recording the children’s questions and ponderings.

Every morning birds emerged in some area of our morning, and the children started to become very interested in the colours of birds. They started to engage with Robert Batemans book “Backyard Birds”. Every day at the painting station Robert Batemans book was set up beside the paint and children created beautiful paintings of birds. Next week we will visit the Robert Bateman art gallery to explore his bird paintings.

We took the children’s questions and created a wall of their questions/wonderings. We called this our “Wonder Wall”, an idea we got when visiting some very engaging classrooms in Vancouver recently.

To answer our questions about birds we started to make a bird wall in the classroom. In the forest the children started their research by putting sticky notes on the pages of bird books where they found something they wanted to learn about. Lisa would then read that page to them, than they drew what they learned from their research. These were then placed our bird wall in the classroom. In another group in the forest the children started to create a big book about what they were learning about birds. They made many pages including a title page, types of birds, bird food, predator/prey and nests.

The children have been working to answer their questions from the wonder wall and move it to our bird wall. They have used each other, books, observations, people at home, TV shows and theory making to start to answer their bird questions.


Here are some examples of their questions:

Why is the raven all black? So its predators cannot find it

Why do birds have webbed feet? To help them swim.

Why does the eagle have a sharp beak? So it can rip its food apart. It has a curve on it.

How are birds able to fly? They have hollow bones.

(Written by Erin Van Stone, Nature K ECE)2014-03-11 13.50.15

Growing Knowledge Symposium – Registration is OPEN

We hope you will join us for the Growing Knowledge – Sharing and Building on Learning Outdoors in the Early Years Symposium on Saturday June 14 2014 at Royal Roads University in Victoria BC.

Keynote – Dr. Louise Chawla

8:30 am to 3 pm

Cost – $100 (includes lunch)

Please follow this link for more information and to register …


Save the Date – Saturday, June 14th, 2014 – Symposium

We hope you will join us for a unique symposium and day of learning!


Growing Knowledge - Sharing and Building on Learning Outdoors in the Early Years (3 to 8)

Royal Roads University, Victoria, BC, Canada

Saturday, June 14th, 2014


More information and details coming soon.




Goldstream Gazette Article “Nature Kindergarten shows signs of success”

Follow this link to read a recent story about Year 1 Nature Kindergarten students who are now in Grade 1.


Ship Building

Ship Building!


We have been reading lots of pirate books and the kids have started to play pirates both at the beach and at our site. After reading a “Matthew and the Pirates” book, we brainstormed some ideas of what pirate ships look like and then split into groups to start the building process. The kids looked at some pirate books and made plans on their clip boards. Their ships had to fit every member of their team!

They started building their ships and the next day their big buddy class came out to help finish them. Soon the ships started to take shape; there were canoes, planks, walls, decks, masts, sails, crows’ nests, rooms for gold and of course treasure chests. Since then, there has been an explosion of pirate play!


Building Boats that Will Float!


To expand on their pirate ship play, we went down to Bee Creek and on the way collected things that may sink or float. While experimenting one child figured out that the rocks sink if you put it in the water, but you can make it float by placing the rock on a large piece of bark! We learned that sticks, bark, and leaves float and that rocks and some fir cones sink.


They next day we brought some clay, dried leaves and elastics out with us into the woods. The children built small boats.  Then, the next day we brought them down to Bee Creek, did some predicting as to what would happen and then we sailed them. 


Children’s Comments:


-Ours flipped over when it didn’t have a sail. Then we put a sail on it and it floated

-As soon as I put it in the water it flipped over.

-The bottom of mine was too small. It doesn’t have enough wideness.

-Some are flat and some are not.


We decided to build the boats again the next week to see if we could use our knowledge of what worked and what didn’t work and refine them…

(Written by NShip Buildingature Kindergarten ECE Erin Van Stone)

Nature Kindergarten Registration for 2014/15 Complete

Earlier this week, the Sooke School District accepted registrations for the 2014/15 Nature Kindergarten class.  Please follow this link for a Times Colonist news story related to the registration process.


Nature Kindergarten ECE substitutes NEEDED

Sooke School District is currently accepting applications from qualified early childhood educators interested in substituting in our Nature Kindergarten.  Please visit the Sooke School District website – www.sd62.bc.ca – for more information.  Follow the “employment” link.


Training Opportunity in Vancouver Area

Fresh Air Learning Training Opportunity …

March 2014 Weekend Workshop
Our first forest school training weekend was a great success! If you missed it, we’ll be running another the weekend of March 8th and 9th. The course runs from 9 am to 3 pm in Lynn Canyon Park. Click here to register <https://www.eventbrite.ca/event/8608764045> , or email us at prod@freshairlearning.org to learn more or to pay by cheque.
What You’ll Learn
The weekend will be a combination of theory and practice. Learn how the philosophy of forest school is different from other outdoor learning, and learn techniques for guiding children without teacher-led activities. We’ll also spend time outdoors, playing and learning in the park, and you’ll come back with hands-on ideas to incorporate into your own program.

On Sunday morning, we’ll also learn about Coyote Mentoring with our guest instructors from Soaring Eagle Nature School. This workshop is designed to give mentors and educators tools for authentic and meaningful connections with their students.  Participants will actively engage in and learn different ways of interacting with people, ecosystems, mentors and children.  In each student and mentor, coyote mentoring develops the capacity for learning, problem solving and genuine expression and awakens a natural sense of wonder.

Your Teachers
Fresh Air Learning
Lisa Howey-Louter
: Lisa is a passionate outdoorsperson and the founding teacher responsible for shaping Fresh Air Learning’s programs in North Vancouver. She is an early childhood educator.

Tricia Edgar: Tricia is an outdoor educator with 17 years of experience playing outdoors with children. She has a background in ecology, permaculture, restoration, and curriculum development, and she is one of the founders of Fresh Air Learning.

Soaring Eagle Nature School
Jenna Rudolph
: Jenna is the co-founder of Soaring Eagle Nature School. She is a herbalist, wildlife tracker and nature mentor. She is deeply connected to the 8 Shields Model of mentoring, along with Coyote Mentoring.

Allison Prime: Allison is an instructor at Soaring Eagle Nature School. She is a passionate educator, facilitator, mentor and wilderness guide. Her familiarity with facilitation and coyote mentoring allows for deeper connection to her surroundings and the people she works with.

Parent Information Sessions for 2014/15 Class

In order to receive an application form for next year’s Nature Kindergarten class, parents are encouraged to attend one of the following Parent Information Sessions at Sangster Elementary School.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014 at 6:30 PM

Saturday, January 18, 2014 at 10:00 AM

Perspective students need to live in the Sooke School District catchment area.

Learning from Community

Learning from community membersWe have had many special guests and events at Nature Kindergarten in the last few weeks! We would like to thank the Francis King Park staff for letting us come and learn all about squirrels as well as explore your forest! We learned so much from you about squirrels and have been sharing this knowledge with others!

We also would like to thank Earl and John who came to our forest to teach us about the many uses of cedar trees! This is a very special kind for tree to our class, so thank you for sharing how important it is to you as well. The oral stories you told us about how trees were created definitely sparked the children’s interest in storytelling. You also taught us ways we can be caretakers of our forest, so thank you for joining us and being part of our class community.

We have been fascinated with mushrooms as we see so many in the forest every day.  Juliet and James who are mushroom experts came to join our class for the morning and taught us about the mushrooms we have been finding! We learned that some mushrooms have gills and some have teeth! We also learned about what mushrooms can be used for! Did you know that there is a mushroom that can eat a Springtail?

We also have a big buddy class this year that occasionally comes out into the forest with us! On the last day they joined us in the forest, we created our names out of nature! The best part about our buddy class joining us out in the forest is how much we can teach each other!

A big thank you as well to Shirley Alphonse! Shirley is a First Nations Elder who works in our district and recently she was able to come and blessing the forest for us and teach us a little SENCOTEN. We are thrilled to learn more from you and have you as part of our class.

Last week we also had Jeff a drummer, teach the children a canoe welcome song. All the children got the opportunity to drum and join in on the songs. Having passionate experts from our community come and be part of our class and teach the children is a very important part of this program. We feel very fortunate that so many enthusiastic community members are willing to come and share all that they know.

Written by Nature Kindergarten ECE, Erin Van Stone