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 – – 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 <> , or email us at 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



Future of Nature Kindergarten in Sooke SD

The following message is from Assistant Superintendent, Roberta Kubik:

After a successful pilot of Nature Kindergarten at Sangster Elementary, the Board of Education at School District 62 is continuing its support of the program into the 2014/2015 school year.

Using the forests and lands of neighbouring Royal Roads University, the students spend the mornings outside, rain or shine, learning the Kindergarten curriculum in the forest and among wildlife.

The District will be exploring opening one or two new Nature Kindergarten classes in September 2015. The District is also interested in exploring ways to expand the learnings of Nature Kindergarten to other grade levels.




Outdoor Learning in Manitoba

Last month, enid and I were fortunate enough to travel to Winnipeg, Manitoba to present a workshop to over 200 educators from around the province.  The workshop was supported by the Ministry of Education, and invited early childhood educators, administrators, teachers, and school board trustees to spend the day learning about our Nature Kindergarten experience in the Sooke School District.  We also had an opportunity to collect information from the participants and get a sense of the outdoor learning programs and initiatives they were engaged in.  The enthusiasm for moving learning into nature was inspiring!

While in Winnipeg, we had a chance to visit the Discovery Children’s Centre.  This daycare facility, not far from downtown Winnipeg, offers a variety of outdoor experiences for it’s participants.  The photos below will give you a feel for some of the outdoor learning spaces …Play Area Canoe to Play InOutdoor Play Shelter

Newspaper article “The problem with education? Children aren’t feral enough”

Please follow this link to read this Guardian newspaper article …

Literacy in the Forest

“I found a T, I found a T!” a child called as he ran through the bush towards us. He held up a stick shaped like a T.

“What starts with T?” We asked him.

“T-t-t-t-tree!” he called then he drew many T’s in the dirt joined by a few friends.

“Train and today” another child called as we continued down the path.

“Trap, turtle!” a child called from the back of the group.


A short distance down the path we gathered together and made a circle. It was an impromptu story time, but this time the children were the authors of the story. “Let’s make it a T story” a child suggested.

The special helper started us off holding the talking stick so everyone knew it was her turn. “Once upon a time there was a tree”.

 The next child picked up the stick paused, then said “It was tall and talking” they then passed on the stick.

“It was as tall as (pause) like a (pause) train” the next child said.

Each child contributed to the story and the story grew…

The tree, it was a trap!

It was a trap for bears.

The raven was tricking the bears and theywere going to have a party.

They decorated the table to trick the bear.

The bear came home to the table but it was too small. He said who has been sitting on my table!

Surprise! Yelled the tree!

They all played together.

The end.

“That was a really silly story” one child said as we got up to continue walking. “Really silly” another added. Later a child found an N shaped stick. “What letter is this” he asked. “It is the one that makes the nnnnnnn sound” he said with his arms held out like an airplane. “It is an N” another child said. How do you draw the N again?” He asked. Together he  then drew many N’s on both his nature detective book and in the dirt. 

Written by Erin Van Stone (Nature Kindergarten ECE)2013-11-21 10.06.15