Wow! There have been so many amazing learning and exploring opportunities recently, it’s tough to decide what to report from the forest this week! Our new site has definitely become a favorite for us. It is a perfect walking distance and the children have created slides, swings, jungle gyms, climbing areas and even catapults! This week the children had the opportunity to show John Abbott, their Nature Kindergarten outdoor classroom! John Abbott is a UK presenter on education and is the president of the Century Learning Initiative which is an initiative that focuses on new approaches to learning. The children shared with him their favorite climbing spot and slide. He stayed for a snack and a story, and the children shared their favorite parts about learning in the forest.
This past week to get to know the trees in our forest better, each child picked a tree to interview! Equipped with a clip board and pencil the children asked their trees questions such as: How old are you? How tall are you? What type of tree are you? What types of animals live in you? What kinds of bugs like you? They recorded the answers in the form of letters and drawing on their paper. When they were done their interview, they drew a picture of their tree. I even over heard one child ask their tree “Tree, does this look like you?” The children are expert tree identifiers! They know most the plants and trees we see on our walk down. They have learned about Fir, Maple, Oak, Cedar, and Hemlock trees, and are learning how many of the trees we see are evergreen. They love to observe the changes in many plants. Currently, the children have noticed that the Oregon Grape plants, Daphne, Horse Tail, and Skunk Cabbage are changing the most.
On Friday, we talked lots about the significance of Remembrance Day and we had our whole school Remembrance Day assembly. That day we also read a book about fairy houses and the children worked in collaboration to build fairy houses for the animals of the forest. The children learned that fairies want you to only use natural materials to create the houses and they work best at the base of a tree. Going with the theme of Remembrance Day, the children created houses, as well as a hospital for soldiers.
The children have a huge interest in letters and letter sounds recently. You can see their interest in all aspects of their play such as spontaneously making letters with their bodies, writing messages on the trail, writing letters in their nature detective books, sounding out nature words, finding letters in nature and practicing their letter sounds by creating silly stories.
One of the biggest successes we have found is the community that has been created within our class. The children are so caring, and take care of each other. They are constantly negotiating and working in collaboration to create and explore. The team work shines through when they are building, gathering sticks, counting and carrying stick heavy rocks. It is a common sight to see children breaking their sticks in half for another child who doesn’t have one. Helping a friend who has tripped or who is feeling unsure happens without a thought. Children encouraging each other and asking a friend for help is second nature now. It is such as great feeling to have children who are such great caretakers of the group and nature.
(Prepared by Nature K ECE, Erin Van Stone)