March Break Discovery Program at Harrington was supposed to focus on “Celebrating Spring" but the only thing missing was SPRING! What do you notice or feel when you think about spring? Some comments from kids were flowers, grass, leaves, flocks of geese, sun/warmth, rain, bunnies and sap. We were able to check a few things off this list but we decided it doesn’t look or feel like spring yet.
Developing compass and map reading skills are important. Even though some of the kids were new to Harrington, we could learn about places like Harrington by looking at maps. We looked at some maps and tried to imagine what it might be like to visit somewhere new like Disney World or Niagara Falls. We used a compass to learn the cardinal directions. Does your child remember what they are? Coyote Nature School’s map of Harrington showed us some of the interesting places we would travel over the two days. Does your child recall one of the special location names? What did we do at that location?
Another way to understand the world around you is to use your senses. Our senses can tell us a lot about the world right in front of us. We did a lot of looking around and challenging each other to find the smallest, most camouflaged things. “Jay Jay”, Tamarack said as she pointed up. “Jay Jay” means there is something exciting to see and we can point at it so we can share our sighting with others. At that point, everyone saw a Bald Eagle as it soared just above the treetops and right over our heads. A real 'wow' moment!
We heard cardinals and blue jays while we were in Mystery Forest. By listening carefully, we can learn where sounds are coming from and then we can make a natural connection between what we hear and what we see. We smelled cedar, pine, lavender and also smoke. It turns out that one of the nearby houses had a wood burning stove or fireplace and smoke was coming out their chimney. Although we had gloves on our hands, we took them out to do the touch challenge. Most of the kids had no trouble figuring out what was in the sock covered container (everything except the feather was a part of a plant and nothing was going to jump out). There was only one thing we tasted from the forest and that was sap from a maple tree. We were mindful not to eat anything in the forest unless an adult has said it’s okay. How did the sap taste to your child? Our sap was frozen today and the sap wasn’t running. When does the sap ‘run’?
Animals are active at Harrington! We saw tracks everywhere we went. Animals live over and under the snow. We spent some time learning about the white-tailed deer. They can make a bed in the snow to keep warm. Deer also rub trees to leave a scent and to mark their territories. We dug a deer bed into the snow and also marked some trees with some special scent spray bottles. Birds are also easy to hear and see in winter. We noticed the bird feeder was low in food so we topped it up and then called with bird calls and waited for birds to come. No birds came at that time but after lunch when we walked outside there were almost twenty birds at the feeder, some on the ground eating up what we had fallen in the snow. Fox and bunny activities were fun to play too. We had dens to scurry to and from and predators like foxes on the run. “Jay Jay”, Danika came across an area full of bunny tracks and scat. It was great to make another natural connection.
We are so lucky to have some beautiful indoor spaces to have fun and learn. Ask your child about some of the activities that happened inside the Harrington Hall and Grist Mill.
We celebrated the end of winter which by the way officially ends on March 20, 2023 (the first day of spring) by making some desserts and party drinks (all out of natural materials; plus a little food colouring and some lovely pine smell). Brooke made a special “Palm Tree Delight” which was lovely! Other kids came up with special names for their creations. See if you can get a description along with the special recipe followed to create it.
We also tobogganed down Sunrise Hill, played new games and made new friends. Enjoy the stories of this new experience at nature school. A special thanks to Hawk, Tamarack, Racoon and Coyote for their help in making the days fabulous. What a great two days!!
There is nothing quite like being outdoors in winter. Happy trails until next time Forest Friends:)