What happens when you suddenly take notice of something in nature that changes the way you view everything? An epiphany right!!! We now know trees that stay green are not all the same; their needles, branches, cones, and bark have special features. Now we can pick a familiar face (tree) out of a crowd of strangers (forest). Take a walk with your child, see if they know what trees are coniferous and deciduous. Can they name a few trees with needles? How are they different, do they know some of their names? These kids will never walk a woodland path without looking for details and running through a menu of species names. Powerful stuff!!!
Our day was all about trees with loads of other learning around this theme. Ask your child about the letters found on pumpkins this morning. How did we figure out the words, clap out the sounds and spell those two COMPLEX words. You’ll notice this is review and will help solidify your child's understanding of the two different worlds of trees. Learning at nature school is circular, we come back to concepts as the seasons change to check in with understanding and build a stronger connection (relationship) to the concept.
Tree friends are always noteworthy. We created a ‘mini tree friend’ (Bunny’s take on this) out of beads, as we took an up-close look for changes or cool parts of our trees. Is your child’s tree friend coniferous or deciduous? What did they notice today…is it changing? Some leaves are not changing colour which puzzled us. What could this mean? Use science to explain this.
It was fun finding our hiking partner using popsicle sticks. We were looking for six different species of coniferous trees around the farm. Which ones seemed to be the most common (White Pine, White Cedar) and what did we need to collect from each one?
Raccoon thought the hike to the Backwoods went quickly along the north trail when we didn’t stop at Pine Haven to rest. We had very determined hikers with backpacks all snugged down with fitted straps. The goal of our collection of needles became clear as we reached the Backwoods' lookoff. It’s a beautiful wide view of colourful deciduous trees. In an interesting twist we used our conifer needles in twig handles to paint this brilliant fall scene. Our art boards were old Cedar shingles taken off the farmhouse and painted with chalkboard black. Acorn said that it was pretty cool to use all natural stuff to make pictures. Ask about the experience of using a conifer bristles; how did these natural brushes feel and work for painting on wood? Could you do this at home? What will we use this art work for around the farm?
Even Rosie got involved with the painting:)
Lunch together on our new picnic blanket was simply divine with everyone chattering and munching in peaceful harmony. Wander time followed with loads of action, different partnerships and dedication to mighty tasks.
We decided on a full group hayloft playtime after our big hike back. Lots of daredevil jumps! What is the best place to jump safely? Managing risks needs practice in childhood so adulthood is not fraught with bigger mishaps.
Story stones are something you may want to try at home. Each person gets a small smooth stone and adds a picture of one thing; it can be an animal, plant, element (wind, rain, snow), or object. These are added to a story stone box and chosen one at a time around the circle with each child adding one line to our evolving story. We are using these stones again next week to create a completely new story line. This activity led into our seedling group creating a mini-storybook about their tree. You will find it in backpacks. Have them read (tell) this to you. What adventures has their tree friend encountered while in the outdoor world?
Our Saplings added a final tree to their field guide, a coniferous choice. What did they add? Can you get some details about the features of this tree (bark, needles, flowers). This guide will come home next week, and hopefully will get new pages added with other species of trees and plants. Using field guides is a skill, and we worked singly and in partners to find the most important facts we wanted to add. Field guides….a GREAT Christmas gift or nature schoolers.
For our final hour we did our flip flop from last week. Watercolour artists or equine handlers were the two choices. Ask for a story about what your child did at this closing of our day.
It was a diverse range of stars (favourite things) shared at closing circle with wishes for more horse time and a hike through the crop field to the baby tree nursery next week. We are crossing our fingers that the soybeans are harvested and we can amble over to this sweet spot. We say so long to Daisy as she heads to warmer climes for the next month. Osprey, Raccoon and Coyote will welcome you next time. Happy trails until next week Forest Friends:).