Today we took some time to slow down, pause and reflect on the gifts of nature while in the setting of Mill Pond Conservation Area. We can appreciate nature and practice gratitude by looking for our connections to the environment through snow, wind and trees. What is one thing that brings your child gratitude when they think about trees?
In Mystery Forest, we looked for the twelve trees of Christmas. We had a little competition between team Blixen and team Rudolf. Team Blixen won with their quick reflexes and recall of tree species names. Can your child recall the names of these 12 trees? While in the forest, there was creative play in the new Sunshine Bakery. It opened up today because Wolf's Wizard Shop was closed. Games were also dreamed up using only natural items found in the forest. Larch constructed a bow with some string he found. Arrows were tested through trial and error until the 'just right' stick was landed on. That's the joy of learning with our hands and creative minds, giving sufficient time to work through to the best solution.
We finished the morning by giving back to the forest. Decorating the tent shelter we had fixed up last week was fun. Wreaths were made using cedar and willow branches. Ornaments of burdock burrs and other natural materials were hung inside and outside. Some clay was used to make bowls and small vases to hold food for any animals that may come by. What did your child make? What natural materials did they use? Hopefully this will open eyes to all the possibilities of what might be fun to create in your own backyard.
Library today was all about crafting. We can't really reveal what we made as they might be for gifts. You can ask your child about the smell, texture and design they chose for these two crafts. A huge shout out of thanks to the best librarian in the county, Grey Squirrel (Kathy Eastman), who makes each visit magical.
Off to Santas workshop! According to Larch, the elves in Santas workshop should be on strike right now, or at least work to rule. Apparently they have no rights, so we made sure OUR little elves were extremely happy and content (just so you know:). Tamarack and I were both very impressed with how well your child did with a brand new activity. After doing a test run on these crafts at home ourselves, we feel humbled by the superior talents in our group!
Camouflage is a game with many facets. Ask your child about their hiding spots and how successful they were at staying hidden. Despite challenges that Red Fox faced wearing bright pink clothing, she was able to evade the owl at least once. It's amazing to see the smart hiding places kids find and how they manage to stay quietly hidden as the owl hunts for them. This activity builds excitement in children, providing an understanding of how animals must feel in predator-prey situations. It also builds up a comfort level with being alone and still in nature, giving children a chance to practice in a game situation before being asked to sit for longer periods on their own for reflection time.
Your child will bring home a story lace. This gives them a tool to recall all the learning and experiences they are grateful for from fall season at nature school. Ask for a walk-through on this story lace, and listen carefully to the feelings behind each one. If you prompt with some questions, I'm sure you'll gather more colourful versions with loads of interesting detail. Journals can be used at home over the holidays to record outdoor adventures and be brought back in the new year.
It is with a deep sense of joy and gratitude that we thank you, our parent group, for your wonderful preparedness, support and enthusiasm for this program. You have brought us your very best and brightest, and we hope that we've offered your child a gift for their future. Like Albert Einstein said; Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better. We see that wonder grows outdoors. It’s their portal to the wider world. Let's keep it open! Happy Christmas and new year to all. The pond will be waiting for more joyful adventures for our forest friends in 2024!