Snow fluttering everywhere, like crystal butterflies, turning the landscape into a winter wonderland. Like the first day with a treasured new toy, we just couldn’t get enough of it. Creating art, tracking, sliding, pushing, building, throwing, making and breaking, the snow kept us busy together and full of laughter. Ask about your child’s favourite part of our snowplay time. What art piece did we create with our snowplow feet this morning? What decoration did our friend Wolf add at the top, and what did you add? Why do we shake hands with tree branches layered with deep snow?
Tobogganing just has to be a section on its own. Raspberry Hill is a great spot to slide over the fall pine needles, soft landing too! Target practice and giant snowball rolling is our new Olympic sport.
Tracks crisscrossed the trail, giving clues of some critter coming or going. Where did these trails lead? It was a forest mystery which takes some guessing and skill to figure out. We looked at track outlines on paper and compared these to prints in the snow. Squirrel (Elliot) tricked us by walking backwards so his boot tracks looked like they were going in the wrong direction. Animals can be tricky too. Chat about the kinds of tracks we looked at, what shape are they and how might they change if the animal is running quickly away from a predator.
We followed deer tracks to the woods. Why do they go there when frightened? There was a hunting stand nearby at the edge of the field. Why are hunters using this spot and what are they hoping to hunt?
Frog used his fingers to see if this mark in the snow matched our description of a deer track. We all put our heads together to figure this out! Tracking is exciting and sparks questions about animals lives in the wild. Where are they hiding, what are they eating, who is chasing them?
We hiked to a tree nursery where we found some trees that we recognized. Travelling to new wild spaces offers chances to make connections with our background knowledge. What trees did we meet (white pine, spruce, tamarack)? Underneath the snowy lower branches of trees there is a dry and warm sheltering place. We talked about these being ‘microclimates’ which animals count on to get out of the cold and feel protected. We tucked under some trees to find out how protected it feels.
Our read aloud story today was about animals that we might see in the snow. Clues like sumac berries scattered on the ground, leaves bunched together in trees, or a pellet pressed together with bones inside, are clues to who’s been here. What animals were part of this story and what clues did they leave for the children in the book to find?
Parents have a clue to what we did at lunch. Do you smell a trace of smoke? We built our very first campfire at Pine Haven and it was a fiery fun experience. Talk about how we started the fire and what we said to keep the smoke away.
Back at the farm, we cozied up in the Curiousity Cabin for some journal writing about the tracks we learned today. We added at least one detail about the animal and may have included a special window with some more information about habitat or a sketch. Check out this journal entry. What other tracks do you know?
Our tree friends are wearing new white fluffy coats today, but we still recognize them. Each of us chose a neighbouring tree which is different from our own tree friend. This neighbour will be part of our expanding tree literacy as we learn more about its special features.
The chickens were happy to get some extra food in the colder weather. Even Bubbles got close to taking food from an outstretched cup. Our new book “Chickenology” has some very interesting facts. Ask your child if they learned new things about chickens.
Our big boy Jester got brushed and a couple stalls were mucked in the horse barn. Scarlett was in a stall too as she is lame right now. We gave her pats to cheer her up. Some keen helpers mixed up mash for Percy and Sable, adding hay cubes, pellets, grain, oil and treats. Add water and in a couple hours you have a nice porridge. Thanks for helping with this task.
The hayloft is our own microclimate; warm, dusty and so much FUN! Egos are BIG in this space; jumps are super high, leaps are huge, voices loud and spirits boisterous. We wondered what happens as the horses eat through our gym equipment:).
In all aspects of our day we find opportunities for learning. This morning one such moment happened right off the bat as we checked in. The task - find the biggest feather you can to bring to circle. We gathered with our feathers, talked about how we were feeling and displayed our feathers in the middle. Afterwards we moved them into order from longest to shortest. Discovering some were very close to the same length, we talked about ways we could measure without tools (non-standard units of measure). Finger lengths, smaller feather lengths were suggested, then we compared two children’s heights back to back. This was a model for comparing the feathers. Nature school gifts us these opportunities all the time, and much of the learning is on the school menu. So, if you wonder what substance your child gets in academic knowledge and skills, know that this happens seamlessly throughout our BIG days in the great outdoors!
Thanks so much to Firefly (Ang) who came along to help today. She spotted this guy and our own Raccoon (Gord) snapped a great photo.
Happy trails until next week Forest Friends:)