We join together in a circle of peace with grateful hearts. This is how we greet the new nature school day after some raucous play around the homestead. Then gratitude rings out in our song morning, When I Rise. It just seemed fitting that the sun was peeking through high clouds with horse munching hay along the fence line. This does seem like the perfect setting to gain perspective on our place in the wide world of all living things. Here's the day through our eyes.
We were also celebrating a soon-to-be birthday. Who is turning 9 tomorrow, and what life events were part of their life cycle so far. My personal fav, is this young man’s first word. What was it? (garage). This is easily explained if you know that his dad owns the Ford dealership in St Marys:).
Taking on animal forms makes us feel the wildness of being alive in the forest and gives a deep appreciation of the closeness of danger and skills necessary to avoid it. Great Horned Owl’s are now laying eggs (yes in February!) and must keep sharp so that eggs aren’t stolen by wily raccoons. Once the nest is made, owl’s roost and raccoons begin to circle. Check in about strategies and successes in this game of real life danger.
It is a safe bet for us to say that your child stretched their powers of visual perception today. Ask about the observation station. What objects that did not belong in nature were placed in the meadow? Were they difficult to see, why? What about the second time? Was it easier to spy them in their new places? Skills of observation really improve throughout a year at nature school. Notice how this shines through on your next family hike.
An animal can leave things behind and these are the signs that can tell us a story. Looking for signs of rabbits begins with searching on the ground along the sides of the trail for tracks, fur, nipped branches and scat. The Scat Rap is one way of remembering new words or vocabulary like the word ‘scat’. Does your child remember the Scat Rap?
As a group, we also came up with some actions to help us remember one of the facts about rabbits. Another new word today was ‘crepuscular’. That’s a four syllable word and we had fun saying crepuscular and learning about what it means. Ask your child the meaning of this word? Another fact about rabbits, we tried to remember, we decided to build houses for all the kittens that would be born in one year from one mom. Does your child remember this really big number, or maybe how many kittens are born at one time? Singing songs, tactile activities and movement are all helpful ways of remembering and also having fun.
Wander time in the Backwoods was filled with imaginary fishing by the water, looking for fossils, talking with friends and a play hunting activity. Everyone enjoyed the warmth of the sun and exploring outside in the Backwoods.
On the way back we took the path less travelled, giving kids choices of where to roam. Was there anything interesting your child saw on their journey? It was surprising how much snow was still on the field. They might have passed a deer bed or saw some rabbit tracks. It was also surprising to see that some younger ‘seedlings’ (as we named the younger group of children) took up the challenge of leading others on the way back to Pine Haven.
Thanks to Chickadee, ‘little’ Racoon and Daisy for taking the time out to chop, pour and mix up some apple cider. Now this just wasn’t a flavoured mix that you buy and mix with hot water. Apples, maple syrup, cinnamon sticks and water were put in a pot and then put on a fire. Rose, Turtle, Blue Jay were ‘Fans of the Fire’, they helped to keep the flames going and to watch the cider while it was cooking. We could see and smell the smoke of the fire and were wondering when the cider would be done. Instead of just announcing a time and putting on a timer, we began to watch. Bubbles started forming on the outside of the pot. The pot got a little black because of the flames and then we saw bubbles forming on the apples. Finally bubbles coming up in the water around the apples and with that we could see steam. What did your child think of the hot apple cider? The group saw to it that nothing was wasted and even the apples were eaten in the end.
With the sun still shining, we headed back to the barn to continue to work on outdoor skills and use our creativity by doing some whittling and creating with clay. Creating with clay is fun. It feels nice and you can shape it into whatever you want. We made rabbits out of clay and natural objects found on the ground at the farm. The children had to find two natural objects like maple keys to be the ears and 6 very small natural objects to be the whiskers. What natural objects did your child collect and use for their rabbit?
Our whittling journey teaches that taking time on a project bears amazing results. Even Rosie is impressed with all this effort, patience and attention to safety.
We welcome a new face today, Heron (Stef Swift), who is coming to learn the ways of nature school in preparation for opening her own in London. We love mentoring others to grow this movement that is gaining momentum everywhere.
Doctors are now writing prescriptions for time in nature. Our parents are well ahead of the curve in knowing an essential part of child development is connecting to the natural world. We heartily endorse leaping over creeks, building secret hideaways, climbing big trees, creating homes for Woolly Bears, and just hangin' with buddies in the great outdoors. Happy times until next week:).