While this week didn’t start off as sunny as we would have liked, the warmer temperatures made for a lovely week. And we did see some of that sun shine down on us, especially towards the end of the week. Our skating rink of a field is rapidly shrinking, which we couldn’t be happier about. The ice on the paths is dwindling as well. The mercury is still dropping low enough over night to re-freeze some of the shadier areas but we’re hopeful that soon enough, the ice and snow will be all gone and MUD season will begin in earnest.
This week, the children spent some time re-learning and honing their skills with a long time favourite game. “Cougar stalks deer” is always a lot of fun for the children to play. It takes a lot of concentration and focus to move slowly enough as the cougar to avoid spooking the grazing deer. We discuss what the word stalking means, and why such a big animal can be so quiet (hint: it’s all about their paws). We also discuss how the cougar’s coat acts as very good camouflage, so when the deer turns to look, as long as the cougar stays perfectly still, he can’t be seen. Our little cougars worked very hard at being stealthy this week. The deer, on the other hand, had the opportunity to practice patience and experience the thrill and a tiny bit of the fear of being hunted. It was a topic of concern from some of the children who chose not to take a turn as the deer this week. It’s really scary to be hunted, even if it’s just a game!
This week was week 9 and marked our last week at our current play sites. The melting snow and rapidly drying forest also marked this week as our last week practicing fires as well. Our play sites have changed a lot in these last three weeks. Going from mostly or completely snow covered to completely bare, or much less snowy at least. This week saw a lot of imaginative play happening among the children. Their comfort with the play sites and with outdoor preschool itself has grown to allow for them to spend a little less time in exploring the sites and more time in engaging and manipulating their surroundings to suit their narratives. And changing their narratives to suit their surroundings as well. Some favourite climbing trees became vehicles: cars and trucks and airplanes. They needed repairs and gas and propelled a multi-day narrative for several children.
With the snow retreating and the ground thawing, we also saw a lot of children engaging with the mud kitchen this week. Mud pies, birthday cake, and soup were much in evidence around our play sites. The creek is also beginning to attract more attention, as the weather warms up and some wet hands aren’t such an unpleasant thought. It’s very nearly time to switch out snow pants for rain pants!
This last week of February gave us quite a show. We had a little bit of every kind of weather you might ask for at this time of year. Snowy and wintery, sunny and mild and a few days right in between the two. I wonder what this first week of March will bring? The forecast is calling for lots of mild spring weather in our future. Let’s cross our fingers and hope it hold’s true!
This week the children continued to explore their play sites. With the warmer weather, our snowy sliding hill has turned into a muddy digging hill. There’s still some snow tucked into the shade at the bottom but this week brought the mud. Some of the children enjoyed sliding and climbing through it. Others brought out the shovels and started digging. They even found a very sleepy worm! They were very excited to wake him up and show him off to everyone else. Luckily, these children are also very careful and considerate and made sure to put the worm back where they found him before we packed up for the day. Some of the other children spent their morning with Krystal, engaging in more lessons on fire building and fire safety. Miss Krystal brought a special new tool that the children were all eager to try out. It was a flint and striker, a tool that creates sparks to light the fire without a lighter or matches. The children were all able to take a turn trying to use the new tool. It requires quite a lot of different skills: strong fine motor skills, well-developed hand and eye coordination, and the strength to provide enough pressure to make sparks. It was a great learning opportunity. In the end, however, none of the children were able to consistently produce sparks in the right spot to get the fire lit. Luckily Krystal has all the requisite skills to use the flint successfully and was able to start a fire for the children to warm up around.
On Tuesday and Thursday, the weather was a little bit less spring-like, but it was certainly still pleasant out. The pathway to Curly Willow Bend is still a bit of an icy mess to traverse but it is slowly melting and offering up better footing. Our log bridge was a bit slippery this week though! All that slushy snow is sticking the children’s boots and creating all sorts of icy problems. We are all very careful though, so we made it across without incident, all week. At Curly Willow Bend the children continued to explore and climb on the fallen trees at the far end of the play site. Several of the children engaged in extensive narrative play, creating stories and games throughout the morning. Unsurprisingly, most of these children are our older students, the ones heading off to kindergarten in the fall. They did a great job displaying their maturing play skills. They collaborated, negotiated through conflict and carried the story for more than an hour. Other children spent the morning with Krystal, again trying their hand at fire basics. These children were also eager to use the flint and striker to try and start a fire with no lighter or matches. They were all very careful to listen and follow the directions. Some of the children were more coordinated than others and more successful at creating sparks, but again none of them was successful enough to light the fire. While I am looking forward to some spring weather, I hope the snow doesn’t melt so fast that we don’t get a few more days to practice with that flint and striker!
This week was short, but sweet. There was a whisper of spring in the gentle breeze and warm sunlight. The trees in the meadow are beginning to stir with the sounds of song birds returning. It’s an exciting time to be in the park and every day is a little different from the one before.
The children explored new play sites this week. Our Tuesday and Thursday classes have some challenges in getting to their play site. Luckily our wooden log bridge held up through the winter. The uncertain creek water (it was higher than we expected on Wednesday) mixed with the icy half-melted snow on the banks, not to mention backpacks, snow boots, and mittens all work to make the crossing a careful and slow process. It’s a wonderful opportunity for us all to slow down after a fun and exciting walk. The children wait for their turn to cross by resting along the pathway. The uncertain footing give each child the opportunity to slow right now, tune in to that moment, ignore any distractions and focus on the task at hand. Of course, we are there is helping hands to help with balance and safety but we encourage the children to work on all the skills they need to eventually make the crossing on their own. But don’t worry, no one will be attempting that until the end of the spring session!
The Wednesday class has a different kind of challenge in getting to their new play site. The site they are heading to for the next few weeks is one of the farthest. It can be quite the trek for little legs to make. This week, Krystal decided to move the class to a slightly different area than we usually visit. The move allowed us to take advantage of some of the last bits of snow on the hill for some sliding and also enjoy the sunshine.
The near-spring weather does have a downside in that it makes the snow absolutely terrible. It’s not good to play with and it melts during the day and freezes at night, making it harder to hike than we want. However, the one great thing about having snow on the ground still is that Miss Krystal can bring her fire making tools out with her. This week was all about fire building and fire safety. Each of the children was given the opportunity to help cut kindling. Miss Krystal holds a sharp knife against a small piece of wood and the children take turns pounding the knife into the wood with a mallet. It’s hard work but very rewarding for the children to contribute to the work of building the fire. There are always important lessons around using tools, what Miss Krystal’s expected behavior is while tools are being used. The activity provides an opportunity for the children to practice turn-taking and patience, as well as how to follow instructions and hand-eye coordination. Miss Krystal also explains the practical side of fire making, discussing what a fire needs to burn and how to place the wood so it doesn’t knock coals out or smother the fire. There’s also a lot of discussion around fire safety, how close the children should stand or sit, why we chose the site we did to set up the fire. And one of the children’s favourite parts of building a fire has been tossing snow on the coals to put it out at the end of the day! What a great chance for learning.
Well, we knew there was some snow in the forecast, but we weren’t quite expecting this much! Monday morning arrived with a skiff of snow decorating the park. It was also covering all of the ice which made things a bit hazardous. It was a learning experience for all of us to figure out how to navigate the park. The children seemed to find it very entertaining and went straight to work clearing off one small area of the field to slip and slide on. In fact, the children kept returning to the same spot all week and uncovering it every morning, even as the snow piled up. By Thursday, the snow was almost too deep for much sliding but for the rest of the week, most of the morning was devoted to sliding on our own little ice rink! Some of the children realized that if they took a run at it, they could really fly.
Monday was our sunniest day this week, so of course we ended up at our shadiest play site. Krystal and I were trying to decide if we had ever noticed just how much shade that bid red bridge throws out in the winter. Our conclusion was that it’s more often than not cloudy this time of year and so usually irrelevant. The children didn’t seem to mind at all. They climbed trees and made good use of the old fort at Cottonwood Forest. The snow was perfect for finding animal tracks, so some of the children spent some time exploring what animals had been visiting Cottonwood Forest without us. Some of the children even braved the chilly air to take off their mitts and practice some tying. We did eventually decide to try and find some sunshine so we moved just past the juniper tree the children use to climb and explored the bridge over the creek. The path down was very icy and several of the children spent the rest of the morning slipping and sliding.
When the children arrived on Tuesday, there was another skiff of snow and another round of clearing off our slip and slide and another morning of sliding! However, when we went off to our play site, we discovered that the creek has already begun to rise! Those warm days last week have done their work and our beloved Woodpecker Woods was too flooded to play at today. Up the hill we went, then, to spend our day climbing, sliding and bird watching. There was a bit of a chill to the air on Tuesday so it turned out to be a lucky strike for us to be somewhere with so much climbing to do. All that climbing made for some toasty preschoolers. One of the nearby backyards has several well stocked bird feeders, so one of the smaller children decided that climbing was just too much work and instead spent most of her morning watching all of the birds flitting around the tree. We spotted a downy woodpecker, chickadees, some juncos, sparrows and even a magpie or two. We did get quite the surprise at the end of the day though. As we were watching the birds flutter from tree to feeder to tree again, a sudden flash of dark gray tore through the yard and straight through the giant pine tree at the yard’s edge. As it emerged, the kestrel showed it’s white striped belly as it grabbed for an unfortunate songbird and as quickly as it came, it was gone, with it’s lunch clutched in it’s talons.
On Wednesday and Thursday, we were completely shocked to see our park tucked back under her winter blanket once again. Snow, snow and more snow. It just kept coming down. However, it was pleasantly warm and it sure was a lot of fun to play in. All the snow meant our original plan for these two days went out the window. This late in the season, we know our days of shin high fluffy snow are almost past and we didn’t want to miss out on an opportunity to make the most of it. We ate out at the picnic table without our tent and we spent those two days at the far end of the field, sliding and climbing through the snow. We chose this new hill instead of returning to Sandy Sliding Hill because it’s always fun to change things up but also because we want to make sure we’re modelling proper stewardship for the park and letting out play sites properly recover before we return. This sliding hill is a bit smaller, but it offers a new unique climbing challenge. It’s steep and slippery. To make it a little easier (and coincidentally, to allow the children to discover a new skill), Krystal tied some guide ropes to the sturdy Russian Olive tree at the top of the hill. The children used the rope to learn how to lean back and leverage their bodies to help them climb. Some of the children seemed to pick up this new skill almost intuitively. Others watched their friends trying it out for themselves. And some of the children needed a more hands on help to master the challenge. However, by the end of Thursday morning, all of the children who had showed an interest in climbing up the hill had made it up at least a few times. On Thursday, we also had one of the children bring their snow shovels to share with the class again. It was such a fun and creative way to play with the snow that it got me and Krystal talking about how/if we can get some for the program so we can use them more often! The children worked together to shovel pathways in the deep snow. Just a few, at first. As the pathways got longer, the children decided they were, instead, a race track. This concept drew a few more children to the shovels and more children meant longer pathways and before the end of the morning almost all of the children had found their way to the pathways and shovels! There was a lot of discussion about when the race would start and who would race. We were given a three minute warning and admonished to make sure we watched…but the shoveling was so engrossing, we never made it to the racing part!
We started this week with a slippery surprise in the park. Our warm days and cold nights have created some pretty icy conditions out there. The children noticed immediately that not only was the snow hard to play with, it was hard even to walk on! Our mornings were mostly spent sliding around and figuring out how to navigate the slippery field. Some of the children went hunting sticks to help them with walking. They soon discovered that while the snow wasn’t great for playing in, the sticks made servicable digging tools and they quickly went to work making holes in the piles of snow left over from last week. Fortunately, it was warm enough that we were able to eat snack without the tent again. We even had a problem with having the sun in our eyes on one day. It wasn’t the worst problem to have on a chilly January morning.
On Thursday, Miss Krystal went exploring around the ponderosa and juniper trees in the field and found something very exciting. She found two owl pellets! We left one where it was but we took the other to the picnic table to take apart with the children. We found many small mammal bones, mouse or shrew we guessed, and even most of a skull. The book we have been reading this book has an illustration of an owl pellet in it, so we took out our story and showed the children how the pellet looked a bit different in real life. We also discussed why owls make pellets, how they can’t properly digest the bones or fur so they have a special organ called a gizzard where the pellets are formed and then they’re spit up, sometimes for lucky preschool children to find!
This week was also our first week at out new play sites. Our Monday class headed off to Cottonwood Forest to see how winter had changed it. When we last saw Cottonwood Forest, it was all golden. Golden brown grasses, grown long in the last few weeks of summer and warm autumn, and golden leaves raining down on our heads as the Cottonwood trees shed their canopies and settled down for their long winter’s slumber. When we arrived there this week, the Cottonwood trees were tucked in under a thick blanket of snow. The ground showed that not even the dogs that frequent the park all day had spent much time in amongst the trees this winter. As always, the first place the children returned to was the juniper tree. This mighty, twisted juniper is an old friend to many of the children and a favourite place to climb and play. More than one child discovered the joy of climbing trees in the safety of it’s wide, sloping, tangled branches. But Miss Krystal had a surprise up her sleeve this week, or rather, in her backpack. She brought tempura paint powder to sprinkle on the snow!
On Wednesday we were going to wander back to Cottonwood Forest, as we usually would, but the warm weather means the snow is melting fast and we knew that our chances for sliding are coming to an end. So Miss Krystal decided we would spend one last day at Sandy Sliding Hill. It was a lot of messy, wet fun and definitely worth it. By the end of the day, we had to roll around in the snow to try and get as much of the mud off of us as possible before we wandered back over the musical bridge and to the yellow gate. Sandy Sliding Hill is definitely more Sandy than it is a Sliding Hill now.
Our Tuesday and Thursday classes head in the opposite direction to Cottonwood Forest and down to the creek to Woodpecker’s Wood. The crossing of the creek can be a little bit treacherous at this time of year, with ice and snow covering any useful logs to make bridges out of we relied on the rocks jutting out of the creek to get us safely across. With patience and care everyone made it across the creek without so much as dipping a toe into the water. The water, however, proved to be much to tempting for the children and it didn’t take long for buckets and bowls and scoops to be pulled from the toy bag and put to work in the chilly waters. The tempura powder made another appearance and some children even managed to climb the old willow in the middle of the play site, despite a sheer coating of ice that still coated some of his trunk.
This week was all about discovery. Discovering the icy field, discovering the melting snow, discovering the newly uncovered mud. Discovering new play sites and new animal signs. What will this next week invite us to discover?
After last week’s Arctic chill, this we were ready for the change in temperatures this week. It was positively balmy out! We were so happy to be back in the park and the children seemed to be as well. As inconvenient as our January snowfall has been for us adults to shovel and drive in and shovel again, it has certainly given us a lot of play value. With the temperatures warming up above freezing at points this week, the snow melted down enough to be great for packing. In fact, on Monday and Tuesday the snow was so wet it was almost too heavy to build with. However, the children used their ingenuity and figured out how to make it work. The snow might have been to heavy to build into a snowman, but the got to business rolling as many huge snowballs as they possibly could. Before long, the outline of a snow fort starting taking place. Elsewhere in the field, some of the children decided their snowballs should be a snow-motorcycle. Later in the week, when the temperatures dipped below freezing again, the children were stumped when the snow wouldn’t pack once again and they couldn’t continue to work on their projects. Fortunately, some friends brought some shovels to the park and demolition began! It took most of the morning but they broke down all of the snow they had labored so hard to build up. It’s always fun when mother nature cooperates with us and creates her own little science experiment for the children to explore.
This week was so warm that we decided to forgo the tent and and returned to eating our snack on the picnic table. The beginning of the week was so wet, we would have all been sitting in water anyways, so we were happy with our decision. However, it was still cold enough that most of the children were thankful to have snack mittens on hand and put them to good use.
After snack we adventured off to our play sites. It’s hard to believe that it’s week 3 already and next week means the start of a new topic of focus and new play sites. This week we said goodbye to Squirrel’s Den and to the Sandy Sliding Hill. Sliding was once again a preferred activity for most of the children at Sandy Sliding Hill. The morning was filled with giggles and shrieks as they flew down the hill. There was also a certain amount of grumbling and complaining. It takes a lot of effort to climb back up a hill that’s covered shin deep in soft and slushy snow. It was a considerable challenge for the younger children in particular. However, their desire to slide usually outweighed their frustration and they persevered in the climb. Fun can be such a great motivator. Especially when their friends are quick to offer guidance and encouragement, often even going so far as to wait for the slower children to make it to the top before they all slid down together in a long, giggling train.
At Squirrel’s Den this week, our biggest focus was all on the ice. There’s something overwhelmingly alluring about a snow and ice covered creek. I estimate that it took somewhere between 7 and 7.5 seconds for the children to migrate to the edge, sticks in hand and start exploring. A cautious examination by Miss Krystal gave the children the go ahead to step out onto the surface of the creek. It was a challenge to find sticks with all the snow on the ground but the children were very motivated and before long they were clustered along the edge of the creek, knocking pieces of ice off the edge of the frozen creek. On Wednesday the children were eager to resume their play but before we could reach Squirrel’s Den, one of the children noticed some tracks in the snow. A deer had been through the park in the night and the snow clearly showed their path. “Where did it go?” Miss Krystal asked and so our adventure began. Down a less traveled path we went, under a fallen juniper and down to the bank of the creek. “Did they go across the creek?” We had to keep following to find out. Across the frozen creek we went, and up the far bank. It was a lot of fun trekking off our regular path. We thought about continuing up the hill but once we reached the path, some of the children were so delighted to find themselves right at the exit to Squirrel’s Den via an unexpected route that they lost interest in the deer tracks and into Squirrel’s Den we went. The creek was still frozen so the children quickly went back to work on breaking the ice. “I’m not destroying the ice Miss Krystal, I’m freeing the creek!” laughs on child, stick in hand. By the end of the day, the children were sopping wet, but most of the creek was free!
**With the weather network calling for high’s of 3 degrees all week, PLEASE remember to pack those extra gloves. Two pairs are an absolute minimum in weather as warm as this, with so much snow left to play in. Often the children soak through their first pair before snack! If you can pack three pairs, that’s even better!
We made it through our first week of inclement weather! Here’s hoping it will be our last. The robins are beginning their return to Peterson Creek, so that’s a happy omen for us. This week we are so grateful for all of our families for working with us and being so understanding about all of the changes. We are also grateful for having resources like the Kamloops United Church and the Kamloops Museum that allow us to continue to run the program even when it’s -32 with the wind chill.
Overall, we are happy to say that this week was a success. The children adapted to the change in environment with admirable resiliency. We built forts and raced matchbox cars. We conducted science experiments, so see how far a plastic ring could roll across the room off of a ramp and what happened when you started adding more rings. Our usual mud kitchen was replaced with an indoor play kitchen but was still a favorite place to play for a number of the children. Many of the children also enjoyed playing with the play dough that Krystal made.
After we sat down for a story and snack, we bundled up and headed outside to the playground at Stuart Woods Elementary. The short walk to the playground helped warm us all up in the chilly weather. The children were ready to get out and enjoy the snow. We were lucky on Monday to get some sunshine but unfortunately it didn’t stick around for the week. The snow was deep enough that crossing the field was a bit of a challenge for some of the smaller children, but it was so much fun! The cold weather meant the snow was too powdery and soft for building. Instead the children made snow angels and took advantage of the playground equipment. Some children also discovered that the snow made a great landing pad and explored jumping off of the stone retaining wall on the edge of the playground.
On Thursday, we decided to take the opportunity to bring the children to the Kamloops Museum. On Thursday, we started the day outside on the playground and even ate our snack in our cozy winter tent. The children did an admirable job managing the weather but it was a sharp reminder of why we limit our time outside when it’s so cold! There were a lot of chilly fingers and toes by the end of snack and we made a quick escape to the warm museum. We spent some time in the bottom of the museum exploring the play area that is set up for children. We dressed up, built fires out of wood blocks and a cabin out of giant Lincoln logs. We read books and played with trains and practiced hula hooping. Near the end of the day, when the children were ready for a more quiet and calm activity, we packed up our things and headed upstairs to the main exhibits. The taxidermy exhibit was such a great opportunity for the children to see up close so many of the animals we talk about at Forest School and many of them were able to spot their nature name. On the top floor we explored some of Kamloops local history. It was very rewarding for us to see the children so engaged and interested in the exhibits. If you haven’t had a chance to take a look, we suggest you do. 🙂
The weather next week is looking significantly warmer, so we will see you all in the park!
Welcome and welcome back, Sprouting Knowledge Families! We hope that everyone’s holidays were filled with joy and laughter, play and relaxation.
Our first days back have been a snowy delight. A bit of a challenge for some of our families to get to preschool, but a whole lot of fun while we’re here in the park. Most of our families are continuing from the fall but it’s been a pleasure to meet and begin to build our relationships with the new children joining us! This week was all about setting up our expectations for the session, establishing routines, learning and relearning the rules of Forest School, and, of course, giving ourselves plenty of time to have fun and enjoy our snowy winter wonderland.
We have all been enjoying our new tent to store our bags during the morning and eat out snack. It’s so cozy we haven’t even needed to try the portable heater yet! The other park goers have been a bit surprised by the new addition but so far we haven’t had any furry visitors climb inside. Our mornings have been filled with exploring the field, seeing what we can do with the snow and figuring out the best branches to snack from. One of our strictest winter rules at Sprouting Knowledge is around when and where it’s acceptable to eat snow. There’s something about those soft, cold flakes that seems to be universally appealing to children. It’s impossible to keep them from tasting the cold snow. And we wouldn’t want to! It’s a wonderful sensory experience. They feel the coldness against their faces and feel the difference between soft, powdery snow and harder, icier snow. They feel it melt in their mouths in an instant .They taste that slightly metallic, watery snow taste. However, with all the doggy visitors to the park, there are a few firm rules we follow. We do not allow children to eat the snow off the ground! Even if it looks freshly fallen and clean. Who knows what’s lurking underneath? We would rather not find out. Instead, the children are encouraged to find laden branches and eat from those. Through trial and error we have discovered the joy of eating fresh fallen snow from the fragrant juniper branches. It is a sensory delight to combine the fun of eating snow with the fresh, lemony scent of juniper branches filling your nose.
This week also saw us return to the story of the Blubbergubs. Many of the children remember this story from the beginning of the Fall session as well. It is an important learning story for us to orient the children in the culture of Forest School. We are here to teach then reverence and respect for nature and to encourage them to become stewards of it in their own right. It is also a great story to prepare the children to receive their new nature names. If your child can’t remember theirs, don’t be shy to ask us! We love when families are able to help the child learn something about their new nature name, or at the very least for them to see a picture of the animal!
During our free play time after snack, sliding was a universally engaging activity. Climbing up slippery hills in deep snow was a pretty big challenge for some of the smaller children but they were all so motivated to persevere. The reward of sliding down the hill was well worth all of the effort. There’s a lot more collaborative play that happens in sliding than you would think, as well. Children help others who are struggling to climb; they point out footholds and handholds and alternative pathways up the hill. When they finally reach the top, figuring out who is going down when is a challenge all on it’s own. The children learn how to negotiate and resolve conflict and engage in discussions around how this sliding thing is going to go down. Do they go all together? In a train or a pile? Is it ok if someone jumps on and makes a dog pile at the bottom? There’s so many opportunities to develop gross motor skills, communication skills, play skills, and to have FUN!
We can’t wait to see what our chilly next week brings!
Keep an eye out for an email from Krystal. If the weather forecast stays as it is, there will be some changes to our programming!
“Quick, Miss Matthia, we need the binoculars to see the birds better!” A hawk has just flown over the field and the children are straining to see more clearly where he has perched and where the other, smaller birds have gone.
Our last week has come and gone and our fall session is done. There is something about the ending of a session that seems to bring leaps and bounds of growth out of the children. Or maybe some of that is just us teachers taking the time to reflect on how far they have all come.
The children arrived excited and happy for their last week. They went right into rolling snowballs in the meager snow that had fallen in the meadow. They had already perfected this skill earlier this season and it was remarkable how quickly they picked it back up and made impressively large snowballs. Each child strained to push their giant snowballs, at least as high as their waists, across the field. They shouted back and forth, “I need help over here please!” and traded their strength back and forth to all accomplish this rather monumental task. Their determination to finish the job pushed snack further and further back until they finally ran out of steam and needed a break, taking a moment to pose with their creations near the bridge. Some children noticed tracks in the snow. Without pause suggestions came in about what animal it may have been. Does that animal live in our forests? Can we follow the tracks and find out where it went? The lessons of these last weeks are written in their words and body language and keen interpretations.
Not only have the children’s knowledge and understanding of outdoor play skills and Peterson Creek Park’s environment grown, but also their tiny bodies have adjusted to the demands of forest school. Long hikes up tall hills are no longer the challenge they once were. The adventure is in the journey, in the discovery. Whether it’s a trail they’ve walked before or somewhere new that they are discovering for the first time, there is a confidence and surety in their steps. The have a good idea of the adventures awaiting them and point out interesting things along the way. Some may even gather a too-tempting stick as they go. Eventually, they know, there will be a time when that stick will be useful.
There is a mindful confidence in their play in these last days. They are comfortable and self-assured and certain. Each child has about them an aura of “I know just what to do.” Suddenly more reserved and observant children are directing play; Quieter children are making themselves heard; and children who have rarely sought each other out are engrossed in the same activity.
There is a beautiful peace and cohesion to the end of a session. In a few weeks time, it will all start again, and even with so many of the children returning, it won’t quite be the same as it is right now, in the moment. At least not right away. However, before long, we will once again be at the end of another session and this moment of peaceful reflection will carry us through to another.
As Bing Crosby said, it looked like a cold cold winter this week. With the temperatures plummeting, we were very pleased to see how well all of the children held up to the cold. Thank you, parents, for doing such a good job bundling them all up. In fact, I think us teachers were the only ones who were feeling the cold!
This week, the children spent their mornings discovering the birds hiding in the trees, following along to instruction songs, learning about the difference between migration and hibernation, and singing a very silly song that left them all giggling by the end. Snack was a colder than usual affair and snack mittens were much needed. Even after all our running around in the morning, little fingers get cold fast when they are bared in such chilly weather. On Thursday, we tried out our new tent and we were so excited to see what a great job it did to keep us all warm and sheltered from the wind. We even brought our tent heater out in case we needed it, but our tent worked so well that even in -11 degree temperatures, we didn’t really need it!
This week the children have settled into their play at our last playsites of the session. They return to games that started last week and continue with explorations already begun. Shelters were made and digging was done. There was less rolling down hills this week as the children realized quickly how hard the frozen ground had become.
This week was an unusual week because we had a new child spend the week with us as a special treat. Not only was he a lovely addition to our days, but it was a pleasure to watch the children respond to his presence with kindness and inclusivity. It was clear to us teachers how far some children had grown in these weeks when we watched them interacting with this new child. The children were generous with their knowledge and understanding of this new child’s uncertainty. With no external urging, the children immediately took it upon themselves to show this new friend all of the special, secret places of the field. They were careful to point out the sign warning of poison ivy and quick to remind him of the boundaries of their play. It was a very proud moment for us teachers to see the children we have been nurturing these last weeks take what we have taught and offer it so freely, so quickly, and with such open hearts.