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!