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.