Experiential Lessons in Erosion and Boundaries

Now in the middle of May and halfway through our Spring preschool session, we start to venture a little further into the park. As we meandered our way South to Fir Forest, we quickly saw the effects of Spring at our feet. A section of Creekside, our usual trail, was entirely washed out! This years spring flooding caused a continuation of last years washout, eroding the bank and taking down a Cottonwood tree as well as the junipers that lined the trail. The children remembered the spot on the trail from last year and were excited to witness first hand the power of spring run off. Continue reading Experiential Lessons in Erosion and Boundaries

Where did this mud come from?

Today started out as an adventure right off the bat, as some kids had to detour to even make it to preschool on time. Thankfully though there’s no traffic in our forest, so once we had all of us we began our own forest adventure instead. The question at hand – could we make it to Curly Willow Bend today? Miss Ashley had noticed earlier in the week Peterson Creek was rushing right through our play place, leaving little to no room for us. BUT, seeing that the creek seemed a little bit lower today, we were hopeful we might stand a chance! As we wandered the winding trail, we noticed a little less water on the trail than last week and had no trouble getting through. Once we arrived we could see that our Curly Willow corner was much less underwater than before. I guess the creek really does change every day!

So, we took the long way around and climbed down in to observe the effects of the water on an old familiar place. The kids quickly found the two different paths where the water had left sand and mud behind. Soon they learned flipping over rocks uncovered families of worms we hadn’t seen before. The biggest debate was whether to pick them up and play with them, or leave the family safe and sound – with varying opinions amongst the group (RH’s excitement over the creepy crawlies was so boisterous and sweet!).

The mud today gave us more than enough to do and put our mud kitchen supplies to perfect use. SH cooked up all kinds of chocolate cupcakes, and PA was happy just digging away!

Time went by about as quickly as the rushing water next to us, and our journey home became a battle of whose voice was louder – teachers or the creek! A quick stop in the meadow for a blindfolded string line walk through the trees and bushes, before meeting parents at the end of a very exciting day.

~ Miss Ashley

Hammocks, Knapweed, Ropes and Rainbows

This sunny and warm morning began with a quick visit from the city staff, to inform us of which noxious weeds to look out for on the trails (Knapweed and Dalmation Toadflax) , and how to properly pull and dispose of them. We then spent our journey to Cottonwood Forest searching for these two culprits, and noticing changes in other plants along the way. EF noticed some of the big yellow balsamroot flowers are starting to fade, while the dandelions seemed to have sprung from the ground overnight!  Miss Krystal found quite a bit of knapweed in the forest which Ms. Ashley helped her bag, and bouncing on the Cottonwood trees was a favourite first activity for the twins and IB.

Today’s play took many forms, including some awesome independent rope play by AL, SR, and MS. Their skill in manipulating the ropes has really progressed and MS spent a considerable amount of time building a very elaborate trap. By the time everyone had completed their trip lines and animal traps the forest started to look more like an adventure obstacle course! Miss Krystal brought out some pieces of fabric to make hammocks that would to challenge the kids’ listening skills (there is a correct way to get in a hammock and not fall out immediately!) balance, perseverance, fear, and strength, not to mention ability to take turns and support each other, as each child got to pick how many swings it would take to turn their cocoon into a beautiful purple (or blue, or black) butterfly!

EF worked hard on building his very own den this time around lifting and carrying branches that were much longer than he was, rallying some assistance from his friends. MD along with IB set to brightening up our old one with many shades of tree chalk. 

With sunny warm days like these, just a friendly reminder to keep our hats on and be sure to lather up with sunscreen every morning! Oh, and don’t forget to always check for ticks!

~ Miss Ashley


Spring Run Off Observations

Thursday May 3rd

Thursday was an adventure-filled day to remember, and one that reminded us of the value of place-based learning. As we crossed the musical bridge, we observed that Peterson Creek had the highest flow levels we’ve seen yet this Spring. As we made our way down the winding trail to Curly Willow Bend that became even more apparent as parts of the trail were beginning to flow over with water. Luckily this week we could still get by, but when we arrived at our usual crossing we found our bridge to be all together gone – “it’s too creeky” EF exclaimed! After a brief discussion about whether or not our place was safe to play in and how it might be safe to cross the creek today our group found another way, over the car bridge, down the road to get into Curly Willow Bend.
The children couldn’t get their packs off fast enough, because there was something drastically different about this place today! Continue reading Spring Run Off Observations

Climbing Trees Builds Brains

Thursday, April 26th was a beautiful, sunny day that inspired our venture down into the Curly Willow Bend, to discover how Spring was unfolding there. After some quick bridge repairs, the whole group got to test our balance one by one, using bear crawls and limbs as needed. PA was very brave and got her first chance to cross one of our self-constructed bridges across the creek! Continue reading Climbing Trees Builds Brains

Return to Cottonwood Forest

Tuesday April 24th brought us Spring in full swing at Sprouting Knowledge. As we walked across the musical bridge we noticed last weeks buds have started to open into lovely green leaves and EF observed Peterson Creek to be lower than it had been in our few weeks prior.
The whole group was excited to make our way a little further South today, towards the much anticipated Cottonwood Forest (only a few children have been here before). At snakes rocks half the group took the upper trail, and a brave crew adventured toward the lower, we decided we would be as quiet as possible to try and spot any small mammals and their homes throughout the juniper and forest underbrush.Arriving at Cottonwood forest at last, after a long hiatus to allow for regrowth of the underbrush, felt a bit like entering a magical Fairy land, which had SR beyond excited! The boys in the group immediately noticed the wide open space to run, and an almost perfect race track circle around the area – in FJ words – “on the dirt, then on the grass, on the dirt, then on the grass”, makes for the perfect running track! SR and AL busied themselves with scarves, shakers, and miscellaneous fun supplies, while MD got creative colouring the cottonwood trees. Much sharing was observed with polite requests for turns and thank-you’s among MD, JH, AL and SR all morning long. The positive group dynamics has not gone by unnoticed by our leaders these days!

IB stayed close to the Juniper tree throughout the morning, letting others come and go as they pleased. The imaginary world this space brings out for her, will remain hers alone.

Much to clean up by the time snack time came around, as ropes, pulleys, scarves, buckets and crayons were all strewn about by this active and busy morning. Our day came to a close with an exuberant game of Foxes and Rabbits (hide and find) with 11 little creatures all around the Juniper, near to the bridge, behind the trees, and under all sorts of creatury crawl spaces. All of this busy activity, combined with sunshine and warmer weather (22 degrees today!), has us all excited to return to Cottonwood Forest again soon. Till next week!