Updated: Nov 23, 2020
Some fierce fall weather brought high winds for our Halloween party and a flood a couple of weeks later, yet the grounds are as resilient as the children and rich play-based learning has continued unfettered. In the interest of safety, we made sure we were not in the woods during the high winds and cancelled the play session the morning after the flooding. Just before the Halloween party, complete with costumes and treats, we took a Nature walk, during which the children enjoyed throwing sticks from the bridges into fast moving water and moving a large branch together from the greenway. The children were thrilled to be able to play in giant puddles, and many got thoroughly drenched, as temperatures were mild. The Nature Explorers and the Nature Preschool/Forest Kindergarten groups were fascinated at the rate at which the leaves, having just shown off their vibrant oranges, yellows, and reds, fell to litter the floor of base camp, revealing the blue sky, and allowing unobstructed views of the sandy banks of the creek, as well as nearby buildings and the highway. The grass at base camp has all but died off after the flooding and cooler weather, opening more pathways to explore on our hikes.
The Nature Explorers have enjoyed hiking out to a creek access near the greenway and digging for clay, as well as discovering clumps of clay in the sand and creek, collected and deposited there as a result of the swift flood waters. In turn, the Nature Preschool/Forest Kindergarten group has enjoyed playing with the clay, once making cookies to share in an imaginary party to which I was invited. The children have also enjoyed playing house in the shelter I am in the process of building with a little help from the Nature Explorers, and the Nature Explorers are starting to be able to focus long enough to complete some of their own shelter building. In addition, the children have enjoyed putting up and swinging or relaxing in our two hammocks. Climbing the slope is still a favorite activity, and the recent rains have provided the extra thrill of taking the long and safest way up, then quickly sliding down!
The children have also enjoyed the newly introduced pulley and hand drill, a sneaky way of embedding STEM skills and the related problem-solving and language skills into our Nature curriculum. The Nature Preschoolers/Forest Kindergarteners have decided that they would like to do more in depth study of grasshoppers, and the Nature Explorers have each picked a forest animal to learn more about when we return after Thanksgiving or Winter Break. Each group is still building their literacy skills by writing their play plans, given individualized assistance, and we continue to embed instruction in letter sounds in that activity. In addition, we have added more books related to Nature, and capitalized on time spent during snack and lunch to read books they choose to them or listen to them read.
Each day in the woods together is a gift, and we are being even more vigilant in safe-guarding that opportunity as Covid-19 infection rates climb in the surrounding community. At the same time, we are trying to find more children who could benefit from active learning through play in the woods, as we continue to wear masks and practice other precautions.