We had the most perfect snow for our Forest 4s this past week!
Yesterday we experienced many firsts. Foremost was the weather. While we expected the rain in the afternoon, we were caught off guard by the on-again-off-again torrential downpour from 8:30 until around 10:30. Some of us had raincoats, most of us had boots, and none of us melted. All of us had fun regardless of the persistent precipitation.
In addition, our City Campus Pre-Kindergarten class came out to join us for Forest 4s. All together, we had 29 four and five year-olds exploring the wet and drippy woods. Before heading out, our North Hills Campus students made plans for introducing our new friends to the fort, squirrels, sticks, moss and snails.
The weather provided us with added observation opportunities. The extremely damp conditions encouraged previously hidden wildlife to cross our paths, sometimes quite literally.
This little creature, a Northern Spring Peeper, was spotted by one of the children as it climbed slowly up a tree. We had enough time for all of the interested children to stop by and marvel at it’s agile upward movement.
While hiking with Mr. Cooper, this lovely Eastern Box Turtle was spotted by one of our visiting Pre-K students. It was simply ambling along the trail.
(I personally thought this one was quite exciting. I haven’t seen a wild box turtle since I was little.)
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Today was a Forest Four day, and what perfect weather we had for it! Last Forest Four day we decided that it was time to move our Fairy House (the stick lean-to) to a new location. With this in mind, we headed out on the trail today with moving on our mind.
Above is an image of the old hide-away. The children spent over 30 minutes moving all of these sticks to the new location. I apologize for not having any photos of the massive undertaking. I, too, was busy hauling logs of all sizes.
Our new fairy house is much bigger and has the potential for many rooms. The children began playing in it before it had even been completed. We are looking forward to future child directed renovations.
It was a blustery, wintry, picture perfect Forest Fours day today! Not only was there enough snow to finally go sled riding, but it was also great packing snow. We had giant snow balls and snow-people galore and many discussion about where the fairies go for the winter. We couldn’t have asked for a more perfect morning. I think it’s safe to say that our little snow bunnies quite thoroughly enjoyed themselves.
Today, we introduced the students to a new chapter of Forest Fours by implementing a writing component to our day. Each child received a special journal that travels with us while on the trails. The students are allowed to draw pictures of the games that they are playing, the structures they build, or the specimens they see while out in nature (fungus, birds, rocks, deer, etc.). They also are allowed to collect things like leaves or small pieces of moss and tape them into their journals for safe keeping.
In addition to the journals, we borrowed four Polaroid cameras from Mrs. Weber so that the students can take pictures of items that would be too big to fit in their journals. The pictures are then taped onto a page and the students write about what they observed. The journals will travel with us each time we venture into the woods and the children are allowed to fill their journals to their heart’s content whenever they deem it necessary.
Since it’s inception, our class has used Forest Four days to play in an unstructured setting so that they could explore and create at their will. The addition of the forest journals allows students to extend their learning by giving them the opportunity to write, even while outdoors. Through this activity, the students are practicing skills such as fine motor development, phonemic awareness, self-regulation, observation, categorization, identification, and much more. We look forward to sharing our journal entries with you in the future!
This week, we had the opportunity to introduce the Fairy Tale Trail to the Pre-K students. It is one of our smaller trails, but has been beautifully embellished with a variety of whimsical decorations from the older students. Today, we were able to spend an extended period of time exploring the ins and outs of the Fairy Tale Trail on our Forest Fours day. It didn’t take long before the children made an exciting discovery! Someone had taken three of my painted “Story Stone” houses (that were meant for the small world table) and placed them on the Fairy Tale Trail! They naturally thought that I had placed them there but after learning that I had nothing to do with it, they had decided that fairies must have used their magic to put them on the trail and turn them into fairy houses. Fairy magic is some pretty amazing stuff!
Now, they are commissioning me to make more fairy houses that can live on the trail. After all, winter is coming and every fairy needs a place to live. So don’t be surprised if you show up to school only to find me stealing rocks from the playground or covered in paint in the classroom. It’s messy job but someone’s gotta do it!