The other day I found something exciting while walking in the woods.
One of our trees blew down many years ago. This treasure-trove was easily visible inside. I had to share it with my class. I wondered what questions they might ask. “How did those get there?” “Who lives here?” “Why are there so many?” I imagined our next research project drifting into animals in winter or animal homes.
I forgot that children bring their own perspectives to all experiences.
Yes, they looked inside this log and said, “Hey, there’s coconuts in there!” However, that was as far as their interest led them. Instead, they were very concerned about the “mushrooms” growing on the outside of the log.
They decided the log provided a great place for some large motor practice, climbing back an forth across the large tree. A few investigated the jump-worthiness of the stump.As we were about to leave, without any interest in the stash of nuts, one of the children felt the tree had not been fully explored. So he went in.
Obviously, some things are much more interesting than talking about some old nuts. Reminder to self: trust the children. They will find what they need.
Yesterday was our first official Forest Four Day. Kindergarten and Pre-Kindergarten spent about two hours exploring our Northbound Trail. The undergrowth sprouted up beyond our knees over the summer, leading to a lovely, wild excursion.
Big discussion this morning in the forest: What made this hole? The first discovers were sure it was a snake. Laughing, screaming, and yelling warnings while running through the woods followed. This brought the rest of us in for closer inspection. Many assured us that it was definitely a snake hole. That is until we were presented with another idea.
MF: It is not a snake hole. It is a mole hole.
Mrs. F: Oh, how can you tell?
MF: Mole holes have the dirt pushed up around the edge like this. Moles are bad. My grandpa has them all over his yard. We put little yellow worms in that the moles don’t like and they go away.
VJ: Snakes don’t dig holes. They slither and there are no slithers here.
FD: Moles aren’t bad. They are cute. I held one once and they are cute.
GS: Yeah, moles are good for the world. They help trees and plants grow.
AZ: No, it’s definitely a snake hole. RUN!!!!
After this discussion, some of the children remained to contemplate the origins of the hole. The rest ran off to run from the attacking moles and snakes. It appears it doesn’t matter what is attacking, it’s just fun to run around hiding from the imaginary threat.
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.)