Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Timberwolf Trail - Week 32 - 2015-16 Edition

Any teacher knows we are in the "dog days of teaching" this time of year. Summer is getting close and the kids know it. Yesterday was one of those days where I felt defeated and frustrated as it seemed like what could go wrong did go wrong and there was nothing I could do to stop it.  I was exhausted and depleted of energy. Today, we went outside and it all came back. The energy. The excitement. The happiness. :)

Though temperatures in the mid 40's and a stiff breeze don't exactly scream summer, our painted lady caterpillars had arrived the day before so it was butterfly life cycle day. After reading Amy Rockwell's Becoming Butterfly at the oak tree classroom, we decorated our own butterfly, attached a popsicle stick and folded up our butterfly into our toilet paper roll chrysalis creation.

We then physically acted out the life cycle of the butterfly from egg to fluttering butterfly. I also felt the impromptu urge to tweak the title of our Leaves, Branches, Trunk, and Roots song to Head, Thorax, Abdomen. Throw in some side verses about antennae, wings, and the proboscis and we have a potential #1 hit for the charts, or at least a silly way to remember the parts of the butterfly.


Crawling Caterpillars

Hanging from their chrysalis. . .then fluttering away to natural play

After snack, our morning natural play session led to some friends heading back to the recently neglected rock pile and the majority heading to the newly-christened natural play area. Observing them, listening in to their creative games, and listening to them thresh out their issues through active and appropriate problem-solving really validates why I started this forest kindergarten. I feel these students are getting such a unique and powerful experience with nature while practicing and perfecting skills necessary both in and out of the classroom.

We returned from natural play with the ever popular tick check in our  mowed classroom affectionately named the "grass class" before enjoying an inaugural garden yoga session. While not being the most flexible yoga instructor, I certainly had fun trying.

Butterfly pose

Seed to plant pose

The Flower

Tree pose

The Froggy

Before lunch, we kicked off our next science on Rainbow, Color, and Light by using tempera paint and bubble solution to make bubble prints. This fun art project gave me some ideas for the future, another big benefit of trying new things in our outdoor classroom.

In the afternoon, we enjoyed our new natural play area by balancing on the logs while playing our newest version of our counting game, Math Champions. However, rather than all standing and sitting as we are eliminated, we all choose a stick and then drop it as we are out of the activity. The last remaining stick holder is the reigning Stick Champion Not an exciting title, but the kids love the new twist on an old favorite.

When our newest stick champ was crowned, we wrapped up with our nature journal time, an afternoon session of natural play, a sharing session, and a discussion about how our experience will soon be made into a documentary by the high school audiovisual club.

With all those exciting things, the highlight was one friend coming to me and saying, "I hope I get to come learn  and play outside as a first grader."

Me too!

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