Saturday, October 17, 2015

Timberwolf Trail - Week 7 - 2015-16 Edition

The brisk breeze of a Wisconsin weekday on October allowed us to enjoy a rainbow of colors among the trees. It also allowed us to see new perspectives on our outdoor learning environments.
This week, though engaged in several curricular-based activities, an underlying goal of teamwork and problem-solving was at the core of what we did. We started off with a review of using balance scales. I split up the class by gender. As the girls went off to their sit spots and journaled, the boys were given a balance challenge. As is with many boys, competitive juices flowed, independent thoughts took over, and very little verbal communication took place. After explaining, the challenge, three groups of boys went off and grabbed materials independent of each other to find the "natural balance." It took a while, some frustrations among peers, and some teacher tips, but a few of the groups did achieve that balance.
Then, we flip flopped and the girls took over the challenge. Oddly enough, as they boys went out to their spots to write and illustrate, the girls stayed back and devised a plan before putting that plan into action. Now it is possible a few girl may have listened in on my tips, but regardless, it was certainly easy to see that the girls put the goal ahead of their individual aspirations., By communicating and planning before acting, all groups met the challenge, the super challenge, the super super challenge, and one I had to create on the fly, the super duper challenge. When we all got together the next day to discuss the results, thy boys didn't really like the taste of the humble pie the girls served them, but I do think some of the boys; thinking brains starting spinning and gaining traction with the concept of cooperation. Mission accomplished!

Before natural play time, we explored the color changes by observing the land and noting the vast variety of differences in colors, even among the same tree. We also explored a new tree, chalk full of cavities the kids made sure to inspect for snakes and chipmunks.

Then, using a buddy system and the new Leopold benches, we practiced patience and perseverance through art. Before we trekked the trail, the students had a partner trace their forearm and open-fingered on paper to form a bare tree. It wouldn't be bare for long.
After reviewing a little bit of science regarding the color changes,teach student searched for few colorful leaves. Then, going against everything we have talked about concerning using minimal amounts of glue and "dots, not lots,", we globbed the glue down on the finger portion of our tree, crumbled up the freshly fallen leaves, and sprinkled them in the sticky sea to create a fall tree out of real leaves. After allowing them to try, we finished the task inside by adding colorful illustrative and word details and words to create a a fall scene worth hanging in the hallway for all to enjoy.
I am so very proud of my students. Their passion for exploration is contagious. I wish I would've started this forest kindergarten years ago. With all the rejuvenation and excitement I get teaching and learning outside, I really can't think of doing it any other way!


  1. Wow! This is such an exciting program. Thank you for sharing.

    1. Thanks! Keep checking in for all the outdoor education fun. :)