Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Timberwolf Trail - Week 16 - 2015-16 Edition

With temperatures dipping into the high 30's and a bit of a howling wind at times, Forest Kindergarten started to actually feel a little bit like winter today. We may have been a bit chilled at times but our enthusiasm and love of nature warmed us and led us through a wonderful day of learning.

Arriving well before the students, the sun barely beat me up before I headed to our wooded section and "hid" 24 envelopes around the forest. Inside each envelope was a picture of something we would need for an ecosystem activity later in the morning. Just my luck, as soon as I finished placing the envelopes, the rains came and soaked many of them.

Soaked or not, when the kids arrived and we headed out on the trail they were raring to go once I told them there were envelopes ready to be found. Before starting the search, we quickly reviewed the important parts of trees and some of the roles those parts played in a healthy forest. We also introduced the idea of community and how all the parts of the school community (students, families, staff, and teachers) were important to that school's success. Then, the search began!

Once all the numbered envelopes were snatched up, we returned to one of our outdoor group areas and returned to talking about community. This time, we focused on the parts of a forest community. This took us to learn about the word ecosystem. To make the connections of the nonliving and living things vital to a forest ecosystem, we opened our envelopes one by one and read a fact about the item pictured in each envelope. With each envelope connecting to the prior envelope and needed for the next envelope, it was easy to see how all things are related and important. From rotting wood to bees, flowers to fungi, and soil to scat, each element of the forest ecosystem was connected. Of course, we didn't just talk about these connections, we also used yarn to connect each element to each other, creating a huge and engaging interconnected web.

After snack, we headed back to the woods to read the story of Mousekin's Golden House. With winter on its way, I felt this was a great time to share this fun little story about a mouse who came across a discarded jack o' lantern and found it to be a useful home for the cold winter months. This story was a jumping point for a future projects. Students will return from winter break to plan and create their very own mouse house using natural supplies. While sticks would probably be a main ingredient in many of these houses, we took this time to start collecting sticks for our future constructions.

Though we did have to stop and review our stick safety expectations, it was really amazing to see kids work together to transfer large branches. They even added the sound effects of a truck in reverse as they made their way to the growing stick pile. BEEP! BEEP! BEEP!

We wrapped up our session with natural play. Many kids stuck around and added to the wood pile. At least until the newly discovered rock pile was re-discovered. It quickly became a popular attraction.

One more Forest Kindergarten week in 2015. Next week, we are planning to once again decorate some evergreen trees for the animals, adding cereal and pretzel garland to our usual peanut butter and seed feeders. Maybe just maybe the incoming winter will bring us snow so we can use our newly acquired snowshoes.

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