Friday, September 30, 2011

Learning in the Woods

Our second day of school in the woods was wonderful. We spent our morning exploring the sense of touch.
Miss Jen brought out such beautiful samples of nature that we felt with our hands. We asked each child to use describing words and they came up with 'bumpy', 'smooth', 'prickly', 'pointy' and 'soft'.
Then we shared our Mystery Box which was filled with items found in nature. The children each took turns putting their hands in the box and guessing what they felt.
When we went for our hike, we tried to find the same items that we felt in our Mystery Box.
It was very damp from a lot of rain and the bugs were pretty relentless. The children hardly complain though - its quite amazing.
We also looked for beautiful leaves for our project later in the day...
We found sweet worms wiggling under the rocks... Lilah was not one bit afraid and picked them up gently right away. We talked about how worms cannot see or hear but use their sense of touch to know where they are going.
When we returned from our hike to the picnic tables, Miss Jen led our craft activity of making homemade Leaf Presses.
The children used beeswax crayons and leaf stamps to decorate their press.
Then they layered paper and the beautiful leaves they found on their walk on top of each other.
We sealed each press closed with rubber bands and our leaves will sit in our presses until we are ready to use them for craft projects in a few weeks.
This day, I brought along a few wooden toys for the children to play with on our picnic blanket.
We also read beautiful stories - one of them was especially sweet and included different textures for the children to feel as they explored.
We look forward to seeing the children again next week.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Dragon Bread for Michaelmas

Today we celebrated Michaelmas by baking Dragon Bread :) - the girls all worked together.
As we made our bread each girl took a turn helping...
We measured and poured
And got messy :)
I shared a story of a Dragon who came and stormed a town and ruined the fields and crops..
And how the townspeople were so sad and had no hope

But St. Michael came and told them to rebuild and plant their seeds again...
And he defeated the dragon and sent him away...
We then kneaded our bread and let it rise...
And after an hour - we took it out and pounded it...
And shaped it into a dragon (lol - does it LOOK like a dragon to you?)... and waited for it to rise again and baked it.
Merry Michaelmas!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Autumn Crafting

To celebrate the coming of Autumn, the girls and I spent some time crafting.
I needlefelted a simple leaf which ended up decorating our favorite nature walk basket...
Maia wanted to make a leaf mask :) - she didn't want any help and got busy right away.
Silly pickle!
Keira wanted to make leaves out of felt and craft little leaf babies to go in them...
She traced and cut the leaves...
And began sewing together a little body for her baby...
I love spending time together at our dining room table being creative. And Autumn is my favorite season ever.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Mix a Pancake

Mix a pancake,Stir a pancake,
Pop it in the pan;
Fry the pancake,
Toss the pancake,
Catch it if you can.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Closely Knit

This sweet little chick was knit up by my daughter Keira for a creative project she had to bring in for school. The pattern is just a simple square folded over and sewed up just right from the book Toymaking with Children.
Did you know that you can knit anywhere? Up on a playset...
At the dinner table...
In bed with a special doll...
Maia is also a little knitter. She knows how to knit the regular way but really loves her knitting tower that she got for Christmas.
Simple finger knitting with a tool to make the coolest, thick, warm chain...
So much fun.
What are you working on?

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Preschool in the Woods

“Passion does not arrive on videotape or on a CD; passion is personal. Passion is lifted from the earth itself by the muddy hands of the young, it travels along grassstained sleeves to the heart. If we are going to save environmentalism and the environment, we must also save an endangered indicator species: the child in nature. — Richard Louv, Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature Deficit Disorder, 2005

Today was our very first day of Forest Preschool. We spent 3 1/2 hours immersed in nature with these sweet little children. Looking back, I can't believe I am getting paid to do such wonderful work. How very lucky I am.

Our theme today was 'Our Senses and The Environment: Sight & Shapes'. We began by making these fun shape necklaces to take on our hike. We learned about the 5 senses: sight, smell, taste, touch, and hearing. Then we talked about shapes - what are our favorite shapes? What makes them special? What kinds of shapes can we find in nature? Then we used our sense of sight to find different shapes as we walk through the woods!

Here’s one of the songs we learned before we headed off into the woods:

The Leaves on the Trees
The leaves on the trees,
They sway in the breeze,
They sway all around, all around.
Slowly first, then faster
Until all the leaves fall down.
(Repeat, gradually getting faster each time)

The children made these recycled boxes to hold all of their treasures in. And there were SO many treasures and especially NUTS!
Miss Jen and I found a Hornets nest - absolutely amazing - luckily, it was not near where we were working with the children.
Hmmmm what type of nut is this?
We found so many shapes in the forest....
A square is a square (make square with fingers)
No matter which where (turn square all around)
Turn it here, turn it there
It’s still a square (hold hands out to side)
Lilah found an Oval... do you see it? Look on the ground below...
And we were so excited to find these little mushrooms - they look just like fairy umbrellas... we talked a lot about the fact that many berries and mushrooms could make us very sick and be dangerous so it is important not to touch them unless an adult says it is ok.

A circle!
We found a piece of bark on the ground and when we turned it over we saw these wiggly worms :) - it was a perfect opportunity to talk to the children a little bit about habitats and being gentle when we are in the forest and careful not to disrupt things. I asked them if they thought this was the worms' home and that maybe it would be nice if we covered them back up... so we did :)
What letter is this? Kylie found the letter Y... not only one time but twice.
Gavin and the other children enjoyed playing boat with the leaves in this stream...
Alex used his stick to test the water.
Can you find the big letter 'V' we noticed?

Afterwards, we came back to our table and had snack. Then we decorated our collection boxes with the items we found. The children were tired but still excited about the rest of the activities we had planned.

Miss Jen had a tree identification book that we were able to use to find out what type of tree this nut came from. It was a Shagbark Hickory... which is actually an edible nut.
Very cool indeed.
We then pushed some nature materials into this plaster of paris to make a fun take-home craft.

And after lunch together picnic-style, we listened to a few sweet stories until Mommies came to pick up the children.
What an amazing first day! I have the absolute best partner to work with, a beautiful location to teach and four little souls just absorbing it all in.
I feel so alive and filled with gratitude :)