Delightful December Days in Forest School (Dec 4-8 2017)

We started our first full week of December in the woods still snowless!  We can’t believe that winter is almost here and the ground is completely bare! We bundled up against the chill in the air and excitedly made our way to the forest where we couldn’t wait to get busy!  M checked on the “batmobile” which was still standing strong before making an attempt at hanging a rope a swing. He threw the rope over and over and had so many close calls but he just couldn’t get it over the branch this time.  We are pretty sure that, soon, he will be tossing it over and making a swing himself and we are all excited to see this happen!

D approached Chelsa about visiting a particular broken tree that was slightly out of our boundaries but now visible with no leaves on the trees.  They and C had visited this tree on Friday and noticed that it’s jagged top was all black and talked about how it looked burned. They had idea about how this could have happened including fire, the sun and the possibility that it had been hit by lightning. D laughed at his explanation of it.  He said “the burnness is from a frying pan”. As he and Chelsa returned to the tree on Monday, he looked down the centre and discovered that it was hollow inside and that there was hole coming out the bottom. M joined them and, right away, items began being collected to be dropped down the hole inside to see if they would emerge out of the hole at the bottom of the tree.  D counted his sticks “1, 2, 3” as he dropped them down the hole. The boys were really excited to see that they, in fact, did come to the bottom where they retrieved them and tried again.

It wasn’t long before their friends came to see what was happening and to share ideas of their own about the tree when they noticed that it was burnt.  Z guessed that it was fire. P noticed that there were a lot of small holes in the tree and said “A lot of bugs must live in here”.

Back at our site, G, J, R, P and N worked on a project together.  They had tied a rope around a tree and were taking turns trying to pull a large branch with the other end.  They eventually pulled the branch to the base of the tree with much teamwork and tied it there to the tree.

They took a closer look at one of the larger trees, noticing the holes at the bottom where the trunk met the roots and decided to look for skunks and other critters.  They came up empty handed but it was great to see that they recognize such places as hiding spots for animals.

The warmer than usual temperature allowed us to remove our gloves to use markers at our meeting area.  J kept his on but still managed to practice the letters of his name. He was proud to show his teachers the letter J he made and then worked with a teacher to practise the other letters of his name.  As he made the letter E he noticed that he could turn it into a ladder by adding more lines across and a second line down the other side. He was pretty proud of his discovery and showed Chelsa how he could do it.

R, A, J and M all joined him at the meeting area soon enough and each sat a while to create pictures of various things including R’ final product of “Christmas”, a beautifully coloured green and red piece of artwork which took him quite a long time to complete.  

The children worked very well together to clean up the site, helping with all of the equipment they had used.  We are so proud of our emerging abilities and and responsibility we are showing as we grow together in the forest week after week.  

Wednesday we were delighted to have a visit from Lisa from The Earth is Hiring for another “Wild Wednesday” with her.  She helped us learn about the ways animals move, animals that live here in our Ontario forests and the different types of homes animals have through a very wide range of activities both in the classroom and in the forest.  Check out her guest blog (posted Dec 6/18) for all of the fun and exciting details of our Wild Wednesday morning with her!

We decided to do something different Friday morning.  With an icy wind blowing, we thought it would be a great day to go for a hike through a different forest to keep us moving and warm, out of the wind and to see what we might find.  Before we left, though, we posed for a photo. It was Christmas Sweater Day at the centre we had some really great christmasy outfits to show off!

We made our way across the road and through a path that lead us through a meadow of tall grass and towards another forest.  We listened for the different sounds and noticed we could hear the grasses as they moved in the wind as well as the sound of little birds all around.

We also noticed that the grass in some areas was flattened down in large patches.  Karen talked to us about how this could mean that there had been animals there, maybe resting, causing the grasses to bend and break. J suggested that it was where reindeer lay.

This put us on the lookout throughout our walk for more evidence of animals.  Something else we found in the grasses were plenty of insect galls. Some stems had two or three on them.  G recognized them right away and asked “Are those the ones with flies in them?” He remembered “forest Lisa”  showing us these galls on Wednesday and explaining how the larvae of flies and other bugs survive the winter inside them.  

We made our way down hills and up again, listening for birds and hearing some chickadees. We were as quiet as we could be, in hopes of seeing a deer or a bunny or any other animal they may be hiding here.

We still didn’t have much snow but the extremely light dusting we did get revealed something really great along our path.  Karen pointed it out to us at first and we could see, from comparing to Lisa’s animal tracks card, that it was a deer track!  We started looking around and we were pretty excited to find more right on the path. The “reindeer”, as R called it, went the same direction we were about to and this had us on high alert!

Single file and quiet as mice, we made our way along the path, searching through the trees for reindeer.  We eventually lost its tracks but we had so much other observing to do. We could hear a squeaking, creaking sound and we all stopped to listen.  After a while, we noticed that the sound was coming from above. The trees were moving in the wind and, as they did, they creaked and rubbed against one another, creating the sound we could hear.  There were plenty of fallen trees we had to climb and clamber over along the path and even one we had to duck under.

These sparked conversations of how they had gotten there.  We also noticed that this forest had different trees than the forest where we usually explore.  Some of them had a weird looking fungus on them that looked like poop

and some of them were pines that offered us some really great pine cones.  They were longer than the ones we find near the park as they came from some white pines and, as we picked them up, we noticed they also offered us sticky sap!  The cones were covered in the sap but much of it was hard. We took turns smelling them and noticed that they smelled like Christmas trees.

We gathered a couple of pine cones to bring back with us before making our way back out of the trees, into the field and the wind where the chill got us moving a little more quickly to get back to the centre.  With smiles and rosy cheeks, we sat down for lunch together and we were starving!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *