Fall Forest Changes (Oct 23-27, 2017)

Monday morning had us all overflowing with excitement as it was finally time to head back to the forest after two whole weeks away!  We were eager to talk about the forest and what we thought we might see over snack time together. One of our friends said “I bet there will be a lot of colours”.  Lisa asked them what colours they thought they would see and some of them went to the window to where they could see the tops of the forest trees to help make some guesses!  We were dressed and ready to go in a flash and, when we got to the forest we noticed there was, in fact, a lot of colour in the trees. Karen did a safety check of our site and then finally, we went in. Our meeting area was waiting for us and we came together to talk about  what we noticed. The obvious answer was that the leaves had changed colour and that there many on the ground at our feet. We also talked about how the leaves could be hiding things that may be tripping hazards for us! After we shared the story “We’re Going on a Nature Hunt” by Steve Metzger, we set out to explore in all directions.  

P and J used spoons, pots and and pans to dig and mix in the mud kitchen area and P decided “I need some water”.  Karen asked where we might find water and he and J remembered that they had some found some in a hole in a tree before.

Armed with their spoons and pans, they made their way to one of these holes.  They were disappointed when they pulled their spoons from the hole to find them dry but P said “What is that stuff?” as J scooped out something dark.  They looked at one another and then started to take turns scooping the “stuff” out and into their pans. It resembled wet soil but we couldn’t be sure what it was exactly.  This interaction continued for quite some time as the spoons were a snug fit for the hole but they continued scooping until they felt they had what they needed.

Z had found some green balls as we entered the woods and collected them as he walked to the meeting area.  He told Chelsa he thought they were tomatoes. Later, he cracked a couple of them open on one of the big boulders to solve the mystery of what was inside.  There was a hard piece in there! He brought it to his face to smell it and said that he liked how it smelled. He showed his friends what he had found. It was a nut from a tree!

R, Z and N pulled a bunch of ropes to one end of our site and began wrapping them around trees and boulders, creating a booby trap.  N said “Its a booby trap for bad witches. It will catch their legs.”

They continued their booby trap construction for quite some time before R decided to take one of the ropes to the swinging branch and try to make a swing.

He tried to throw the rope over the branch a few time and when J offered to help, he said “Sure!”.  They both made a few attempts but couldn’t manage to get the rope over the branch. With the help of a teacher, they finally got the swing strung up at a perfect height before taking turns swinging on it and allowing their friends to have turns as well.

Our morning was coming to a close but we wanted to get a glimpse of the rest of the forest before we left as well as go on a little nature hunt of our own, collecting leaves.  We tidied up our things to get on the trail but not before M and O treated us to some music they were creating with pans in the mud kitchen area.

We were excited to see all of the leaves covering our trails as we collected the most beautiful ones we could find to bring back with us sharing with our friends and teachers the colours we saw.  We noticed that a tree had fallen while we were away and wondered how it had happened and took some time to explore the hollow log we love to climb into.

Finally, we saw something we had never seen in our forest before. R was chatting with Chelsa on the trail and he said “I saw a white bunny in the forest.”  She looked at him and said “A white bunny?” To which he replied “Yeah”. At the same time, Lisa and Michelle looked over and he was pointing. Michelle laughed and said “He’s not kidding.  Look!” And there it was a big beautiful white rabbit. We all watched as he nibbled on some plants, not shy to be near us at all. We wondered where he came from and why he was there. He certainly didn’t belong in the forest.  We wondered if it was someone’s pet that had gotten away. As quickly as he appeared, he was gone and we were left wondering about him as we made our way back to the centre for lunch .

Wednesday morning we had some chilly, windy weather to prepare for!   The temperature had dropped and we had some bundling up to do before heading to the forest together.  Once there, we wanted to get moving so that we could stay warm. We listened to the sounds of the leaves and and each of us shared our plan for the morning.  R, Z and N headed for the fallen tree to get a little climbing in before they pulled out the ropes to make another boobie trap.

They used quite a few different ropes and had them wrapped around a few small trees as well as one very large tree.  P came to join them and he used the rope to help him “climb a tree”. He held onto the rope, leaned back and worked his feet, step by step up the thick roots of the tree.

Seeing this, his friends decided to give it a try as well!  D couldn’t seem to get his footing and kept stumbling and falling.  Rather than get frustrated, though, they he kep trying and then laughed and laughed each time he found himself back on the ground.  J also worked at climbing the tree with the rope and, at times, all three boys were holding the same rope, happily sharing the challenge together.

J was using a stick as a tool  to tap on a log when he noticed that the colour was different after he hit it.  He looked at Karen and said “It turned white”. He continued to tap away at the log and, with each tap, the log changed a little more.  The outside was chipping off and the inside of the log was exposed, showing him a different colour than was inside.

Many of our friends worked to tie their own ropes for different reasons Wednesday morning.  C, R and G wanted to hang hammocks so they unravelled them on their own, decided where they wanted to hang them and then wrapped the ropes of each end around the trees. Tying them to tree so they would be safe took the help of a teacher but we are curious about tying and practising making knots.  Its is only a matter of time before we can tie the hammocks up ourselves. All three children were very proud of the steps they could accomplish on their own and smiled as they high fived their teacher before hopping into their hammocks.

With the wind whistling through the trees, we started to wonder if it might be a good day to try flying kites.   Lisa and Chelsa got out some butterfly kites and started assembling them. Naturally, this made some of our friends very curious! Z and R came to watch at first and then became excellent helpers to put the kites together.  First to read the instructions and then hold tight to the kites so that the tails could be tied.

At last, we were out of the woods and in the nearby field, ready to see our kites soar, and just like that, the wind stopped!  We couldn’t believe it! Some of us had flown kites before and some had not so we decided that it was worth giving it a try anyway and did we ever!  We took turns holding on tight to the kite string high above our heads and running as fast as we could. This proved to be a little tricky and it took some time for us to get the hang of it.  Once in awhile, a gust of wind would come and the kites would go up which encouraged us to keep trying.

Everyone took turns and cheered for one another as we saw the kite go up, crash and even drag along the grass.   We kept at it for a very long time and had some really great successes and tons of laughs together. We forgot about the chill in the air and lost all track of time. We just couldn’t believe it when Karen noticed it was time to head back for lunch.  We are hoping for another windy day in the not so distant future so that we can explore kite flying again soon!

Friday morning we made our way through a chilly breeze to the forest where, with Halloween quickly approaching, we read the story “Spooky Hayride” by Brian James.  We talked a little about the title and how the word “spooky” can be another word for “scary”.

After considering how we wanted to spend our morning, N and Z headed for one of the boulders to do some jumping. They took turns jumping from the boulder to the ground but, after talking with Karen, realized that they forgot to check the area.  They realized that they should be jumping in a different direction to be sure their landing area was safe. With this in mind, they chose a safer spot to land and continued with their jumping.

R and J decided to revisit climbing a different boulder with the help of a rope.  They knew where the rope needed to be tied and got the help of a teacher to make sure it was tied safely and securely.   Up they went, using the rope and their upper body strength to pull themselves up the boulder on their feet.

Later, some of their friends discovered the rope as well.  P knew just what to do as he mimicked the climbing he had done on Wednesday up the tree roots. D was right behind him to give it a try and found that, once he took his gloves off, he could climb the boulder with more success than he had on the tree two days before.  

Quite a few children came and went from this challenge and each waited for their turn as they watched their friends work their way to the top of the rock.

R and G once again made hanging hammocks their priority on Friday morning.  Instead of asking a teacher, however, they unrolled the hammocks and took them to where they wanted them hung.  With some encouragement from Chelsa, they both managed to sort out their hammocks and wrap the ropes on each end around trees before really needing any help.  This was really exciting for both of them and when asked what they thought of their hard work, each of them shared how proud of themselves they were with words and giant smiles.  R even offered his help to G once his own hammock had been tied. All of the teachers are very excited to see the independence and confidence that is growing amongst each of the forest kindergarteners through so many of such child initiated goals and tasks each day in the forest.  

In the mud kitchen, there was more than cooking going on Friday morning.  D was driving his car and offering rides to his friend as he sat on an old stump with his foot on a piece of wood which was the gas pedal for the vehicle. Beside him, P was picking up maple keys and digging them into the ground before standing up and stomping on them.  “I’m planting the maple keys to grow more trees” he explained to Lisa.

Finally, with kite flying fresh in our minds from Wednesday and a fairly steady breeze blowing yet more leaves from the trees,  we decided to to try our hand at getting the kites up into the sky once again. After discussing boundaries for being in the field together, we took turns and, to our delight, the kites went up!  The wind kept blowing just hard enough for us to keep them flying. There were a few crashes and retries but we really started to get the hang of it! And with each success came more excitement and more confidence as we even practised changing directions while running.  After a few tries, some of our friends wanted to return to the woods while others remained most of the morning, honing their kite flying skills. What a great way to end the week together.

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