Forest School Farwell to Summer! Sept 18-22 2017

We started our second week at forest school and the last official week of summer with sticky, humid weather.   We decided to eat our snack before heading to the forest in hopes it would help us to avoid at least a few mosquito bites.  After reading “The Family Book” by Todd Parr, we were anxious to to share our plans for explorations before hurrying off to work.

Aside from mosquitoes, we happened upon all kinds of little critters throughout our explorations on Monday. There were some rather large bugs that resembled wasps that had their “stingers” stuck in a tree.  We learned that these were likely Horntail Wood Wasps and, while not the cutest bugs we have ever seen, are harmless to people. We also a found a single little lady bug.

The ropes were out and spread around the forest in no time.  We helped one another to pull, stretch, wrap and tie ropes as we worked together to make the ultimate “boobie trap”.

We practised our boulder climbing and we took care to “use two hands” so we didn’t fall, and Karen showed us something else really cool to do with a rope… she showed us how to make a swing!  She showed us the process of throwing the rope over a large branch, anchoring one end to a tree to hold it, tying it in place before using the rope to swing on. We couldn’t wait to give the swing a try!  We took turns getting onto and staying on the swing which took some figuring out at first but it proved to be a lot of fun for all of us. We waited patiently on one of our meeting area logs for our turn, watching as each of our friends figured how to use the swing in  a way that worked for them.

As we waited, some of us hung hammocks where we relaxed.  R dug out the “Blackflies” book we read last week to look through while he lounged.  Soon, P came to join him and, together, the went through the story in their own words over and over.

Some of us got out the markers, paper and clipboards and went to work, making pictures for our families and practising our names.  O printed his own name before asking how to make the letter “M” which is the first letter in his friend’s name. Chelsa showed him and then he practised.  They talked about how “Mommy” also starts with “M” and he asked how to spell it. Slowly, he printed out the word “Mommy” across the top of his page and proudly showed everyone he could!

Our creativity came out in other ways as we created “sausage” with our mud kitchen utensils,

played the role of “batman” as we moved through the woods and created a “slingshot”

and used stick “key” to unlock the climbing log’s “keyholes”.

M discovered a rock that was hiding in a hole in a tree and spent a very long time trying to remove it from the tree.  He first tried to use a small stick to remove it. When that didn’t work, he proceeded to use sticks of various lengths that he found in the forest.  

This activity caught the attention of D, J and J.  They started talking about what would be needed to remove the rock from this tree.  They found more branches of various shapes and sizes and tried them in the two different holes they could see.

When the sticks didn’t work, they discussed trying a log!  They found one and brought it over to the tree. But they couldn’t lift it high enough to give it a try.

Hmmm….what next?? M told Karen “I tried so many sticks, now I’m putting my hand in”.  He wasn’t having much luck so he let another friend try.

One hand wasn’t working so J tried to get it with two hands.  You can imagine the excitement when he got it out! Everyone cheered and congratulated each other on their hard work, problem solving and accomplishment!

Wednesday morning we were extremely excited to bring along our friend, Emily to the forest!  She taught some of us in our preschool program and we could not wait to spend the morning with her and show her our special place in the woods.  After sharing the story “The Gruffalo” by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffer, we eagerly told Emily all about how to stay safe in the forest. We showed our boundaries, discussed some safety rules and and then couldn’t wait to show her all of the stuff we can do!

R decided right away that he wanted to try to make a rope a swing.  He got the rope and went to the “swinging” branch where J asked if he could help. They went back and forth, taking turns trying to throw  the rope over the branch, pulling it back and helping to wind it back up for the next throw. They encouraged one another and cheered when they started to get close.  Their friends even came to watch and to cheer them on. Their persistence paid off! J had almost gotten the rope over the branch a few times and suddenly the rope went up with a huge throw and came back down on the other side of the branch!  Success!!! Everyone excitedly cheered and J and R gave each other a hug!

Together, they went through the next steps required to make the safe swing for swinging including tying the rope to a tree the hold it and making sure it wasn’t too low to the ground.  J even let R have the first turn on the swing! He then had a turn himself before sharing it with the rest of his friends.

Our boobie traps were once again constructed by Z and P who practised tying their “trap” to the trees on their own.

And our hammock area offered something new as well.  While we enjoyed relaxing and swaying in the hammocks, N also came up with something creative upon exiting one of them.  He lay on the dusty ground and started moving his arms and legs. “Chelsa, I made a snow angel. Well, it’s really a dirt angel” he said as got up and looked at what he had created.

Z and C loved the idea and they, too,  fell to the ground to create their own!

Finally, P and O got to work making burgers and mud cakes in the mud kitchen restaurant.  They had every pot and every pan laid out on the ground and more of their friends came to join their play.  

This is when we noticed  something else about our pots and pans.  They each made different sounds when we banged on them!  It came about by accident as we used the same utensil with different pots and then noticed the different sounds we made. Then we tested different utensils on each of the pots and found that they made even more sounds!  Finally, with the help of some demonstration from Chelsa, we noticed that they made a longer lasting sound if we held the edge of them or string them with a string. We learned that this was called “vibration”. We could hear it in the sound and feel it on our hands!

We showed Emily how to ring the bell that means it’s time to come together and showed her how well we tidy up our site.  Just like that, our morning was over and what a discovery filled and exciting morning it was!

In the classroom, the children have really been interested in the story “the Three Billy Goats Gruff”.  We decided to bring this literary interest into the forest with us Friday morning to experience it in a different way.  Karen had brought a copy of the book which were already familiar with but she also brought along the characters and backdrop of the story in felt form and we recognized them right away. She told the story to us using the felt pieces and we helped her as we tapped our legs saying “trip,trap, trip, trap” each time one of the goats crossed the bridge.  This was so fun and we were all very much engaged in the familiar tale.

When we dispersed from circle to do other things, many of us were interested in telling the story ourselves!  We shared the felt pieces and worked together to tell the story in our own words. We excitedly shared our stories with friends and with our teachers.

O took a particular interest in the felt pieces and spent much of the morning working with the pieces and making his story his own.

Our group is beginning to to show their own particular interests and skills within the forest as far as activities and explorations are concerned. J and R worked together to make a rope swing with much effort and, eventually, success!

They enjoyed the work they put into it so much, in fact, that, after they had a turn on the swing, they gathered more ropes to practise throwing over other branches on other trees in the forest.  This proved to be difficult but they had a lot of fun taking turns trying it out.

The swing, meanwhile, was used by their friends who practised swinging on the rope various ways from tucking it under their arms and lifting their feet, to trying put a foot in the loop to swing standing up!

We are curious to see how the use of the swing will evolve over the course of the forest school year!

Once again, our ropes were untangled and shared amongst friends who took on different roles in order to create boobie traps

and others took a closer look at things to discover a ladybug and notice the spider webs in the trees and what the webs held.

We have begun to continue our dramatic play experiences with each visit as R drives his “race car” tree and O opens his mud kitchen “restaurant” with each visit to the woods, offering his friends something different to “eat” each time we venture to the forest.

Before we left the forest, we came together to discuss the changing of the season.  We said goodbye to summer and talked about how Autumn would be here later that day. We discussed some of the changes that would happen as fall comes through our forest and are curious about the new and different things we will see, hear and smell as the season moves along.

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