Monday marked our last day in the forest as well as the beginning of our last week together in Forest School. Where has the past year gone? We made our way to the forest where we were excited to greet the flora and fauna with our good morning songs and cheers of “Good Morning Forest!”. At our circle, we read the book “The Giving Tree” by Shell Silverstein during which we reflected on what it means to to be a good friend.
We gathered together with our good friends before snack to snap some silly pictures of all of us together as a class. We smiled, we made funny faces and we, of course, gave ourselves moose antlers
Our morning took us to the the places and activities each of us enjoy the most, with some of our friends heading directly for the climbing tree, some running off to play in the “tiger hole” and yet others racing to the fallen log to play their favourite make believe games together.
R rediscovered a pile of branches and sticks and began moving them from location to another. Z came to see what was happening and to help and, in just a few minutes, they had decided that the sticks would make great building materials and that they were going to build a house. Not a big shelter, but a small house, perhaps for an animal. C joined them and they began leaning the sticks in different ways against a tree that they had agreed would make the best location.
When they found piles of pine needles on the ground, they used them to sprinkle on the floor of the house so it would be cozy. The branches that they had come from, R decided, would make excellent windows!
As each piece was added to the project, the children discussed it’s position and its purpose. When more children joined in, the same respect for one another’s ideas carried on. A second, smaller room was eventually added to the house and it was decided that it might be a perfect house for a fox. We wondered if, in fact, a fox might find it and move into it with it’s family. Many of our friends came to add their “personal touch” to the house before the morning was through. The project continued throughout the morning and evolved as the morning progressed. R turned his focus to a part of the project that required a LOT of hammering and a lot of time while J became the guard of the wonderful new building.
By the end of the morning, it was, in fact beautiful specimen of a fox mansion!
Our final morning in the woods together was filled with new discoveries in the form of bugs and worms, new skills and even some berries we hadn’t seen before in our forest.
We sure are going to miss these mornings together in the woods.
Wednesday morning we were filled to the brim with excitement. The day for our end of the year party with our families had finally come but we still had some work to do to prepare. Our kale chips were ready, as we had dehydrated those Tuesday morning in the dehydrators which was super cool. We still, however, had one very special treat to make for our families… Cookies! Not just any cookies, though. We worked in groups to measure the ingredients for our shortbread style cookies before letting Lisa mix everything up with the mixers. When the dough was ready, we took turns rolling it out to just the right thickness before carefully cutting them into circles with a cup. Then it was time to make them extra special. We had brought in some edible flowers and herbs from our garden and we used these to make the cookies beautifully unique. After a lot of work, the cookies went into the oven where they filled the building with a deliciously sweet smell that we couldn’t wait to taste them!
Despite the rainy start to the day, the cloud held back the rain for our families as they joined us at the centre and walked with us to our favourite place in the woods. We were so excited for them to see the place where we have been learning so much over the past year and that we talk about at home so very often. We shared with them our morning song, let them hear the birds that sing to us showed them the boundaries and places we love to explore.
We also took them on a walkabout through the trails we have come to love and know so well, sharing with them the plants we recognize, the story of the trees that were cut down and made into the mulch beneath our feet and, best of all, our river! The day was perfect for a few splashes in the mud and water but, although we invited our families to join us, they respectfully declined. On we went, through the trails, to our hollow log and, later, the field where, after a sprint to opposite end, our morning tour was complete.
We brought our families back to our classroom where we finally got to sit together and share stories and a snack together.. Especially those cookies. Were they ever yummy! Our party was done after a visit to the garden to show them all that we have been up to there. While it is time to say farewell to Forest School, it was so special to have our families, our friends and our forest all together. What a special end to a special year of learning.