After a weekend of record breaking heat, our first morning of forest school for the month of Autumn was no different. With a heat warning for the day and harvesting to do in our gardens, we made our way out into the garden to meet with Melissa and Jaz from Bufco who were waiting for us. They showed us all of the things in the garden that were ready to be harvested including ground cherries, cherry tomatoes, radishes and nasturtium seeds, showed us how to know they are ready and then how to harvest them. We got to work, at first, collecting ground cherries. We couldn’t believe how many there were. They were everywhere! Once we collected those, we moved on to the cherry tomatoes, filling up our bucket with the freshly picked fruits as we went.
We moved on to where the edible flowers were growing and found that they had seeds that, if picked, could be planted in the spring so, after tasting the flowers, we helped to collect those seeds as well.
After that, we moved on to the radishes. This was super fun as we didn’t know what was going to come up with each pull. Some of the radishes were large and some we smaller. ALL of them had stringy roots and dirt on them that had to be shaken off.
Despite the early time of day, the sun was very hot and we headed indoors to cool off and have some water before making a trip to the forest.
We decided to walk through the trails of the woods together and explore the rest of our forest. While the trees offered shade from the sun, the temperature in the woods was still very warm and the mosquitoes were very plentiful. To keep moving seemed to be the best approach to our explorations!
As soon as we entered the forest, however, we were greeted by a beautiful woodpecker, low on a tree, very close to where we decided to sit for a moment. We watched it for quite a while before it eventually flew up into higher branches.
We moved along, noticing the different types of trees around us, stopping to inspect a stump where a tree had been freshly cut and wondering who had cut it.
One very thin tree arched over the path near the end of our travels. R noticed that it looked like “a rainbow” as he lead us under it where we found a hollow log lying on the ground. We couldn’t leave this space without stopping to explore it thoroughly. Some of us hopped on top of it while others poked our heads in one end to see what was inside. We noticed that the whole thing was hollow and some of us were brave enough to crawl inside!!! It was hot in there so we didn’t stay in there very long. We talked about safety with regards to being inside the log and decided we would only look without submerging ourselves into the tunnel of it.
The mosquitoes and the heat enveloped us which told us it was time to move on. The sun hit us in the field and we knew right away that it was time to head back to the centre to cool off again. Although autumn had arrived, it certainly didn’t feel like it!
Wednesday morning offered more comfortable weather for our explorations so we headed to the forest where we recalled our conversation about the changing of the season before reading the book “Let It Fall” by Maryann Cocca-Leffler. We set off to see what the morning would offer us. R and J came across the rock they had worked hard to remove from a tree a little while ago and decided to try to tie the rock to a tree. This required a lot of planning, thinking, idea sharing and trial and error. Eventually, however, they managed to secure the rock quite tightly in place. The teachers tried to wiggle it free and it firmly held in place, and very difficult to budge!
Once the rock was in place, R stuck around and, right near where he was tying the ropes, he discovered first a baby snail on a leaf and then a teeny tiny inch worm. This was exciting! He put it on his hand and showed his friends. We couldn’t believe how fast it moved! This sparked a bug hunt! C and chelsa helped him turn over logs, rocks and leaves to see what they could find. Mostly, they found millipedes. All kinds of millipedes which he decided to collect and keep in a pot from the mud kitchen.
Michelle found a few really great creatures also. In some leaves on a small tree near where she was playing she found gold coloured beetle! None of us had seen this before or had any idea what it was. She also found a different strange bug that was unfamiliar to us. We decided that we would have some research to do in the classroom!
As more friends joined in the search, the interest took a bit of turn. J and Z had sticks in their hands and were marking in the dirt with them. Z said he was making his name. Chelsa asked him how to make a “Z” and he showed her. They worked together to print his name before he took a turn at printing it himself! His letters turned out great and he was very excited and proud of his name printing success. C was proud to show off the C she had printed and practised printing the other letters of her name
In the mud kitchen, O and M cooked up a storm, creating all kinds of treats to eat. As they cooked, J joined them and noticed a hole under the roots of a tree near by. He looked inside and wondered why it was there. Was it an animal home? He and Chelsa decided to build a shelter over it so that whatever was living there, which J decided was probably a frog, would be safe from bad weather. As they built, the chefs in the mud kitchen shared their burgers, juice and other “snacks” with them.
Our self confidence in the woods has grown so much in just a short period of time. We jump from rocks and logs confidently, and are noticing the abilities of ourselves and others. Some of us can climb a little more quickly, while others are learning to tie knots with more ease. Best of all is how we are learning to support our friends and cheer them on in the tasks they are learning to do each and every day.
Friday morning brought along some surprising freezing, wet and breezy weather. It was quite a shock compared to the heat warnings we had earlier in the week. We decided to get out our rain suits and make our way to the woods together. We couldn’t believe the temperature as the chilly, damp air nipped at our fingertips but we were excited to make our way to the forest. Some of us even ran to the woods once we got to the adjoining field!
In light of our bug discoveries on Wednesday, we decided to share the book “Some Bugs” by Angela Diterlizzi at our meeting area.
We didn’t sit for too long, however, as we needed to get moving to stay warm. We brought out the ropes and immediately got to work making a “car”, first with a boulder and then with the rope as we wrapped it around a small group of trees.
The damp, chilly weather made it difficult for us to use our hands as most of us hadn’t predicted this kind of weather so it wasn’t long before we decided to abandon the ropes, tuck our hands in our sleeves and go for a walk through the trails. We noticed the sounds the leaves made as they blew in the breeze and the sound the raindrops made on our hoods as we walked.
G found a very large feather which guessed belonged to a turkey since we have seen turkeys in the area.
When we emerged from the forest, back into the field, it was time to run again. We raced our friends and teachers, warming up as we went. The children made every decision about their morning including time spent out in the forest and the activities they participated in. When they finally were just too cold to continue, they decided it was time to leave. Ultimately, the best part of the morning, which was cut a little short due to weather, was the delicious reward of hot chocolate that awaited us when we returned to the centre!