Monday morning we all woke to a fresh blanket of snow! As you might guess, such a thing is cause for extreme amounts of excitement for our forest school friends! We threw on on our snow suits and got on on our way but we noticed that we didn’t have the wagon. Instead, Chelsa was carrying something else, something that made us curious. It was a red roll of something that many of us didn’t recognize. We stopped just outside of our forest and this is where we realized that the rolled up redness was, in fact, crazy carpets! Some of us didn’t know what they were for but we had no trouble putting together the fact that there was snow, a small hill behind us and four slippery mats waiting for us to test them out!
The first few runs down the hill took time. We had some difficulty squishing ourselves onto our carpets in our snow suits and hanging on with our chunky mittens. The snow was soft so the the carpets moved slowly down the hill at first. We were persistent though. Each turn down the hill got faster and faster and we went farther and farther. We started sharing our carpets with friends and teachers, cramming two people on at a time.
This, we noticed, made us go faster but also caused a lot more wipe outs which we were totally fine with and we laughed at ourselves as we rolled into the fresh snow after bailing from our crazy carpets. Up and down, up and down we went went. We were patient while we waited for our friends to go down the hill and get out of the way and took turns using the crazy carpets, mixing up who we rode down with.
C was even brave enough to ride down on her tummy! This brought out curiosity about different ways of riding the carpet down the hill including on our knees and even on our backs! Many of us experimented with this for much of the morning while others moved along to other things like shaking the snow off of the pines onto our heads, hiding in the darkness of the trees, rolling down the freshly powdered hill and even having a snowball fight! Making snowballs also proved to take some practise as we really had to squish that snow hard in order for it to stick and then try to hold it in one mittened hand for the big send off. We enjoyed attacking Michelle with dozens of snowballs the most!
Before we headed back to the centre, we went for a wintery walkabout to see what we could see. We did notice quite a few animal tracks in the snow. Some belonged to dogs that had been out for walks with their people but some, we guessed, came from squirrels. We noticed how these went from tree to tree, disappearing at each tree trunk. We also chanced to see a squirrel, right where we had seen one before. It was having a snack in the exact same way and we wondered if it was the same squirrel we had seen before.
The river was back but we noticed that there was snow around and even on top of it. We steered very clear of this as we knew that it must very cold water. Too cold to chance falling into.
We left the woods and followed the zig zag tracks made by our teachers in the snow, across the field and around some trees to where some of us plunked down into the soft snow to make snow angels while we waited for the rest of our friends to catch up! What a great wintery way to start our week.
Wednesday morning we made our way quickly through the snow to the forest where we couldn’t wait to get busy! Along the way, we shared some interesting conversation including P letting Lisa know that he wanted to be a clown when he grows up. She was surprised but listened as he explained how he would like to be a clown… or maybe a an astronaut. She told him that he could be whatever he liked! Once in the woods, we noticed that we could see the sky through the tops of the trees as all of the leaves are gone and we also noticed a couple of squirrels hanging out in the trees above our heads. There were even some animal tracks in the dusting of snow on our favourite climbing log.
We set off in different directions, with M and some of his friends heading directly for the “batmobile” they had worked on before. They noticed that it needed some fixing and they went to work picking up and resetting the large logs against the tree.
They needed some more so J and Chelsa went to search for some. They were careful around the baby trees off of the path as they found a few really great branches, perfect for M’s bat mobile. J helped to carry and deliver the branches and even to get some placed up against the tree.
For much of the morning, M worked away, perfecting his creation, very patiently leaning various sizes of wood in particular places.
Michelle and Chelsa noticed the meeting area needed a little help as well and they set out to find some better logs for sitting on. Chelsa found one and, when she rolled it, she, G and C noticed that there were bugs and worms on the bottom. They looked at the little critters closely and noticed that the “worms” were sort of see through! They wondered why this was or what they were. They also noticed some teeny tiny pill bugs hiding there.
This brought up a discussion about how some creatures sleep in warm places over the winter and how this was called hibernation. They carefully rolled the log into place, making sure to place the side with the bugs at the bottom so they would stay warm. Michelle found a second log farther away from the seating area. It was pretty heavy so we observed while she managed to get it free from where it was before working with Chelsa to get it to the meeting area. Now, are meeting area was complete! All it was missing was a fire. With this, the children went in all directions to gather rocks to place around the fire and sticks and leaves to act as their make believe fire!
Even though the fire wasn’t real, it sure was cozy sitting there all together so Karen thought she would share a story with us. We were all excited to hear her story and recognized it when it began. The Three Billy Goats Gruff! And we all joined in, helping to make the sound effects as we tapped our legs and giggled. When the story was over, we talked a little bit about fire and how to be safe around fire. We also practised how to move when we are around fire so that we would be safe when we have our real fires at the centre.
When we dispersed again, some of us went back to our original work. Others, however, came up with a really great new game that they made up. O, R, G, J, A and C gathered the rocks from around the “fire pit” and took them to the boulder beside the meeting area. They watched as they let the rocks roll down the boulder to the centre of the meeting area. They each adopted a rock of their own and then began taking turns rolling their rock down the boulder, attempting to hit the “fire pit”. This proved to be more difficult than they expected and, soon, they decided to dismantle the fire pit and move the whole thing closer to the boulder. Again, they took turns rolling their rocks down the boulder with a little more success at their original goal. They waited for each child to be finished rolling before retrieving their rocks to be sure no one got hurt.
With this, our wednesday morning came to a close. It was time to end another morning in the woods.
Finally, Mother Nature sent some sunshine our way Friday morning. The air was chilly but the sun was a nice touch to a morning spent amongst the trees. Right away we noticed that our “bat mobile” was still standing and not all damaged which was an exciting discovery. Many of us couldn’t wait to get to work adding to it and playing in it. M went right to work adding pieces to the walls of the structure and his friend weren’t far behind, offering their help as well.
N particularly like the atmosphere inside the structure and found himself spending much of the morning there engaging in pretend play. Michelle helped to make it even more cool by adding some blankets to the top of the structure, making it seem a little more tent like.
Farther off, in what has now become known as “the lion hole”, R, M and D were engaged in a dramatic play experience of their own. They were a family of baby birds and the hole was their nest. They shared the space which very soon turned into baby birds in a bubble bath. R announced “I will go put on some music” and he abruptly got up from the hole walked behind a tree and became the music as he sang a popular song that he knew from the radio.
Strangely enough, music returned to the area later in the morning in the form of pots, pans and spoons and J used them as instruments, banging loudly for all to hear.
Naturally, the pots and pans were also used to create delicious treats as well.
After finding the bugs and worms while building the batmobile on Wednesday, J, Z, N and and C were interested in searching for more. They recalled looking under logs and remembered that that’s where they like to keep warm so they worked together to find logs they thought may be homes to hiding critters. Some of the logs revealed nothing other than dirt and funny little mushrooms, but some gave them a glimpse here and there of a worm or a tiny bug. One piece of wood, however, once turned over turned out to be the jackpot find of about 50 pill bugs of all different sizes. This was super exciting after all of their efforts and they showed anyone who would have a look. When they were finished observing, they carefully tucked the wood back where they found it so the bugs would be warm.
When they tired of critter hunting, some them decided to become critters themselves, asking Karen to tie ropes around their waists so they would have tails of their own. They spent the next little while running through the trees together with their tails flapping behind them.
Lisa and and some of our friends had a long conversation about letter sounds while they sat in the sunshine. Lisa would say classmate’s name and then their last name and the children would try to guess what the classmate’s last name started with. Listening in, Chelsa was was surprised and proud to hear the children use the sounds they heard to identify the first letters of their friends’ names. Some took some team work but each was figured out correctly. Beside them, as they chatted and the morning began to wind down, P found mud where the sun had thawed some of the earth. He decided to use it to paint the boulder with it. A few of his friends joined in and one of them even had a paint brush. Together they worked at colouring the whole rock until the tidy up bell rang out and it was time to finish off our week together in the woods.