Warm Sunshine & Murky Water (May 14-18 2018)

Monday morning brought warmth and sunshine to the forest for us to enjoy.   We could hear all kinds of birds above us and,on the ground, there was a lot to notice as well.  We shared a story about different kinds of bugs before snack when we also discussed our walkathon for Sick Kids Hospital which would be held the following day.  We were really excited to share our costume ideas with the Animals and Insect theme in mind!

The ground between the paths was covered with all kinds of new foliage.  The warm weekend must have helped to get things growing as there were several new kinds of flowers to see, smell and identify.  C went right for one of the bins from the wagon to fetch the identification cards and books before heading towards the sea of new flowers around us.  She quickly identified the white trillium and then noticed that there were purple flowers that looked the same. She realized, soon, that they were the same type of flower, just a different colour.  She couldn’t wait to share this discovery with her friends.

She took Karen on a flower hunt and they were both delighted find yet another purple flower.  A little bit of researched told them it was a violet!

There were all kinds of flowers in all kinds of colours in different stages of blooming. Some were hard to identify and might need to open up a bit more before we can be sure what they are exactly.  Our foliage discoveries seem to be getting more exciting with each spring visit to the forest!

Our hammocks were out, up and swaying in no time as we worked with the teachers to hang them before sharing them with friends.  We are really beginning to believe in the skills we have been practising with regards to untangling ropes, locating safe places to hang ropes and hammocks and working with friends to get the bulk of the job done before needing assistance from a teacher to make sure things are safe and strong enough to hold our bodies.

Along with this, our confidence in climbing and balancing is growing by the day.  We have become so confident in our climbing and balancing, requiring less help from adults, as we make our way over uneven surfaces of logs and leap to land on the solid ground below. Sometimes we fall, but we have become very resilient and are trying again before too long.

Our clipboards were brought out and R began printing.  First he printed his name and then he asked Lisa for a little help with something else. One by one, he chose different friends’ names to spell from our class. As Lisa spelled the names verbally, he printed them, letter by letter.  He got stuck on a few less familiar letters but kept at it until his entire paper was filled with the names of his classmates. A few other children joined in the printing practise and, before long, we ran out of paper. Chelsa offered up a rather less conventional but pretty fun solution. We had been noticing how smooth the underside of the bark was that had come off of the large fallen branch at our site. With a few pieces sitting nearby, she asked R if he wanted to practise his printing on there. At first, he thought it was silly but, when he tested it out,  he realized it worked! Soon, some of the other children were interested in this activity as well and a search for fresh clean bark ensued. The children helped to find the bark and Chelsa helped them to break into pieces for sharing. Before long, many of us had a spot of our own and a piece of bark of our own and were practising printing our names.

While the activity spread through the group, R and Chelsa realized they may need more bark.  They headed to to where they had seen some loose bark on the fallen tree to see if they could pull it off.  When this proved to be too difficult, Chelsa poked a stick between the bark and the tree. R grabbed a stick and started hammering.  Slowly, the gap between the two widened. Slowly, the bark pulled away from the trunk. They worked together to pull at the bark but it just wouldn’t come off.  They decided they would have to come up with another plan.

While the bark removal wasn’t successful, the children decided to bring all of the pieces back we did have, back to the centre where we have come up with a really great plan for them.  Wait until you see what we are creating!

Before we went to the forest Wednesday morning, we went out the very back of the playground to see something special.  Some of our friends had found it Tuesday afternoon and were excited to share it with everyone else. We went to the far fence and there it was… an egg!

It was white and it looked just like  the chicken eggs in the incubator in our classroom. Where did it come from? How did it get there? What layed it? This was a mystery!! J wondered if it was left by a chicken but then he realized we don’t have chickens at Discovery and there are no farms nearby.  Z wondered if it fell from a tree but then we wondered if it had fallen, why wasn’t it broken? G guessed that it was maybe laid by turkey because it was so big. When the question of robin eggs arose, Lisa reminded us about the robin eggs we saw and remembered that those had been blue and much smaller.  P wondered if some kind of bird came to the yard, laid the egg and was off getting food somewhere. Maybe this was a nest, he thought! We didn’t have all of the answers to our questions before we headed to the forest but we were very curious to see what happens next. Will it hatch like the ones in our classroom?  What will come out?

With these curiosities in mind, we made our way to the forest where we shared the fun story “The Treehouse that Jack Built” by _____ and enjoyed snack together.

We got right to work hanging our swing and our hammocks and we couldn’t help but notice that the sunshine wasn’t shining through the trees quite as much as it had on Monday. We talked a little about the growing leaves and how Tuesday’s rain was making everything green.

Lindsay was along with us for the morning and we couldn’t wait to show her all of the changes that have been happening the forest around us over the past couple of weeks.

With the changes happening at our site, we wondered how much the rest of the forest had changed as well, so we agreed that it would be fun to take to the trails and see what has been happening. Along the trails, we stopped to notice small holes in the ground, many new plants and, most excitingly, large patches of the red trilliums that were less abundant in our regular place in the woods.

We also noticed that the layers of wood chips on the ground softened our steps and felt “squishy” beneath our feet so we we hopped along this part of the trail, feeling the difference in the soft landing compared the to packed forest floor we’ve come to know. One of the trees with so many woodpecker holes had fallen. It was right across our path and impossible not to notice. R guessed that it had come down in the wind storm a few weeks back.  We discussed going around the bottom of the tree as opposed to under it and Z remembered that “it could fall and hurt us” if we were to go under.

You can imagine our absolute pure excitement when we reached the river and there was lots of mud and water to explore.  Chelsa and R checked how deep it was with a long stick and we all talked about what would happen if we decided to go into the water to explore. “We might get wet socks”, “We will get splashed” “We will lose a boot in the mud” and “We can slip” were some of the natural consequences of the activity. Accepting these possibilities, in we went!  Slowly at first, “fishing” with sticks for leaves and then gradually moving deeper into the rather smelly water. One boot got filled up… and then another.. And then one got stuck in the mud… and then another. Soon, we were knee deep in the murky water, splashing and sloshing along. Soon, a rock became a jumping platform and we leapt into the water, laughing and squealing as it splashed onto our faces, leaving behind “mud freckles” on us all.

Some of us scooted across the water on a log, slowly on our bottoms from one side to another, stopping to see what may or may not be in the water below.

Not one foot was dry by the time we made our way back to the centre.  Boots needed to be dumped and most outfits needed to be changed. We were soaked and smelly but so very happy.  Spring in Forest School is going to be the best!

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