News from the Wild – Week 4


Using a loupe to look at a mushroom

What a glorious autumn week! To celebrate October, we added a new song to open circle and a new poem to close our day:


Little leaves fall softly down
Red and yellow, orange and brown
Whirling, twirling round and round
Falling softly to the ground
Little leaves fall softly down                              Red and yellow, orange and brown
(sung to the tune of Twinkle, Twinkle)

Just Me (from Lady Bug Magazine)
Sweet day,
Peaceful wind
soft ground.
Just me,
where I want to be,

We spent the first part of the week up at Hilltop Home, where all kinds of magic happens. The Oaks gathered and mixed magic potions in their bamboo potion bottles (seeking out a few of the coveted bleeding fairy helmet mushrooms, which might make you invisible if mixed with the right ingredients), experimented with bamboo music on an improvised xylophone, continued working on forts (one now includes a special room for “dangerous things”), sawed tiny fairy tree cookies so the fairies could hold their own circle meeting, and played ever-changing versions of insect family (small-world play) and fairy family.

This social dramatic play is so important to the development of the robust oral language and other building-block skills needed for reading. The children make their own stories, figure out characters/roles, invent troubles and how to solve them. It is also how the children connect to one another, learn to negotiate and solve problems, practice flexibility, and develop empathy. You can’t play these games alone.

Some of the children gravitate towards projects, either alone or in pairs.  If you watch a child totally absorbed in this kind of activity, it’s clear that it is serious work. It requires creative thinking, invention, and the ability to focus on a task. One of the most important goals of education is the development of executive function, a set of cognitive skills that include the ability to plan, organize, and make decisions. You cannot build a “dangerous things” addition to a stick fort without all kinds of design, planning and decision-making.


Discussing the ingredients for magic potions.


Bamboo music


Hammering. Work=play=work


Dismantling the raft for parts


Counting votes for the question of the day. Y stick for YES, they all like swimming


Cleaning the chalkboard slate


Insect family dramatic play (dressed as fairy super heroes)


Teamwork sawing, fine-motor work using both sides of the body (this indicates that both sides of the brain are communicating effectively)


Hard at work on their fort


A visit from Stephanie! Getting the fairies into their capes/wings. A fairy must have excellent balance.


Magic potion # 9 (she made these all week!)

On Thursday, we left the wagon at Hilltop and headed out into unknown territory. Our goal was to reach the Far Corner of Woodend. “Do you think we are we lost?” asked one child to another. “I hope so!” the second replied. Adventure can be created so easily. A large depression in the ground could be a giant footprint, but it can definitely be a great hidey-hole if you are really still and quiet. We found several hollow trees, including one we could see straight through. At Far Corner, we played Meet a Tree. In this activity, one child leads another blindfolded child carefully through the woods, talking her over obstacles, until they reach a tree. The blindfolded child feels the tree carefully. After being led back to the start, she must remove the blindfold and find her tree. Integration of the senses, awareness of the sizes, shapes and textures of trees, and so much fun.


Climbing out of the hidey hole


Can you see me?


I can see you!



Trust walks in turns


Meeting her tree

We spent Friday morning at Hilltop. The Oaks found golden nuggets (painted acorns and chestnuts) hidden all around the site. Maybe pirates lost their treasure? Maybe fairies hid the gold? Either way, the Oaks have been needing money for their games. Loose parts like these are super tools for sorting, counting and imaginary play.



The six-legged team did journals. The building crew worked on a mini-shelter out of bamboo, which we’ll continue to shore up next week. img_0061


Now it just needs a roof and walls and….


Designing shelters in his journal


Quiet journalling

Other treasured moments – the finding of a toad in a stick fort and sneaking up on a young buck on our way back to the school.



Close encounter!

Books this week:

Beautiful Oops by Barney Saltzberg

Iktomi and the Boulder by Paul Goble

The Bog Baby by Jeanne Willis

Have You Seen Trees? by Joanne Oppenheim

Oaks Class Book by the Oaks

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