What an exciting week we had at Woodend! As the cooler weather has blown our way, the Oaks have enjoyed noting the changes taking place in familiar spaces, as well as exploring some new spots around Audubon. We began our week at Hilltop Home, where the windy weekend had left many changes and downed branches for us to investigate. As we made our way to Hilltop, the Oaks made predictions about whether the wind had blown over our bamboo structure. We were pleased to find that the previous week’s hard work had paid off, and the structure remained standing! One particularly large branch, however, rested directly in the center of our Circle Meeting space. The Oaks quickly sprang into action, developing a plan to safely move it out of the way. The branch, a worthy opponent for just two Oaks, became increasingly easier to move as three, then four, then eventually all nine Oaks worked together to carry it! (Curriculum Connection: MCPS kindergarten objectives this week included noting the effects of wind on objects. Check!)
The Oaks spent time focusing on kindness as a theme this week. There are always ample opportunities to demonstrate this attribute, whether we are working as a group to move a heavy branch, respecting each other’s opinions as we cast votes about where to spend our day, or helping to strap a friend securely into a makeshift vine swing.
The middle of our week was spent exploring unseen parts of Woodend. After a group vote, the Oaks made their way to what was named the Twisty Tree Workshop. Low branches and sturdy logs provided a great space for climbing, as well as hidden homes for creatures, including a baby black rat snake and an entire family of slugs!
A longer hike on Wednesday gave the Oaks an opportunity to practice their navigation skills. As we continue to explore, we are becoming increasingly more familiar with Woodend, a skill which allows us to develop a mental image of how the spaces around us connect to one another. The Oaks used these “mental maps” to hike from Hilltop Home, past the Ultimate Climber, and down the concrete steps before making it to the outdoor classroom. Here, we were able to uncover and investigate a clutch of old snake eggs!
After our two days of exploring we returned to our Hilltop Home. Here, the Oaks were surprised to find notable changes to our space, including a roof which had been added to our bamboo shelter, tree cookies which had been moved around, and shelters which had been dismantled and rebuilt in new areas. Using these clues, we were able to infer that we must have had some visitors! We have been working hard to develop a cozy and inviting space at Hilltop Home, and realized that this must have been an appealing place to passersby! Circling back to our theme of kindness, we took this opportunity to discuss ways to explore and play while still respecting other people’s creations.
As some of the Oaks went to work repairing and rebuilding, others worked to create a booklet explaining the magic of our Hilltop Home! We invited visitors to enjoy our space and asked that as they do, they please take care to respect our hard work.
Friday brought another day of exploring, as the Oaks ventured across Jones Mill Road and into Rock Creek Park. We had been looking forward to our hike for days, and the excitement could be felt in the air as the Oaks’ giddy laughs and playfulness filled the morning!
The woods on the opposite side of Woodend offered many new discoveries, from mushrooms to hickory nuts, and even a giant stick fort! The Oaks were eager to explore and make guesses about how many children could fit inside, as well as to remind one another that, as with our forts at Hilltop Home, forts built by others should be treated with respect.
After crossing a bridge that led us closer to the creek, we came across a tasty surprise: persimmons! We talked about the best ways to find the ripe fruit, we gathered, cleaned, and tasted our treat. What a delicious morning snack!
Finally, after a long morning spent hiking, we made it down to the creek! We quickly noticed that we were not the first creatures to have visited the muddy banks, as we noticed interesting marks that had been left behind in the mud. The Oaks used their knowledge of animal tracks to make inferences about who may have been playing at the creek, and were able to identify deer, dog, and duck tracks. As it always does, the end of our day crept up on us, and it was time to begin our hike back to Audubon. Before saying farewell to the creek, the Oaks took turns stomping their own shoes into the mud, leaving behind human tracks!
Books this week:
Julia’s House for Lost Creatures by Ben Hatke
Grumpy Bird by Jeremy Tankard
Three Cheers for Ostrich by Francesca Simon
Big Tracks, Little Tracks by Millicent E. Selsam