News from the Wild #23

IMG_4732

We started out for Far Corner one day, but never made it past the giant Beech Tree (aka Pooh Tree). And that’s okay. Magic happens along the way.

The seasons they go round and round, and suddenly we find ourselves with summer round the bend. We asked the Oaks where they wanted to be sure to go, and what they really hoped to be able to do in our last two weeks of school. We made a list and day by day have been visiting those special places. The Ultimate Climber, The Campfire Circle, The Workshop, Far Corner and the Hollow Tree, the Pond, and Hilltop Home, of course. Choice is such a powerful thing to offer children. Where do you want to go? What do you want to do there?

IMG_0522

On a thunderstorm day, we started out in the Mansion, but as the storm passed, we offered a choice: go out in the rain or stay in?

IMG_4657

Thunderstorm day, playing the bird beak game (different beaks for different foods), after a tour of all the stuffed birds in the library to observe their beaks.

IMG_4660

After the storm passed, some Oaks chose to take stock of the creek in flood, while a few chose to stay dry inside the Mansion

IMG_4667

Dam removal engineers discuss the plan and roles

IMG_4663

Oaks visitor #1 swings across!

IMG_4662

Oaks visitor #2 builds a bridge

We have been talking to the children about their favorite places at Audubon. Some of the destinations above were favorites, but the one that surprised us was our Lunch Spot  – AKA The Stumps and Wobbly Logs. I had just read a blog post about the value of returning with children to the same place in nature over and over. To me, this was our outdoor classroom, Hilltop Home. And yet, our lunch spot is the place we spend the most time. We go there almost every day. We eat together and then as they finish eating, the children move off in twos and threes. They climb trees. They play in the old foundation. They look for tiny critters and mushrooms. They become superheroes or other imaginary characters. They play. And by playing in this one little patch of semi-wild, day after day, in all seasons, it becomes dear to their hearts. “There are so many different things to do there.”

IMG_0542

Time together in a tree

IMG_0543

Taking turns

IMG_4718

Teamwork to roll the wobbly log

IMG_0554

Hollow Tree acrobats

IMG_4696

Pirate captain on the lookout

There is value too in the new and unexplored. We found a few stones still left unturned..

IMG_4754

The Rock Mountains!

IMG_4753

Playing 1,2,3 Tree!

 

IMG_4737

Exploring leaves, all shapes and sizes.

IMG_4751

Favorite garden leaf – sorrel

IMG_4725

Tasty tulip petals

IMG_4724

Ants, birds, and butterflies like nectar and the Oaks do too!

Meanwhile at our other favorite haunt, Hilltop, new loose parts sparked new play.

IMG_0536

A bundle of hardy kiwi vines…

IMG_0538

Transformed this fort into a dragon…

IMG_4825

and these Oaks into equestrian princesses

IMG_4822

A stick makes a most excellent steed!

IMG_0537

We brought some math skills into the play at Hilltop. Cookies arranged just so.

IMG_0535

Patterning

IMG_4709

Patterning

IMG_4705

And counting

One of the children wished to go to the Ultimate Climber, and another wished for a game of Camouflage, so we hid and sought among the fallen trees. But first, we read one of the children’s favorite books, brought from home, about a tortoise whose burrow shelters many other living things. The story brought up the concept of a keystone species, and a discussion of intrinsic value (does it matter to humans that this special tortoise is so important to other animals?). Forest Kindergarten philosophy.

IMG_0545

You can read a story anywhere!

IMG_0546

Playing Camouflage. The seeker must stand in one spot and try to see the hiders.

IMG_4830

Entering the age of rule-bound play. They are using “eenie meenie” to choose who gets to be the seeker next. Their idea, their negotiation. Ready for the playground.

IMG_0553

“In the Workshop, we can build.” Adding a roof.

IMG_4843

Up in the Oaks-built roof under a leafy roof

IMG_4840

Favorite story time, about how you never forget a friend.

A fascinating thing happened at the Workshop this week that speaks to this sense of place, to the magic that happens when you return to a particular spot. This little corner of Woodend is likely only ever visited by the Oaks (and critters). It’s a hidden alcove with a few fallen trees surrounded by bush honeysuckle. You have to wade through tall grass to get there. Way back in October, a child started a simple game called Wheat Store. Collect grass seeds and “sell” them. Others joined. I introduced the idea of grinding the “wheat” on a stump. Today, as soon as they saw that particular stump, the game jumped back to life. Only this time it was bigger and better. More children got involved. The story grew. “We are a family living in another country and we have go gather the wheat and then grind it and then bake it and then take it to market to sell it. I’m the sister.” Each child had a role, in the family and the narrative. They added an oven, collecting bags, and myriad details, all negotiated with each other independently. It was beautiful and a testament to how much these children have grown.

IMG_0551

Gathering “wheat”

IMG_4845

Grinding wheat. This particular stump is linked in their collective minds to this game.

IMG_0550

The stump that started it all.

IMG_4860

You will need pouches to carry the grains to the shop and to market. “I know how to make a bag!”

With the warm weather, wildlife discoveries abounded.

IMG_4817

Garter snake!

IMG_4748

Brood X Cicada (visiting, not found at Woodend)

IMG_4722

Releasing wood frog tadpoles

IMG_4700

Checking for signs of the fox family

IMG_4857

Box turtle!

IMG_4854

Pride of the finder

img_4854.jpg

Pride of the finder

Opening Song: Make New Friends

Closing Poem: 

I’m unique.

In this whole world

There is no one else

Just like me.

Books we read:

The Adventures of Sophie Mouse: A New Friend by Poppy Green

Bimwili and the Zimwi by Verna Aardema

The Empty Lot by Dale Fife

At Home with the Gopher Tortoise – the Story of a Keystone Species by Madeleine Dunphy

Forget Me Not – Friendship Blossoms by Michael Broad

Dragons Love Tacos by Adam Rubin

 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s