As we launch our Forest Kindergarten year, we are fully focused on connections. We weave together activities that will connect the children to each other and to their school home at Woodend. “Is this my school?” asked one child as we hiked from the Ultimate Climber to the Mansion and back through the Meadow to the Oaks classroom. Yes! How lucky we are. We have a beautiful new classroom AND we have 40 + acres of wild space full of wonder.
And what better way to connect to the wild than through some forest friends…so we started our year with Mama and Papa Toad in the classroom, and soon the Oaks were finding toads of all sizes wherever we went.
We also found many slugs, a box turtle, a big millipede, centipedes and dragonfly larva.
We made ourselves at home in the Oaks play-yard and at the Oaks’ home base Hilltop Home. After reading the book Happy, the children made mud faces to show how they were feeling on the first week.
In just two weeks, we’ve also explored the Children’s Garden, Rain Garden, Bamboo Castle, Fire Circle and Chestnut Tree, the Meadow, the Pond, the fort woods near the mansion and the Ultimate Climber. And there’s still so much more to come!
While we help connect children to their home in the wild, we also support them as they forge connections to each other. Through play, they make plans, share ideas and language, negotiate roles, set limits, take turns, form friendships and so much more. Shared stories are one way we help connect children to each other and begin building our class community.
We read the book Not a Stick by Antoinette Portis, talked about ways you can play with sticks (and ways you can’t), then the Oaks wrote their own book showing what they would do with sticks.
There is time for solitude. Children also need space and time to listen to their inner voices, to observe, question, experiment, wonder, and express their own stories.
We brought two kinds of caterpillars into our classroom for the first day. The children observed the caterpillars over the last two weeks, drew pictures, and found their habitat in the meadow. They then imagined what the butterflies might look like and drew and painted pictures. And in the highlight of our week, we got to watch one monarch butterfly emerge today!
Books we read:
Happy by Miles van Hout
Up Down and All Around by Katherine Ayres
Roxaboxen by Alice McLerran
Not a Stick by Antoinette Portis
Jack in the Beanstalk
Play with Me by Marie Hall Ets
A Year Around the Great Oak by Gerda Muller