Mud Season Begins

Today felt like the woods are starting to thaw out. It was a calm 34 degrees at our fire circle. The ground is soft in places, there is mud in the “river,” and the air smells damp and earthy.

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(It was a hectic day! The beginning of Mud Season means Grundens AND snowpants, or just Grundens, which meant that dressing and undressing took us much longer than usual. I also had the first session of Bowdoinham Buds, where the incoming Kindergartners come visit while the current Kinders are at Specials, so we had to rearrange our schedule… which meant, not much time for a blog. But the kids shared their play and nature notes with me, and I am diligently recording it here for you.)

Jeremy joined us in the woods to tend our fire, and he brought his daughter Rose, an incoming Kindergartner who is friends with Mollie, Reuben, and Josie. We thought we might not need a fire, since it felt so warm, but after sitting and eating lunch the fire sure felt good. I think it will be nice to have for at least a few more weeks.

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Reuben helping with the fire. (Jeremy is in the background!)

Some things we did in the woods: Reuben collected sticks and broke them up with Rose. Josie, Mollie, Ella, Olivia, and Beatrice played in the mud down by the “river.” Josie, Mollie, and Ella were pretending they were pigs, like the pigs in the book Pigs in the Rud. Josie pretended she was taking a bath. Henry played down by the mud too, and he made a soup in a little hole in the ice, throwing in “nature things” like sticks, ice chunks, and pine cones. Olivia also went on an expedition to find a bobcat, and she recruited Malaky and Beatrice to help her. They carried sticks to protect themselves, and were walking around the woods very quietly so as not to scare away any bobcats. Jaydon, Malaky, and Hugh played zombie fighters and they had different kinds of weapons to fight off the zombies. Hugh carried around a huge, heavy stick that was his weapon. Aisley and Alexis dug in Alexis’s Sit Spot and found a hole that they thought might be an ant hole.

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Aisley and Alexis’ hole.

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Sitting in the mud river: “We love mud!”

At the end of our time, a few friends found a HUGE stick (really a small dead tree), pulled it out of the ground, and were carrying it around. Soon more people started helping and they decided they wanted to dig a new hole, fill it with snow that would turn to water, and replant the tree. This will be a project to be continued next time…

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The tree

Some nature notes: Hugh and Henry found a gall. At first they wanted to open it to see the grub, but then when I reminded them that would kill the grub they decided not to. We found lots of deer tracks and scat. We found crow tracks. Someone saw a chickadee.

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Gall

Looking forward to getting back to our woods next week!

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Remembering our Friend Carol

Today in the woods, there was lots of snow on the ground. It was a little chilly. It was 32 degrees which is in between warm and cold. It was very still and not windy, which is always surprising on up our hill. The clouds were filling the whole sky. During our time, it also started snowing. The snowflakes were tiny.

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It was hard for Ella to get out of the river, but Beatrice gave her a tip:”Put your foot on that stick!”

Reuben’s dad Reeve joined us in the woods today. He tended our fire. He also brought us chocolate chip pumpkin muffins for Reuben’s birthday circle. Hugh and Reuben were helping tend the fire, and they used the Morning Message which was made of paper for the tinder.

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“Why does this fire have no smoke?” asked Josie. It was because the wood was dry. Sometimes we use wood that is damp and our fires are smokier.

Most of us found our Sit Spots without a problem, despite the new snow covering them up. Aisley and Alexis were looking for clay in Aisley’s Sit Spot but they couldn’t find any because there was too much snow. Alexis dug in her Sit Spot too and there was lots of dirt coming out. At Henry’s J and Y trees, he noticed a plant in front that looked like a baby Y. Josie noticed that the sticks were starting to die on her Sit Spot. They were getting more wiggly. She also found something that looked like it would be a lever but then it turned out to be a giant stick. Beatrice found a big stick that looked like a Y and she added it to her Sit Spot fort. (See kids in their Sit Spots below.)

After Sit Spots, Aisley found some tracks that she thought were from a wild cat. Then Hugh said they were turkey tracks. Ms. Atkins said that turkeys have three toes, but cats have four and they are round. Alexis, Aisley, Kinslee, and Hugh followed the tracks all the way down one hill and up another! They didn’t find the turkey though.

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Turkey tracks!

Ella climbed up the big climbing tree again. Beatrice, Alexis, Mollie, Henry, Olivia, and Jaydon also climbed in that tree. Henry and Hugh found these sticks that looked like swords. They played over near another big tree that is Hugh’s Sit Spot. Beatrice played Pokemon with Olivia. Jaydon played Home with Henry and Olivia and Mollie and Ella. He was the lava brother person who shot lava at pretend bad guys. But he didn’t hurt his family.

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The sad part of our Forest Friday was that Mollie’s grandma Carol died this week. She had been our Fire Tender many times. Today we got some pieces of nature that reminded us of what she did. Ms. Atkins made a memory box for Carol and we could put everything she used to love in the memory box. And we made pictures to put in there too. We are sad that Carol is not part of our Forest Fridays anymore, but she will be alive in our hearts forever.

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Carol’s Memory Box

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A drawing Carol did of Hugh the day he discovered the big climbing tree. She loved being  a part of our Forest Fridays as much as we loved her.

Finding Our Sit Spots

It was 26 degrees in the woods today. It was very cloudy. The whole sky was clouds. There wasn’t much wind so it did not feel that cold. It was so quiet that we could hear the highway.

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These Forest Kids are getting to be such strong hikers. They even carried water jugs the whole way so we could use them to put out our fire.

Mollie’s Grandma Carol met us in the woods. She helped us make the fire. Miss Eve was our other guest. She was really nice and she was Mrs. Fournier’s friend.

Today we got our Sit Spots for the first time. A Sit Spot is a place where we sit and play with some things (sticks, leaves, pine cones). Then when Ms. Atkins says, “Ca-caw, ca-caw!” we sit still and listen for sounds. Some kids close their eyes. Then when Ms. Atkins says the sound again, we can come out.

Our Sit Spots are about 20 feet apart and they are small. Some of us leaned against trees.

Reuben, Kinslee, Beatrice, Malaky, and Olivia made forts in their Sit Spots.

Ella’s spot was a fort that was already there. There was also a tree that she could lean her back against. There were lots of pine needles and sticks.

Josie’s Sit Spot is big log with a stick that can wiggle but it is still attached. She doesn’t know how to get it off. She jumps on it.

Jaydon brought some sticks to his Sit Spot. But he lost them so he needs to get some new ones so he can protect himself.

Kinslee’s Sit Spot was really comfortable.

Aisley was digging a hole in her Sit Spot with Alexis and Hugh and they found some dried up clay.

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Aisley digging in her Sit Spot

Mollie’s Sit Spot felt like a bed. She and Ella were pretending they had bunk beds for their Sit Spots.

Henry’s Sit Spot was a J-tree that was attached to a Y. He sat on the curvy part of the J. This tiny stick was next to his J and my Y and he used it to play a game.

Olivia’s Sit Spot is decorated, but she is not finished with the decorating. She’ll tell us more when we go back next time.

Here is a list of some of our nature observations:

  • Malaky saw some pussy willows on our walk
  • Josie noticed some broken sticks in her Sit Spot
  • Aisley found a gall
  • Olivia found some fluffy lichen and a leaf she calls “deer grass”
  • Ms. Atkins found deer tracks
  • Alexis found crow tracks
  • Ella found a black feather
  • Jaydon found a stick that is shaped like a bow and arrow
  • Malaky found an axe stick
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Crow tracks! We saw the crow walking and then fly off.

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The crow was eating these pieces of apple.

 

(I also want to add that today was a day especially full of kindness and helping. Friends helped each other with mittens and backpacks. Kinslee and Reuben worked together to get big sticks up to their fort building projects. And everyone is working hard to help people when they fall down on our hike, not getting front of someone in line, and not getting upset when other people run past you in line!)

A Chilly, Tree-Climbing, Sliding Day

It was very cold in the woods today.  It was 24 degrees. The clouds were white and gray and they covered the whole sky, but they were thin. The sun was still bright. It was windy.

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Using walking sticks on our hike.

Many of us noticed that there was less snow on the ground. Josie thinks it’s because it’s almost spring. Aisley thinks it’s because the snow all melted.

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Our mud hole from the fall is all frozen.

Our guests were Carol and Mr. Seth. They both made the fire. Josie and Hugh helped get some wood. Mr. Seth helped us put out the fire too. He used his two water bottles because there was not much snow up in the woods..

On our hike, Beatrice noticed long sticks that were very fuzzy. Ella thinks they were cattails. Beatrice says they were longer than cattails. Olivia says they remind her of a panther’s tail. Maybe we could call them “fuzzy branches.” They might have been the ones that got down Ella’s back under her coat! They were prickly.

Olivia found some pine cones and she played with them. Jaydon found a tiny pinecone but he thought it might be a zombie egg. He thinks it might grow big and something could come out of it, like a spider. It might be an egg in real life.

We also found another deer track! It looked like a baby deer track because it was so little.

Jaydon played zombies in the woods. He does this by putting out his hands out and making zombie noises. Aisley, Alexis, and Hugh were trying to find a home. Reuben played Babies with Mollie, Ella, Kinslee, Alexis, and Aisley. There were three babies and the rest were Moms and Dads who take care of the babies. Malaky played that he was the kitty cat and Olivia was the coyote.

The sliding hill was really slippery today and Kinslee, Malaky, Jaydon, Henry, and Josie went down a new part of it.

(Ms. Atkins takes over here, since we ran out of time…)

Hugh also discovered a new tree to climb. It was a big white pine near the fire circle. While we were playing Sleeping Hare, he climbed up and stayed perfectly still! When I was being the coyote, sniffing around and looking for hares that were moving, he didn’t move a muscle. I even pretended to try and climb up in the tree with him, using his arms and legs for handholds. Later, many other kids tried the tree too. The kindergarteners are working on remembering to ask an adult if they can climb, so that the adults’ eyes can be on them for safety.

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Hugh hiding, being very still, in his tree.

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“Where are those snowshoe hares?” I just CANNOT find them!

When we play this game, Sleeping Hare, everybody is so good at staying motionless, either standing like a tree or curled up in a ball on the ground. It shows how comfortable they are in the woods these days. Mollie said that she was “just taking a nap!”

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Reuben and Malaky playing Sleeping Hare.

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Beatrice playing Sleeping Hare, being… a tree… (and can you find Alexis?)