A chilly, overcast December has greeted us, but we were happy to have the dusting of snow from last night. Our sliding hill got so much use that it is now hard-packed, clay-smooth, frozen dirt. (Sorry about all the dirty jackets and snowpants…)
The high was 29 in the woods today. We had a much-needed fire, and Nora’s dad, Mr. Smaha, came out to be our fire tender.
A highlight of the day:
You can see that we are working hard to draw with realistic detail AND to hear more of the sounds in our words.
In Real Life (and, bonus, you can see the tree that has been excavated by woodpeckers over the years in the background!)
Our little woodpecker close up. We learned today about the difference between male and female woodpeckers. This one is a male because of the red on the back of his head.
What a wonderfully warm and sunny Forest Monday! We decided not to have a fire because it was a bit windy and with no snow on the ground, sparks are a risk. But we stayed warm by playing hard and eating all of our lunches.
This was our second time at our Sit Spots. We used a string (which you can see in the picture) to measure a tree near or at our Sit Spot. We then used these in math to compare with a ruler and a yardstick. We discovered that we have a lot of large trees in our woods and fewer small trees.
At our Phonics station, we started working on an alphabet chart for the woods. Part of our work right now as Word Scientists is to study not just one alphabet chart, but lots of different ones. Ms. Atkins & Mrs. Johnson did some further research to come up with objects for a few more letters, but we were still stuck on “z” and “u.” If anyone has an idea, pass it along!
30 degrees was our low this week in the woods and with no sun, it certainly felt cold! We cozied up in our new Sit Spots though. Each child chose a spot that they will return to each week to sit and observe the woods around them.
Hunter’s Sit Spot
Vincent and Mrs. Gray lying in his Sit Spot.
Amelie and Gemma using a “drill” that they’d made out of a stump!
But all the Forest Kids agreed that the highlight of our day was having our first fire. Miss Karen, our volunteer, was the official fire tender. The kids helped gather wood and break it up into small pieces. There was a lot of smoke (as you can see from the picture)! The rope around the rocks is the boundary that kids stay behind. Our fire helped us stay happy and warm in the woods on a chilly and drizzly day.
A great time had by all as we roll into November. It was hot in the sun when we first arrived, but by the end of our time when the sun had moved beyond the trees, the shady 49 degrees felt very chilly.
Leon found a new way to climb little trees with tiny branches poking out.
And then Noel climbed a HUGE oak. He found a hole where squirrels or maybe chipmunks might live. When he thought he couldn’t get down, Braxton brought him a “ladder” (really a big stick!) to try and help.
We discovered a new big log to climb on today. Beyond it was a tiny stream (mostly mud, but it was still exciting!). We didn’t play near the mud because we didn’t have Grundens on today.
The log in real life color.
“Think of one thing you played and one thing you noticed in nature today. Hand on your head when you are ready to tell your partner.”
Do kindergarteners stay inside when it’s wet and misty? Goodness no! Our second bunch of Grundens is on its way, so not everyone had them. But we still had a great time. Some of us even saw a chipmunk on our hike! We learned about how we stay warm outdoors, by moving our bodies, wearing warm clothes, and making a fire. We didn’t make a fire today but we learned about them and practiced using our boundary rope around the rock fire circle.
Nora: “Leaf and acorn.” You can see the rain all around.
Hayden: “I found a grasshopper. He jumped off Jackson’s hand.” He wrote a “G” for grasshopper and you can see the circles where the grasshopper was jumping down.
Jack: “We were playing in the den.” He labeled “River” “Jack” and “Logan”
Our shared writing. Labels: “tree,” “clouds,” “rain,” “leaves,” “boots,” and “stream.”
We had a balmy and summer-like Forest Monday, with kids in t-shirts some of the time! It doesn’t get better than that in October. Our science question was: “What kind of animals use our forest to survive? What kind of animals can we find in the forest?” We looked under logs and many of our Forest Journals reflect that.
Logan: “Daddy worm and baby worm.”
Laurel: “We found worms in their houses.” (Under logs, which you can see in her drawing). She labeled worms with “w”s and you can see how the arrows show where they live and how the log goes back down.
Astrid: “Roly-poly under a magnifying glass.” We found a lot of these under logs (roly-polies, pill bugs, sow bugs, isopods, whatever you call them!) and Astrid chose to draw hers zoomed in.
Rowen’s Forest Journal. You can see where he labeled with the beginning sounds!
There was a delay in getting this blog up because after school on Monday we hosted a meeting of the Outdoor Learning Network, a group of teachers in MSAD 75 and Brunswick who are learning together about teaching and learning outdoors. We are organized by CREA, the Cathance River Education Alliance, our local place-based education center. Mrs. Johnson and I got to show off our outdoor classroom to other teachers, and we had a fruitful discussion about what we are all up to this fall. I feel so lucky to have this community of teachers to learn alongside!
The apple tree by the garden is still providing tasty apples. We look for ones that aren’t mushy! And we are careful of the yellow jackets who are still enjoying apples too.
“Sleeping Hare” is a game that gives us practice being quiet and still in the woods. Can you see Hayden peeking out from behind these leaves?
One group of Forest Kids was digging out an underground home.
Another group of Forest Kids was a family of bunnies.
Our shared writing. We learned about this rain gear and how to put it on and take it off today.
Emilia’s writing: “I was playing on a log and pretending it was a unicorn.” You can see where she wrote her friends’ names who were playing with her.
Jack: “We were digging an underground hole.” You can see where he wrote Lyndon’s name and an “M” for “me” and “an M for him too” (as he described).
Silas: “I was fighting a monster with Hayden and Emilia.” He wrote his friends’ names using the word wall too!
Thanks everyone for sending in your kids so well prepared with boots and a warm layer. I’m sure we will have more rainy days!
We had our first full Forest Monday today, from 9:30 am until about 1:30 pm! And it was HOT out in the woods.
The apple tree near the garden has great-tasting fruit. Rowen found a drop that was in good shape!
Nora and Lyndon navigating the ravine, with backpacks this time!
We pretended to be animals and built their homes today. Amelie was a deer and this is her bed.
Logan and Hayden were coyotes and worked on the roof of this den.
Emilia was a bird and built a nest.
With Miss Karen, kids worked on counting to five and collecting plants that were the same (and then different).
With Mrs. Y, kids worked on phonics (the letters M and S).
Jackson found this strange caterpillar with eyespots. I thought maybe it was a swallowtail??
Fairy house builders – Laurel, Nora, and Amelie.
Lyndon: “I played Power Rangers with my friends.” He wrote “me” and “P” for “Power Rangers.” You can clearly see the different colors!
The documentation of the fairy house building by Amelie. You can see where she labeled “me” and “Nora” with the first letter.
Laurel: “I made a bird nest.” You can see where she is also writing letters around her picture. The bird nest is in the top left by the “M” for “me.”
Gemma: “I made a bed out of logs.” I think the G is for her, and maybe the S is for Silas?
Our class shared writing. We all helped draw the pictures. It was important that we found poison ivy and talked about what it looks like so we don’t play in it!
We had a great day out in the woods today with Mrs. Johnson’s class. It was partly cloudy, breezy, and warm or cool depending on what you were doing.
Of course we did a LOT of climbing. Apple trees really are the perfect trees for climbing.
Jack and Nathaniel, with help from others (like Jacob) built a fort!
The fort quickly turned into an applesauce factory.
We collected a lot of apples, and Jackson, Hayden, and Braxton found it hilarious to try and walk on them– resulting in a lot of falling down!
Jacob was trying to cut a root for Leon and Noel with his chopping tool.
Vinnie went fishing with his stick.
Then we hike further on our trail for a loop back to school. These kids did great on their first crossing of “The Big Ravine”
Back at school, we debriefed the story of our day, and each kindergartener did their “Forest Journal” which they will add to all year.
Hayden: “Me carrying some apples.” The apples are the big circles all around him. You can see below where he is learning to write his name.
Jack: “Me climbing trees. And all the kids are playing in the grass.” Jack figured out that there were 14 kids in our class but he realized he ended up with more than 14 kids drawn here! He did an “M” for me and started to write other words too.
Hunter: “The goats and the troll.” We are very into playing The Three Billy Goats Gruff! And you can see the hills of our woods in his picture.
Astrid: “Me and Clara making soup.” She started to write and finished on the back.