Summer is over. So what?! Let’s begin Forest School!
Cheers & a big welcome to all families, friends and of course to our students of this year’s fall semester in Heathcote! With help of this blog I will be posting about our fun outdoor activities and you will be able to follow our learning experiences as the fall semester unfolds. I’m very happy to be able to work with the Thornbury class in such an amazing location and can’t wait to discover fall together with all its leaves and first frosty breezes and harvest and pumpkins and … so much more!
This week was our introduction into Forest School: we began our day by discovery the property and came across a plant named “touch me not”. This name, in my opinion, is absolutely not suitable for this plant as it has the funniest feature: exploding seedpods! So after making a couple hundred pods explode (and helping the plants distribute their seeds!) we decided to start a fire, as the coolness of the night still lied in the air. After gathering some tinder and (dry) wood we quickly began to warm up after the first flames ignited. It was time to begin the day with our forest school routine: smudging. This ceremony will take place at the beginning of every Forest School day. A shell with burning white sage is passed around. Everyone “baths” themselves with the smoke. This helps set the day right as this ritual is thought to help let go of any negative energy and replace it with good, positive energy.
While the fire was still burning we decided to make pine-tea. Everyone gathered some pine and we began boiling it in water over our fire. While waiting for our teas to cool down we ate our snacks and started feeling ready for new journeys: frog catching! Yes, it has already gotten very cold, but the frogs are still out! And there were plenty to catch. 11 young frogs from this year was our total count. Before lunch, it was time to proceed to an other Forest School tradition: the medallion. On a small, round wood slab the children write their name and draw a picture related to nature. This medallion is then hung on a string. Throughout the year the children will be able to gather beads for different accomplishments.
Strengthened from our meal we went on our next adventure: the Heathcote park. Accompanied by Sadie (the Heathcote dog) we made our way onto the trails and forest. We discovered many apple trees, milkweeds, old cedar trees, a tire swing, the Beaver River, a deserted fire place and so much more! Surrounded by all the trees and so many perfect hiding spots in the forest we played a game called Camouflage (similar to hide-and-go-seek). Sadie played too, but mostly she gave away everyone’s hiding spots. Ha-ha.
As pick-up time was approaching, it was time to make our way back to the Heathcote property! But not too fast: we discovered a little garter snake and it was very well inspected and admired (quote: “Oooooooohhhhhhhh it’s sooooooo cuuuuuuute!!!”). Back on the property we had a little snack and packed all our things up. While waiting for the parents to arrive we discovered a whole new patch of touch me nots in the parking lot that absolutely needed their seedpods popped!
What an exciting first day at Forest School in Thornbury! Next week we will be going into more details of further Forest School tradition & rituals and have a day of outdoor survival training!