On this warm end-of-summer-day we sure had a lot going on! Our core group of kids were all present today, so after everyone had arrived and briefly met through some wild climbs and swings on the Tarzan rope, we began our day with our forest school morning routine: smudging. Our ‘old-timer’ forest school students eagerly explained to our new forest school students what it’s all about: bathing yourself in the smoke of the burning sage (quote:’But not naked!’), getting rid of negative energy and letting good one in. After this we made sure that everyone made their medallions and found their very own spot to hang it up in the forest school. Throughout the year the students will be able to receive different beads for different accomplishments and achievements. ( see full list of beads here )
It was also time for the students to find their very own sitspot on the property: a place up high or surrounded by trees or on the comfy sofas of the school house? Everyone has a different preference! While some students knew right away where they wanted to have their sitspot, others strolled around the property once more to find the best spot. Once everyone had found a suitable place a first journal entry was made: a drawing of their unique spot and maybe also some words as to why they chose exactly this spot.
After getting to know some first forest school routines and engaging in exploratory play on the Heathcote property it was time to get to know each other better too! We played different games to help memorize our names and learn about each other’s favorite animals (the bum-scratching-gorilla!).
What would a (summer) day at forest school be without frog-catching? There were fewer frogs to catch this week, but the excitement is always the same! A book from the library ‘Reptiles & Amphibians of Southern Ontario’ helped us identify the different species: Green Frog and Leopard Frog.
After lunch it was time for our big survival training! To begin with, we spoke of which situations and occurrences might bring us into a survival situation: from plane crash to volcano eruption, the thoughts came fast and we came up with well over 20 situations in which we might find ourselves struggling to survive. We wanted to make sure we don’t struggle to survive but know how to manage to survive! So on our survival journey we looked at 5 major aspects:
- First up: edible plants! Finding the right food outside is essential for surviving. Which plants are edible and not is really important. We found the following plants on the property and tried them all: dandelion (everything is edible), golden rod (yellow flowers are edible), raspberries (berries are edible), wild grapes (grapes and tendrils are edible), touch me nots (only the seeds are edible!). We also spoke of other local plants that we know are edible such as blueberries, apples, pears, fiddle heads, blackberries and some type of mushrooms.
- Next we got to know some different knots and tried them out: in a survival situation this could provide us with proper attachment methods for a shelter for example. Some of the knots we learned about today: overhand, overhand on a bite, figure 8, noose, clove hitch, weaving knot ….
- Time to put our knowledge to the test: building a shelter. Luckily our chosen catastrophe scenario left us a tarp (with some holes) which we used to build our shelter. We hung it up between some fallen over trees so get some protection from the elements. After we were finished and some what satisfied with our temporary solution, we decided to leave the shelter in order to be able to keep on working on it 🙂
- After all the gathering, learning and building it was time for a little break by a fire. But how to make a fire without matches and firewood? Gathering, learning and building again! We gathered lots of seeds from thistles (white, fluffy and very flammable!) as tinder and began using our magnesium flint to create sparks by scraping a knife against it. It didn’t take long at all for sparks to fly into the pile of white fluff and ignite a short lasting flame! we managed to get a small fire going, but it was hard to maintain it as the ground was still very damp from all the past rain.
- Last but not least: Water! Where to get water from? Lots of ideas came up right away: puddles, rivers, collect rain water, springs … which is all correct! But this water might be bad for us and make us very sick. Luckily, the kids knew a solution to this problem: boil the water!
Overall this was a very good and exciting day! We were lucky to have the weather on our side and hope to be able to enjoy this fantastic summer weather just a bit longer!
Next week: canoeing & fishing