We welcomed the warm weather and (mostly) sunshine with open arms this week at FNS! The birds were quite active, insects were out and about, turtles and frogs were sunning, flowers and grasses were growing – Spring is here. Check out the recap below.
After some of our core routines, we dove into our full values contract. If you are unfamiliar with this, essentially we brainstorm of ideas to what it takes to create a safe, happy and welcoming atmosphere for all, write them all down on leaves and pin them to our FS tree. Everyone signs the roots (and taking ownership over it) and these become our norms and guidelines that we were refer when needed.
We then headed out for our camp out lunch to Mysterious Forest to try and unravel some of the mysteries. Children sought to understand the “Mystery” of Mysterious Forest and discovered all sorts of clues to what it could be. And so what is the Mystery? Well, the jury is still out on that. But slowly the puzzle pieces are coming together.
Throughout the day, we took time to develop our quiet minds by being intentional on taking time to listen. A great book we read is The Other Way to Listen by Byrd Baylor which set the tone for some quiet connection time in the Forest. We also spent some time channeling our inner animals (aka Animal Forms) in various games like camouflage and person-hunt.
Oh and we found a great big painted turtle just meandering it’s way across the path!
Wednesday was a student-planned day and after months, perhaps years, of asking we finally decided as teachers that Nerf Mania could happen. (For more information on the “behind the scenes” of this decision, we’ve written a a blog in our Campfire Notes – check it out here.)
After creating comprehensive guidelines, our day started off with a triathlon where students raced around the pond, answered an FNS trivia question and then fired at their homemade target to see how many points they could achieve. From here we moved into target practice by setting up “antique tin cans” (toilet paper rolls) on a fence and trying to knock them over. It’s surprising how accurate they can be.
We had snack and moved into learning about hunting. We talked about skills as a hunter (silence, camouflage, patience, etc) and sustainable practices. The students then became hunters with the goal of shooting the deer before the deer noticed them. They set up their perfect space, and waited. And waited. And waited. Until the deer (teachers) started grazing and moved close enough to be hit! Later on, we finished our day with Capture the Flag with a twist using Nerf.
And did we mention Baby Chicks? 16 to be exact. With all the Nerf excitement, we as teachers were pleasantly surprised when students opted to spend most of their days playing with the chicks (to be clear: Nerf and Baby Chicks were two very separate activities). They gave them names, built huge elaborate homes, and even some amusement parks. We as teachers also learned an important lesson – it’s hard to debrief when everyone in the circle is holding a squawking little chick!
Our day started off with the usual routines, but when we headed to our check-in and sit spots we noticed something. There were so many birds! And one thing led to another and before we knew it, we were following some turkey vultures to see what they had found. This led us North to an off-the-map area and we found it! Massive vultures over the remains of Green-Winged Teal (we later identified) which gave us a first-hand look at the food chain. After finding some other interesting things, we all agreed that we need to explore this area in more depth.
After snack we jumped into a new team-building game we like to call Islands. The premise is all students have some sort of ability taken away, and all know a few bits of the puzzle. They rocked this game and came up with some really creative answers. Ask your child about it.
Before lunch, we got out some tools and constructed a giant slingshot with some of our students. After lunch, we just had to try it out and headed out to explore around the lake. With the sun so hot, we inevitably stumbled across a TINY painted turtle. Check out the pictures below!
Another beautiful day, and we took full advantage. After spending some time in our sit spots and trying our the giant slingshot, it was the Friday groups turn to try out the Island teambuilding game (see Thursday). And they rocked it! It also led to a really powerful debrief for this group about teamwork, cooperation and communication.
After lunch, we slowly headed West with our Willow Crowns, checking for our amphibian and reptile friends along the way (and climbing a mountain). Eventually we made it out to Maple Forest to check out the new trail systems that have been created. This gave us a good chance to reflect on balancing human impacts (including our own) in natural areas. The new trails are beautiful!
Upon arriving to Grape Valley, our campsite, we spent some time getting to know one another better. We broke off into pairs and “interviewed” each other, then reported back to the group to introduce our partners. And before we knew it, it was time to head back.