Tasty Treats and Hiking Trails

Tuesday

What a hot and beautiful day we had!  After our opening circle, we dove into (or rather quietly sat into) a sensory awareness activity that got us using all our senses.  After some games and further core routines, we headed out for a lunch out a Grape Valley.

Students spent the day searching for critters in the water, building fairy communities, adding to their shelters and getting stuck in the mud!  We headed out to be the first FNS group to explore the new trails in Maple Forest and found a lot of exciting things along the way.  Edible trout lillies were everywhere and we took (sustainable) advantage as these delicious treats don’t last long!  We meandered our way through the Forest, uncovering places we had never seen before.  And before we knew it, it was time to head back.  But one more treat on the way – a patch of Garlic Mustard!  This is one tasty invasive!

Wednesday

Wednesday’s group was visited by a beautiful male Indigo Bunting during our opening circle.  We took the time to just observe and see what he was doing, making note of appearance to identify later.  After a sensory awareness activity, we were ready for the day!

After snack, the students took a lead role in our Tick Awareness by creating a student-led natural spray to help deter ticks from coming after us.  And while we’ve never had a tick on our students at Forest School, we want to keep in that way and knowledge is power.  After covering ourselves in it, we headed out to Grape Valley in Maple Forest for lunch.

While there, imaginations came alive, structures were built and the hunt for new creatures was on.  We found some strange looking aquatic bugs we later identified as caddisfly larvae and big beetle known as a Meleo.  We hiked all the new trails that have been developed which has opened up some awesome new areas to explore and then something really cool happened – the students self-organized to clean up garbage along it and ended up filling a whole bag.  What group of environmental superheroes!

Throw in some delicious wild edibles – trout lily, leeks and garlic mustard – and a huge nesting site of bank swallows on Fossil Mountain, and we’ll call it a successful exploration!

Thursday

Thursday brought forth all sorts of emergent interests in our students.  We started the day with some teambuilding by conquering the “chocolate river” by using “marshmallows” to cross it (ask your kids!).   After our opening circle we spent some time on sensory awareness with our journals in a quiet place.  This led us into our check-in and before we knew it, snack had arrived.  After snack, we had a quick lesson on tick prevention and awareness before jumping into the role of Geese and learning firsthand some of the perils they face on their long journeys – not everyone survived!  Some of our students were focused on birds throughout the whole day and we were able to identify new ones and wonder what they were up to.  We even followed some circling vultures to see if we could find their target.

Another theme throughout the day was plants.  We worked to together to get our gardens in place, plant the peas for our living tee-“pea” and students even took the initiative to build their own wild edible garden in their sit spots – complete with some of the plants we foraged: garlic mustard, wild strawberry, wild carrot (Queen Anne’s Lace), leeks and more.

And still we had some students dive into amphibians – frogs and toads to be exact.  We found eggs and tadpoles and caught a whole bunch of different critters.

And still some other students were really into to building bug homes and making clay.

It’s awesome when we can all share one space, and follow our passions and interest together and apart!

Friday

We started off the day with a silent lava crossing teambuilding challenge and our students rocked it!  After our opening circle and check-ins we spent some time building and playing in our sit spots.  As it was a chillier day, some students took on the task of creating a fire with flint and steel and were successful!

Our next adventure began after lunch as we headed west to discover some new trails.  Along the way, we caught some frogs and uncovered a mass area of toad eggs (now named Toad Egg Bay).  Further along, we spotted  a pile of bones that got us wondering what had happened.

As we started along the trails we focused our attention downwards and the many wild edibles that have sprung up.  Students tried Garlic Mustard, sampled the ample trout lillies and uncovered big patches of leeks.  And though not edible, we found that the trilliums are in bloom (so watched out step!) and even identified some Jack in the Pulpit sprouted up.

FYI: We’ve got an edible plant workshop with Naturalist Brian McLelland-Tuck coming up on Saturday June 2nd with a few spaces remaining.  At Forest School, your children will be learning a lot about safe foraging and eating, and this workshop is geared towards parents and educators to help them get involved in this special learning.  Email us asap if you’d like to register, we only have a handful of spots remaining ($20/person).

Have a great weekend,

Matt and Krista

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