Aside from our core routines, our days varied a lot this week (as they typically do) so check out the highlights below!
On Tuesday we embraced a beautiful day and celebrated a special birthday. After our morning circle, check-ins and sit spots, we were off for a lunch out to the wonderful Mysterious Forest. We learned a new game about fur trading that let our students jump into the roles of Europeans and Indigenous Peoples around the time of contact. We did this to build off prior knowledge and while the game was incredibly fun, the more important part was the thoughtful and inspiring debrief with our students. (Behind the scenes this is part of our Core Teaching – Heritage Species: Wisdom of the Ancestors). And of course we had some time for climbing trees, and reading and making up poetry as well.
We started our Halloween with pumpkin carving and cooking the seeds over a fire… they turned out a little burnt, but tasty considering we had no oil! After our core routines and an impromptu Halloween Costume fashion show, we headed out on a wander. At a place called “Mushy Beach” (aptly named as we pulled sinking people out) we invented a new game: Crow’s Nest. It was all about sneaking, moving quietly and “channeling our inner weasel”, as a student put it. (Behind the the scenes, this targets our indicator of awareness of Quieting the Mind, and core routines related to Animal Form, Questioning and Tracking, and even Sit Spot.)
Later in the afternoon, we returned to the ruins of our dam from a month ago. This time it was reinforced with a spillway (pipe) to let out any overflow. It was awesome to watch ideas come to life and young minds work together to create something epic. And we got a first hand look at erosion and alluvial fans from the debris of the “river”. We also had some students make some cool clay creations.
From tea on the fire (and a new tripod cooker built), to human knots, to snakes on the trail and our new fur trading game (see Tuesday for explanation) – the Thursday group was super busy!
One fun and creative moment that unfolded that we want to share with you occurred with our newly updated Mud Kitchen. It started in the morning with a couple students creating “recipes” for nature soups, drinks and salads and writing them down in their journals. Fast forward to Free Play in the afternoon and suddenly the whiteboard is out with “Nature Cafe” written across it. Before long, there are more cooks, servers and patrons of the restaurant and inevitably a currency system. And eventually pretty much the entire group is involved. It was magical! (Behind the scenes: this is a great example of symbolic and socio-dramatic play!)
Further, and what really made us as educators so proud, was that the “ingredients” for the recipes were specific plants that we have learned to identify over the last few years. And each recipe was pretty complex, requiring at least 8 different plants!
We started with tea over the fire again (catnip and cedar) and got ready for a wet and cool day! If the weather was an issue, the kids didn’t let on as they embraced the day. We headed out on an adventure that led us to Mysterious Forest. We played a huge game of Sardines where one person hides and the others hide alongside that person when they find them. Playing in such a big space that is so well treed gives us the sense of being lost or at least being away from others and alone. (Behind the scenes: this one of our pillars of risky play)
We made our way back, pretty wet and ready for a warm-up and lunch. After lunch we read a Nootka legend from the Pacific Northwest called Octopus and Raven. The students then created or interpreted their own legends in dramatic form. They were inspiring tales! (Behind the scenes: Storytelling is one of our fundamental Core Routines)
If you’ve read all this (thanks!), you can see we had a pretty fun week. Every group we have is so different and we are so thankful to have the space and freedom to follow the interests of our kids – it really makes for unique days. A big thanks to our student’s parents and guardians for knowing the value in this!
We are CAVING next week for our Painted Turtles, Snowy Owls and Blue Herons! Please dress to get wet and muddy.
Matt, Aislinn, Michelle and Krista