Time and Space to Play
This spring at Fresh Air Learning has been filled with the wonders that occur when children are given the time and space to play.
Through our play, we have watched as the forest changed around us. New plants sprouted from the ground, old deciduous plants have grown new life and everything is shining with many shades of green. We have learned about some new plants, smelling peanut butter leaves, noticing the shapes of the berry bushes, and talking about some of the wonderful things that plants can do for us.
The new growth makes the forest seem full of magic and the children have responded with a lot of fairy and magic themed play. One day, a wishing well appeared in the middle of the park; we all delighted at throwing fir cones in to make a wish. Many of the classes have been busy creating fairy houses and wondering about what sorts of things a fairy would like to have in their home.
Some of our students; having had their own bodies grow as surely as the passing of the season, have taken to climbing to newer heights throughout our classes. They have been working hard, helping and encouraging one another to reach their goal and seeing the world from a new perspective. Each child, beaming with joy and pride upon reaching their goal.
We have done quite a bit of work with ropes this season, creating our own toys and mediums to interact with the forest. We have enjoyed tying knots, creating leashes for escaped lions or trying to domesticate an imaginary wolf. The children have enjoyed creating swings to play on and spiderwebs for climbing. We even created a zip line in April for everyone to zoom down. It took strength, balance and persistence to use but that amount of fun is a great motivator.
Prompted by a child’s interest in measurements, we brought some measuring tape into the forest one class. The children enjoyed measuring parts of the forest, seeing how tall their peers were and even measuring the teachers!
This spring we noticed a lot of children asking to revisit the Whistle game. After revisiting that game a few times, we decided to introduce some new ones. The children enjoyed some sensory games together, including Eagles nest and Camouflage.
Southlands farm has been changing as noticeably as our forest since our return in March. We watched as daffodils brightened the orchard, followed by dandelions and buttercups as the weather warmed. We have met new pigs, observed how different the sheep look without their winter woolly coats and introduced ourselves to new chicks. We enjoyed getting up close and personal with the animals to feed the chickens and the goats and play with the sheep (Toque, Mittens) and cuddle the pigs (Winsten and Rosie).
We seized the last of the cooler days to build a fire together, discussing what a fire needs and how to build it so that it has all that it needs to burn- even taking turns providing some much needed oxygen by blowing gently to spread and grow the flames. With some cooled charcoal from the fire pit, the children drew wonderful pictures on paper, scrap pieces of wood and even their own faces!
Our two day a week class, created some stepping stones to decorate and separate our garden. We mixed the concrete, poured it into pie tins and added some embellishments to create our stepping stones. After drying for a couple of days, the children could then choose their place in the garden, creating barriers between our spots for vegetables, herbs and our digging area.
During out visit in May, the children helped out the farmers by mucking out a horse stall. We worked together to separate the wet sawdust from the dry, shoveled the wet saw dust and the horse poop into the wheelbarrow and then shoveled it from the wheel barrow into the manure shed. It was hard work, but great fun and a wonderful opportunity to talk about poo!
With the hot and sunny weather, our garden was need some attention and lots of water. We worked together to dig up the weeds and water our garden- finding lots of worms and insects along the way.
We are looking forward to seeing what with grow, both in our garden and in the imaginations of the Fresh Air Learners this spring.