Autumn Explorations in Vancouver
In the forest, the days are getting wetter, colder and darker, which brings a change to our wanderings and wonderings. On the trail, the children searched for slugs and mushrooms. They noticed the misty sky and wondered if the forest was on fire, "Is it smoke?" Familiar logs became slippery and more challenging to balance on.
Shelters were built, for fairies and mice and other forest creatures. Sometimes the shelters became fire halls or police stations, and bark and sticks stood in for fire trucks or police cars. Sometimes we built shelters as high as we possibly could. Sometimes the shelters fell down and needed to be rebuilt. Sometimes they were built for the joy of knocking them down.
In honour of the harvest season, we tried a new activity this year: hammering nails into pumpkins. This was a great introduction to the difficult work of hammering nails into wood and lumber. It was also a delightful way to explore a familiar fall icon in a different way. Some children hammered nails into a pattern, a face or line. Some children tried to see how close they could hammer the nails together. Sometimes the nail went all the way in to the pumpkin, and the children noticed they could smell pumpkin.
The next week, we introduced hammering with lumber. "This is really hard," many children exclaimed. Yes, it takes a lot of patience, time and strength to hammer a nail in to wood - what a wonderful challenge! We also ate roasted seeds from the pumpkins we used the week before.
In addition to new activities, we also explored familiar games, themes and ideas, such as rope play, stick/sword fighting, climbing, running, hiding, and the ever-present imaginative play. Logs easily became planes, boats, buses or space ships for children to ride to different places. Sometimes the destination became a great discussion, with children wanted to go places they have been before, or imagine they would like to go: Hawaii, Toronto, Mexico, Mars, the number 33 bus.
At the end of every class, we always make time for journalling in our waterproof notebooks. We have noticed with many children, especially some returning students, that their journal is getting filled with maps, creatures and other drawings or writing.
At the farm this month, we had our first fire of the year. We showed the children simple steps to create a fire, including the three things a fire needs: fuel, oxygen and heat. Fires are an exciting feast for the senses. We urged the children to watch for flames, smell the smoke, hear the wood crackling and feel the heat.
We talked about what happens to things after they are burned, how they transform to ashes or charcoal. Then we used some charcoal to make pictures.
We also had the opportunity to try some honey straight from the hives. Many children noticed that unprocessed honey tastes different from honey in stores.
At the farm, the children also had a chance to see their favourite animals. They are getting to know the animals better, remembering their names, giving them hugs, feeding them and caring for them.
So many exciting things happen when we bring children and nature together!
See you in the forest,