Originally Posted February 20, 2016
It has been an eventful return back to Fresh Air Learning after our holiday break. Over the last few weeks we have watched the forest transform before our eyes; from having a touch of snow in our first week back to watching fresh new buds form on the trees and shrubs around us, beckoning the beginnings of spring.
We have spent some time this month revisiting the student's interest in working with tools. We expanded upon their desire to create with tools by bringing in lumber to the forest. The harder wood adds a new level of challenge to the activity, as well as creating the potential for take-home, small building projects.
We have also seen this desire to create manifest itself in the beautiful structures that the children have been creating in the forest. Pretend campfires, endless shelters (both for human and fairy) and even a balance beam have been created by the students in our program and utilized in their play.
This month we have introduced the students to using a pulley with our ropes. The children have been busy experimenting with gravity and weight by filling the bucket with various objects and observing how the change in weight affects the movement of the bucket. They have been testing their reflexes and their gross motor skills by waiting at the bottom of the line to either catch the bucket as it comes whizzing down or by jumping out of the way before it reaches them.
The rainy days of the last few weeks have caused our mud pit to triple in size and we have taken full advantage. In addition to our regular puddle jumping and splashing we brought in the mud kitchen for our students to engage with. The children worked cooperatively to create dishes together, sharing the work and dividing tasks to create what they had envisioned in their imaginations. The Fresh Air Learners also enjoyed making their temporary mark on the trees through mud painting. With paintbrushes, paint rollers and sponge brushes we gave the branches and rocks around us a fresh coat of deep mud brown.
At the farm, we took advantage of the quiet season to do some art. We created paintings using bits of trees as brushes; mixing colours and noticing the different brush strokes created by the different textures. We also utilized some burnt wood from the fire pit to create lovely charcoal drawings.
We continued work on our garden plot in preparation for spring. During our January visit, we did some digging in our garden. We pulled up some weeds, and observed the decomposition of the mulch in the garden and the movement of the worms with magnifying glasses for a closer look. During our February visit, the children decided what they would like to plant and planted some seeds to take home and care for at their homes. In March, we will bring the seedlings back to the farm and plant them in the garden.
When at the farm, we always make sure to check in with our animal friends. We said hello to the horses, learning about their body language and how to communicate with and understand how they are feeling. We had the opportunity to feed the chickens, also learning about what our body language says to them and how to approach them in a way so that they would not be afraid. The arrival of new baby and adult goats was the cause of much excitement as one of the farmers escorted us into the pen to meet them up close. There were plenty of giggles among the children at watching how they play and especially upon learning that they are “kids” as well.
The colder weather creates the perfect atmosphere for learning about fire. Together we talked about what elements are needed to build a successful fire and about how to keep a fire going. Our two day a week group, having had many opportunities to build fires as a group took the lead one day and built the fire completely on their own. Without the need of any direction from the facilitators, the group decided how much tinder, kindling and wood was required, made a plan and built it up together. The only job left for me to do was light the fire and everyone was quite captivated and proud of what they had achieved as a group.