Originally posted May 6, 2016
Lately we have been delighting in watching the forest wake from its long winter slumber. It is so good to feel the sun on our backs and faces, and to hear the birds singing again. The signs of Spring have been everywhere; in new leaves sprouting on shrubs which have been bare all winter; in salmon berry flowers blooming abundantly in the underbrush. Spring is infusing our days with fresh energy, discovery and wonder. Every day, there is something new in the forest to explore.
Here in Lynn Canyon we also have the river at which to marvel. It is swelling with Spring Rain and we have enjoyed hiking along its length, feeling its power from a safe difference. Pots, pans, scoopers, bowls, muffin tins and buckets are the tools we've been enjoying using to explore small tributaries of the river. Through these tools, we explore the different textures and qualities of the mud, sand, and rocks. How calming it is to scoop some clean, fresh river water into your bucket. Look closely, what wonders lie in way at the stream's bottom?
As the shrubs and trees wake up and begin to grow again, we have been enjoying learning more about plants. Recently the children enjoyed an intriguingly open-ended scavenger hunt. This is a great way to learn to recognize the plants in a particular area. The teachers filled one basket with small leaves, stones, and sticks in a familiar play area. The basket was covered by a soft scarf. Another empty basket was placed beside it. The children were invited to reach into the covered basket, draw out an item, and find its match in the forest. We then filled our empty basket with our finds. Much discussion, comparison, critical thinking, and categorization were engaged during this activity!
Something else we've noticed is the drumming and calling of woodpeckers in the forest, as they search for mates and start their families. We have played tracking games, following the sounds of woodpeckers drumming. We have explored field guides and gotten to know the 6 different species of woodpeckers that live in our forests in BC: Pileated, Downy, Hairy, Lewis's, Flickers, and Sapsuckers. Birds provide wonderful invitations into nature; they are everywhere, and they are spectacular! One day after discussing how woodpeckers' beaks are like chisels, the teachers brought in some real rubber hammers and metal chisels to explore using them on dead wood, just like a woodpecker would. We also produced a set of woodpecker playing cards. The children have enjoyed getting the chance to examine pictures of woodpeckers up close, and learn to recognize the printed names. This has been a wonderful introduction to using field guides. This kind of categorization activity can support early mathematics skills, not to mention the joy of making a new bird friend!
Earlier in the Spring the children became very interested in worms. How do they move? Where do they live? Do they have eyes? What do they eat? Our time at Maplewood Farm provides lots of opportunity to examine these amazing creatures up close, and learn about how they help our garden grow. We learned how to handle our wormy friends with gentleness and care, as their bodies are soft and they like staying in the dark!
One teacher brought in a handful of redworms from her worm composting unit at home. The worms were nestled into a yogurt container and covered in moist paper. We learned how the worms can transform things like leaves and apple cores into beautiful fertilizer that helps other plants grow. The children enjoyed feeding the worms some bug-munched kale from our garden, and watching it slowly decompose over the following weeks.
Also at Maplewood, we've enjoyed watching our garden grow. Garlic planted in the Fall is growing strong! We also planted some Fall Rye to build up our soil over the winter. It was a challenging task to separate the Rye from the Garlic as they look similar! What an opportunity to look closely, and notice tiny details in plants. Our bush pea plants are also going strong, no flowers yet! We enjoyed planting some wildflower seeds here and there. We can wait to see what will be growing by next month!
Every day we are grateful for the chance to explore the natural world with our classes. We have seen the children grow in so many ways since the Fall. The children's urgency towards play, discovery, and learning propels us to expand and deepen our own learning journeys, and continually inspires us towards broader our understanding of this beautiful world!