The beginning of a new year in Vancouver has seen every type of weather imaginable. Through the sun, wind, rain, fog, snow and ice- we have witnessed the marvelous transformations of the forest around us many times over. As we have come to know water, in all of its physical states; so too, have we come to know many different wonderful ways to learn and play among the trees this winter.
The beginning of January saw a great thaw in the forest. Packed snow formed icy patches along our regularly walked paths, adding a new level of challenge to our daily walks. We had to learn to walk in a different way, find new routes around very icy spots and even how to skate or skid along in a fun new game.
During this time, we brought hammers out with us into the forest. As the water in the earth freezes, the ground hold beautiful ice crystals. We dug and chipped away at the ice underfoot to reveal beautiful shapes and patterns that we could then, collect, sort and even build with!
The rains eventually arrived, and we witnessed as the ditches beside the path rose and the fast moving water made little waterfalls and expanded way passed where we had seen it flow previously in the year. Puddles were everywhere! It was a wonderful week of puddle jumping.
Massive puddles made for a great mud kitchen, as one group stirred, poured and measured the water. Feeling its cold and breaking off the last bits of ice left on the path.
As the forest was changing around us, the Fresh Air Learners began some work with ropes and string. Some groups used the string to create bow and arrows, creating targets to practice with, to test their skill, and keep away the monsters, of course! Another group took up finger knitting and spent many classes working at creating long, knitted creations and measuring them against their friends’ and teacher’s heights.
One group took to creating spider webs, using their fine motor and problem solving skills to wrap the sometimes difficult yarn in the way they wanted it to be. Yet another group used the ropes and string to tie leashes around sticks found in the forest to create a pack of loveable puppies to take on adventures around our play area.
The children also spend some time revisiting old favourites since spending time away during the winter break. The children worked meticulously with the whittlers, some sitting for half the class to sharpen many, many sticks and others working with one stick until it was almost whittled down to nothing.
Freezing temperatures and snow at the farm created new tasks and new fun to be experienced by all. One day, we were tasked with checking all the animal’s water buckets and breaking/melting any ice that had formed. This allowed us to care for the animals in a new way and ensure that they stayed hydrated during the cold days.
The ability to build a fire was a welcome luxury and skill during our early January visit to Southlands Farm. We discussed what a fire needs to be successful and worked as a team to build it together. Our teamwork was rewarded with a warm place to sing songs, relax and reflect as a group.
Our February visit to Southlands Farm saw the arrival of more snow! With some child-sized shovel, the children worked to move snow off of benches, dig trenches and even create a snow slide on our favourite hill!
Snow or not, life goes on at the farm and spring is on its way. We have been dreaming of and preparing for our garden. During our January visit to the farm, the children thought about what they might like to plant in the garden and drew pictures of what they would like it to look like. From these conversations and creations, we created a list of seeds to order. Come of February visit, all of the children planted some seeds to take home and care for while we wait for the warm weather to plant them in our garden plot at the farm.
Our February visit to the farm also, luckily, coincided with the arrival of 120 baby chicks. We were tasked with the responsibility of helping to socialize these young chickens. This meant going in their “nursery” in small groups to sit with, pet, hold and gently cuddle the little chicks to show them that they can trust the humans in their new home- lucky us!
Until next time; happy adventuring!