Spring has sprung in Vancouver and everything is in bloom.
At the farm, the children have been deepening their relationships with the animals. The affectionate goats at Southlands Farm have been a favourite this year. Many a cuddle puddle has occurred involving kids of both human and goat variety. It has been an honor to observe the children bonding, not only with these very social animals but also bonding with one another through their shared love and affection for their farm friends.
It is garden season and we have been busy gardening during our monthly farm visits. The children have been getting dirty, helping to weed, water, and plant in the garden. However, it is quite possible that the favourite spot in the garden is the spot we have left intentionally clear for digging and discovering the worms and bugs that call our small plot of soil home.
We have helped out the horses by mucking out a few horse stalls this season. Getting dirty and working as a team. Using real tools and doing real work.
Together, we have explored fire. Both building it up and watching it burn/change as it burns up its wooden fuel. The farm is always a good source of charcoal. You can usually find a few good chunks of cooled charcoal lying around from previous fires. This makes a great material for drawing around the space and customizing our outdoor schoolroom.
We have spent one week a month since October visiting our new spaces at Jericho Beach Park. The children are beginning to bond with the nature playgrounds we have there and look forward each month to our visits.
The Fresh Air Learners have been able to enjoy the beautiful landscapes and mountain/ocean views while playing at the beach. Here we have made endless delicious creations with our kitchen supplies, summoned spells to transform one another into mermaids (and back again!), drew enormous pictures in the sand and observed the tides with wonder and curiosity.
We have watched the field transform from a puddle play-scape to it being a dry green space filled with wild flowers and waddling goslings. In the trees here we have found two amazing climbing trees and a restful shady spot for snack now that the weather is warming. The children have also been enthusiastically helping out the park by routinely pulling ivy up and removing it from the park one handful at a time.
This is a time of dramatic change in our play spaces. Growth happens quickly in the spring, which means our environment is changing more rapidly as well. New growth presents new opportunities for growth with the children in our programs.
We have been learning about new plants and new skills on our trips to our ever changing forest.
Here we have been working with tools under the shade of the trees. The children have been busy imagining and creating with hammers, whittlers, ropes and pulleys.
As nature changes and play moves forward, so too does the social dynamic among the Fresh Air Learners. Friendships are now established and the play narratives have been moving toward themes of caring and nurturing. Children are transformed through imagination to unicorns running from dragons, an owl family with new babies learning to fly from the nest and even games of “house” where family and social dynamics are at the heart of the play.
This year, we have embraced sit spots and have been doing them regularly in the forest. Most children look forward to that moment to be quiet and still and watch the forest. Afterwards, we share things that we noticed or found interesting/exciting. The children light up with expressions of wonder, excitement and gratitude in this moment and it is truly beautiful to behold.