Monday, May 2, 2011


By Sara Rocio Raeesi-Gujani

WOW! We definitely had a very cold but wonderful and enjoyable winter in the woods.
Following up with the four weeks of adventure in the creek how the Forest Preschool children planned and invented the snow designs and snow mobiles activity?

The activity: Snow designs and Snow Mobiles

A- Details of the planning of the activity

1- We engaged in co-reflection with the children to find out other possibilities they will like to discover and explore: What other languages they will like to include and what other inquiries they will like to pursue in their quest to continue their exploration of the creek.
2- After debriefing with the children about how much fun we have had in the creek, how many types of play we have done, and how many changes we have observed in the creek since December. I encouraged the children to think about what other play we can create and if there is anything else we will like to investigate about the creek.
3- The children insisted they will like to continue to play in the creek, they suggested the idea of adding colour to it. They pointed out the creek will be more beautiful if we add paint. They recommended colour will be like decorating the creek. They add that perhaps we can add paint to the side where there is still a lot of snow. They also suggested that we can celebrate “Winter Lude” in the creek.
4- After all these ideas the children concluded that the best plan is to first add paint to the snow. [They question how we can keep a piece of snow with colour? And can we take it home?]

B- The implementation of the activity

1- After deciding to use various paint colours to paint on the snow
2- We started to pack the materials in our basket: the paint, all sorts of brushes, paint rolls, pipets, small towels, and a bottle with water. The children also added hand shovels just in case they will like to cut pieces of snow.
3- We head to the creek and after sliding, laughing, and wonder about the changes of the creek, the children decided to head to the waiting tree to play with the paint there. We sat in a semicircle and started to unpack our basket.
4- We poured the paint in ice cube makers and decided what colours we like best.
5- Then each child selected a space to create with colour paint on the snow.

1- Each child started to use the paint in various forms along with brushes, paint rolls, and pipets.
2- They covered the snow surface with beautiful paint designs.
3- Then some children decided to carve around particular colours. They carved because the snow was frozen. It was perfect because a shape can be taken from the ground.
4- The children started to wonder how they can keep the piece of the snow. Can they take it home? Can they hang the snow pieces in the trees [so no one can touch it?]
5- How can it be possible? I asked.
6- The children suggested opening holes and passing a string through it.
7- Some children created beautiful snow mobiles.
8- Other children decided to add paint to the snow and create beautiful designs
9- Still they insisted they will like to take the snow mobile with them
10- Some took it in a container but by the afternoon the snow mobile was melted. They witnessed how the piece of snow changed in size until it became coloured water.
11- The next day some other children were curious about the snow mobiles on the trees. They started the same process again until the weather was too cold for snow mobile making.
12- They insisted they will like to continue with the project of decorating the trees of the forest. It will be like Christmas in winter says G.

Monday, January 10, 2011

January 2011

By Sara Rocio Raeesi-Gujani

Wow! Happy New Year! Cheers! And Best Wishes for all of us, health, prosperity, peace, and lots of love for Mother Earth! 2010 had been definitely awesome at the Forest Preschool. The children have had the opportunity to experience and observe the rhythms and changes of the Forest and themselves. We had great volunteers and have welcomed brave new explorers while waving good-bye to others. We traveled across the Forest and across the World; we have discovered new places and have given names to them. We have laughed, joked, discovered, and encountered great weather challenges: Summer in Spring and Winter in Fall. Most importantly was the enjoyment and sense of wonder that was present in every moment. As the year progressed, the children were always interested in new adventures. For example: in December, inspired from the leafless trees, evergreen trees, and from the season celebrations, the children's imagination sparked a new adventure. They decided to celebrate 'Christmas in the Forest'. What fun we had. As another example, the creek has been an important source of inspiration for the children during the year. In light of the magical disappearance, appearance, and transformation of the water during the year, I decided to briefly describe and share our adventures of four weeks of play in the creek.

Week One: November 22-29 The water: The creek's water flow

This week the water flow of the creek has increased and there were many leaves on it. As we sat down and observed the creek, the children commented that they have waited since July to see and hear the water. They were disappointed to see the creek full of leaves. Some children said:
L:"Poor creek cannot move nicely"
C: "Cannot breathe", "it is contaminated with leaves",
G: "We cannot walk, splash, or play on it",
E: "We cannot hear the sounds of the creek".
I encouraged the children to think about how we can solve the problem? How to clear the leaves from the water? How to accomplish such an endeavour?
After discussing all different types of materials that possibly will help to take the leaves out of the creek, the children concluded that is better to find something from nature which will help to clear the leaves from the water.
The children first decided to find all sorts of sticks so they can clear the leaves from the water. They tried long sticks, short sticks, not too short and too long sticks; even they tried upside down 'Y' sticks. The best they said were the medium size: not too short or too long, just the ones we can hold in our small hands. After they reached such a great conclusion, the children were all set and ready to start their project: 'the cleaning of the creek'. As the leaves were placed at both side of the shore the water flow increased and new challenges raised. Bridges [mini] were build, dens were done, the water play started, and after the hard work every day we held tree trunks and stretched our bodies, rested our backs flat on the ground thinking how nice is to see the clear water. Most importantly we thought about how beautiful it is to hear the creek’s water flow. While looking up high to the sky we saw Canadian geese flying overhead and making a 'V'. We concluded: The V is the half of the W, two ‘V’s creating a W, and the word WATER starts with the letter W.

Week Two: November 30- December 3 The water: From Liquid to Solid, Surprise!!!!!

This week we had frost and temperatures were in the -5 to-10 range. Surprisingly, after the hard work done last week on clearing the leaves from the water on the creek, the water magically has transformed from liquid to solid.
"There is ice on the creek!! Sara!" They exclaimed.
As the children walked up and down the frozen stream, they observed the ice broke when I walked on it. They asked why the ice did not break when they walked. Some children answered:
G: "Because she is an adult"
C, L, and E: "She weighs more than us".
G: "Yes because she is bigger than us."I encouraged the children to touch the ice and to press a bit hard to see what happened.
Some children very creatively started to dig on the ice with sticks; others traced shapes, figures, lines, and created beautiful designs on the ice. Some touched the ice and pressed down till the ice broke. Others discovered the ice was very soft and it breaks easily. The children, [one by one] started to jump up and down. Then, suddenly, everybody decides to jump, run, and break the ice in many possible shapes. The children called themselves 'the ice-breakers'. Once there were lots of large and small pieces of ice they decided to use these pieces to build houses on the creek’s shore.
The children also decided to move to another part of the creek where there was a mini-pond. There, the children used garden shovels and cut various shapes: triangles, squares, half circles, and any shape they could make and tossed into the already broken ice spot of the mini-pond. Some children tossed the ice and others jumped on it to smash the shapes they tossed in. Once the ice and water were mixed they said: "Sara we made ice-smoothie".
Also, in another part of the creek the children tried to "skate" without breaking the ice but it was impossible the ice had become very soft and it was easy to break. And the ice again was perfect to play and the 'ice breakers' game started again.

Week Three: December 6-11 The ice: From soft breakable to hard slippery

This week's temperature dropped to -20 and the children could not wait to see the changes in the creek. As the children fast approached the creek, they screamed: "The creek has become ice and now we can skate" The children challenged themselves to walk and move their bodies on the icy, slippery surface: they walked slowly with hands extended, they crawled under small branches, they skated without skates, they laughed, took breaks, rested, and insisted they must play in the creek. With all that practice of body movement in the icy creek, the children now have a new challenge. They insisted they must move up and down on the ice slide [former water fall (small one)].
Now, that the children are conscious of the slippery surface, they started slowly by gently sitting down to slide. After landing with enjoyment and laugher they worked to solve the problem of how to return to the starting point? Some got out of the creek and walked around, others walked half way around the creek and held from tree trunks, one child decided to crawl up and challenge the ice. After many attempts and much laughter, all the children safely succeeded in their quest to reach the top of the icy slide. Now the children created another challenge: they lie down on their backs and slide down with their whole body flat on the ice surface. They asked me to sit in the middle of the fall just in case they needed help. All children landed smoothly with excitement, laughter, and a sense of accomplishment.
Lastly, the five children started to practice to move up the icy slide again. With a bit of help they accomplished the mission to move up and down the icy stream.
"We did it Sara!!" They remarked.

Week four: December 13-17 The ice: From hard slippery to layered surface.

This week's temperature has risen from the -20's to -10 and there had been snow fall during the night. The creek has been transformed from hard slippery to layered surface. While the children walked along the creek, they have noticed various cracks along it. Without hesitation the preschoolers [3-5 years of age] have used their shovels and their imagination to "repair" the creek. As the snow falls into the holes of open water, we noticed a magical transformation.
I invited the children to think about: What happen when the snow falls in the water? Where does the white of the snow go? Why did this happen? As the children repeat the process of adding [shovelling] snow, I invited them to pause and see what happens. As all the children stopped and looked, we slowly used our feet to add snow to the water. They noticed the snow change colour when it gets wet and that the white disappears as soon as it is in contact with the water. One of the senior preschoolers said:
L: "The water is transparent and its colour is grey and when we add the snow, the snow becomes grey and that is how the colour grey is created”
E: "We can see our faces in the water is why the water is grey". Another child said:
G: "No it is not grey; it is transparent because we can see the sand and rocks"
L: "But it is grey because the snow becomes grey"
W: "Let's go guys, let's repair the creek".

As all continued to shovel till the hole was full of snow, the children decided to do a test and jump to see if the hole was solid but as they jumped and tried to pack the snow, it was not solid. The snow was very soft and watery. I did encourage the children to think about why the snow is not solid and strong enough.
As we moved to another hole, I invited the children to feel the water and the snow and to tell which one is warmer. The children noticed the water is warmer than the snow. I said:
S: "If the water is warmer", what happen when the snow [which is cooler] fall on it? I asked.
"The snow melts!" the children exclaimed.
The creek has been a source of inspiration for the children’s play. The creek invites them to think, play, wonder, inquire, laugh, take risks, negotiate, and learn. This process is a visible learning about how much joy, wonder, and inquiry are taking place. The children seem totally immersed in the process. I notice we, both [the children and I] feel totally in the ‘flow’.

How does it feel to be in “the flow?”
1- Completely involved, focused, and concentrating-with this either due to innate curiosity or as the result of training.
2- Sense of ecstasy- of being outside everyday reality.
3- Great inner clarity-knowing what needs to be done and how well it is going
4- Knowing the activity is doable- that is the skills are adequate, and neither anxious nor bored.
5- Sense of serenity- no worries about self, feeling of growing beyond the boundaries of ego-afterwards feeling of transcending ego in ways not thought possible.
6- Timeless- thoroughly focused on present, don’t notice time passing
7- Intrinsic motivation-whatever produces “flow” becomes its own reward

Sidney, March 17, 1999 Public Lecture by professor Csikszentmihalyi

During January we will continue to investigate the amazing transformations of the water in the creek. We also will investigate the meaning of hibernation, will have a hibernation celebration, and will greet hibernation every day with the game: HI! BERNATE.

Have a lovely year! New beginning! New journey! Let's celebrate! Cheers!
Great start for January
Love for February
Peace for March
No worries for April
Fun for May
Joy for June to November
Happiness for December
Author: unknown
Have a wonderful 2011 - International Year of the Forests - as declared by the UN

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Forest Preschool in the News

Season's Greetings, Everyone!

Below is a link to a recent TV spot with Marlene and some of our Senior Preschoolers. Share and enjoy!

Friday, November 12, 2010


By Sara Rocio Raeesi-Gujani

Wow! In light of the disappearance of the colour from the woods, the children are asking: How hot is below zero? And where the colour of the leaves has gone?
“They become treasures!” answered the Lion.
The last Friday of October the Forest Preschoolers very creatively dressed up and started their daily voyage into the woods. They were the Wizard, the Lion, the Lady with the Cat in the Hat, and all the Wild Little People from the woods. They only wished for the magical transformation of the colour of the leaves into sweet treasures!
“Let's go for a sweet treasure hunt!” suggested the Wizard. All went off with a map in their hand and with the desire to explore and conquer candy land. After climbing trees, crossing ponds, creeks, going through the milkweed fields and entering caves and shelters, they emerged from the big great forest with pinecones, acorns, all sort of sticks, rocks, dry grasses, leaves, and pockets empty of sweets.
They were very persistent! As successful and brave explorers always do: They very decisively changed their route. This time, with map and compass in hand, they headed north, crossed a small path and entered a glass garden, from there; they spotted a rabbit and a wooden house with a big green door and a golden knob. They opened, entered and closed the door very quietly. “Which way should we go; around the corner or down the stairs?” they asked softly. The Lady with the Cat in the Hat took charge.
“Let's go down the stairs!” she said. Once down there, they turned right and entered a wavy tunnel. There, they saw no one but only white doors and empty entrances. As they quietly but happily moved on, they saw a big great room at the end. They couldn't go around it. They couldn't go under it. They couldn't go over it. There was no way they could climb it either!
“What we should do?” the Wizard softly whispered.
“We must go through!” commanded the Lady with the Cat in the Hat. In the blink of the eye all Forest Preschoolers found themselves in front of three great people. And immediately, took possession of their attention!
“Surprise! Trick or treat!” they happily exclaimed. Despite their efforts and their strategy, there were no sweets to be found yet. With great disappointment, they were each given small pieces of precious mineral [mica]. In their quest for sweet treasure, they set off Good Will Hunting to the next door. There they found, not sweets at all, but instead, very kindly and softly, they were offered two animal cookies each!

Peter and the Wolf- November Celebrations- Children's National Day

November is already full of wonder and excitement!
This month there are various themes to explore and investigate. It is also a month of celebration and reflection. November investigations will include the study of themes from the musical tale: Peter and the Wolf by the Russian composer Sergei Prokofiev. The story will be told using various mediums: reading aloud, storytelling, and character representation. Various topics of interest will be discussed: friendship, cooperation, team work, and animal rights. We will investigate the life of the wolf. Through games we will recreate how wolves survive and how they communicate. We will deconstruct the meaning of hunting, predator and prey. The concept of food chain and food webs will be introduced. Musical instruments identification activities will be included.
There will be plenty of activities related to November Celebrations in Canada and around the World. For example: on November 11 we will be discussing the meaning of peace and will be joining the Clinic's team at 11:00 AM to celebrate Remembrance Day. There will be also special activities to celebrate Children's National day [November the 12]. We will be reading a children's book about children's rights and will be creating and recreating the children's rights through various art mediums. Overall, there are a variety of activities for all the children: juniors and seniors.
Specific activities are posted in the bulletin board. Parents are welcome to participate and collaborate with materials, resources, ideas, and skills. Please join us in our Good Will Hunting!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Autumn Mother Nature Provocations

By Sara Rocio Raeesi-Gujani

Wow! Green has disappeared in the woods and the light has reflected a rainbow of colours back into our eyes!

All Change in the Mystery Woods

All Change in the Mystery woods: it was misty morning in the mystery woods.
The Fog hugged the trees and the tree tops disappeared absorbing all noise.
So, no sound could be heard:
No rustling leaves or cracking branches, even the birds were quiet.
Everything was still and peaceful, everything looks like a photograph.
Then, in a flash! The silent was shattered by a huge bang!!
What was happening?

(Author: unknown)

Suddenly, everything was in motion: Summer was gone! Cold days began, colour appeared in the woods, leaves started to fall, and a magical force brought everything and everyone at the Forest Preschool down to Earth.


Celebrating Bio-Cultural Diversity

All Colours of the Earth by Sheila Hamanaka invited the children to start to explore and investigate: Why the colours of the earth reflect the colours of the world?

We will start by exploring the colours of the forest and the meaning of the season. We will discuss why the leaves change colours. Then, we will explore with light and shadow play. We will study camouflage, markings, and will discuss how these might help animals survive in the wild. Further we will investigate Carp Ridge natural resources and will identify some. For example: animals, rocks, minerals, edible, medicinal, and poisonous plants. We also will be investigating the variety of construction materials used in Carp Ridge buildings.
Most importantly we will be sharing our cultural roots and/or our experiences traveling to other cities, towns, and, countries. We will investigate the meaning of our names. We will study the cultural and linguistic diversity at Carp Ridge and the diversity of food prepared in our kitchen. The children will visit the kitchen and have snack and a conversation with Cindy about food and how she decides our meals. We also will be harvesting some vegetables in our garden.
Finally, we will discuss our favourite music and will explore music and variety music instruments. We will be making musical instruments using materials found in nature.
Parents are encouraged to participate and to share ideas and materials. For example, families can create a family picture book and a family tree (add stories and the name of places visited). We can share resources (world maps, musical instruments, postcards) and any other materials related to our October celebration. For details on specific activities please visit our bulletin board and our book and resource display.
Happy Bio-Cultural Diversity Celebration!
I will back on Tuesday October 26.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Cindy's Split Pea Soup

Here is another delectable recipe from our kitchen. We leave out the "herbe de provence" and remove the bay leaf before we puree. Enjoy.

3 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, diced
1 clove of minced garlic
2 ribs celery, finely diced
1 1/2 cups yellow split peas, rinsed and drained
1 tbsp "herbe de provence"
1 bay leaf

Heat oil on medium-low heat. Add onions, garlic and celery and gently saute for about 5 minutes. Add split peas and saute for another 5 minutes. Add "herbe de provence", bay leaf and water. Simmer on low heat for about 45 minutes or until peas are tender. Add more water if a thinner broth is desired. Remove bay leaf, then puree with an immersion blender. Season to taste with "herbamare" or sea salt, and pepper (if desired).

Note: Cindy likes to add one or two chopped, cooked carrots after the soup is pureed.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Cindy's Slow Cooker Vegetable Chili Recipe

Here is one of our favourite recipes. Cindy leaves out some of the peppers as that would be too hot for the children.

1 can (11ounce) condensed black bean soup or canned black beans in juice
1 can (15 ounce) kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 can (15 ounce) garbanzo beans, draned and rinsed (lentils is an option)
1 can (16 ounce) vegetarian baked beans
1 can (14.5 ounce) chopped tomato puree or 1 can (29 ounce) crushed tomatoes
1 can (15 ounce) drained, whole kernel corn
1 chopped onion
1 chopped green bell pepper
2 chopped zucchini
2 chopped celery stalks
2 chopped garlic cloves
1 can (4 ounce) diced chilies (optional)
1 - 2 chopped jalapenos (how much heat is preferred)
1 tablespoon chili powder
2 teaspoon cumin
1 tablespoon dried parsley
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon dried basil
1 tablespoon cilantro (optional)

1 - In a suacepan, saute the onion, bell ppepper, zucchini, and celery for about five minutes.
2 - In a slow cooker, combine black beans, kidney beans, garbanzo beans, baked beans, tomatoes, corn, and the ingredients from step 1.
3 - Season with garlic, chili powder, cumin, parsley, oregano, basil and the optional cilantro.
4 - Cook for about 6 hours on low.
5 - Serve with totillas, cornbread, rice or French bread.
6 - Enjoy!
7 - This freezes well.
8 - Leftovers are good on top of nachos.