Wednesday, September 1, 2010

July and August Provocations


by Sara Rocio Raeesi-Gujani

Wow! Summer fever at the Forest Preschool has been and still continues to be in full swing!
The underbrush and the hot and dry weather have inspired us to travel along paths and trails and underneath the shadows of leaves and woods. It has also led us to discover new sites at Carp Ridge: the Rain Forest, the Yellow Diamond Trail, the Cabin in the Woods, the Rock Caves, the Fallen Tree Caves, and the White Arch. The children decided to give space and not to intrude in the Deer House, the Turkey Nest, and the Porcupine House. The children also decided to not go often and follow up with the construction of the Cabin in the Woods, because they have found no significant changes lately. What they have been curious about since early July is the Mystery of the Disappearance of the Water of the Creek. They wished for a magical force or power to bring the water back. This mystery, has led us to discover, inquire, and become resourceful in finding water, plants, and resources for survival while exploring in the wilderness. Indeed wilderness survival skills and awareness will continue to be core in our daily programming.

Water Habitats and Dessert Weather- Wilderness Survival Skills

The hot and dry July weather, plus the magical disappearance of the water in the creek has provoked the children to investigate the importance of the sun and water. They inquired about: What would happen if we don't have water? What would happen if the sun disappears? How can we survive without sun or water? Can you imagine the dessert weather and sand storms? How is it possible to live in the dessert? Is it possible to find water in there?
The children interest for Water and the Life in it has been a daily endeavour. We searched for water everywhere! We dug in the creek and found a precious treasure: sand! The investigation further led us to question: How deep must we need to dig to find water? How are the wells made? What tools do we need to dig and create wells? The children ideas created a story about how the water was created long ago. We went for a pond and stream safari and found a water spider, diving beetles, and various water bugs. In our wet lands detective games we did not find any frogs or ducks.
Other activities included: reading stories and books about dessert habitat, marine life and sea shore life [we learned that sea shells are shelters too]. We played the following games: Guess who I am? (a turtle, a crab, a shark, a starfish or a whale); the Wild Little People of the Wet Forest; Hide and Seek; Who are You; What is Special about You? We practiced “no sound” walks and “no sound” rests. Our tracking skills, led us to find turkey, porcupine, and deer scat. We built dessert shelters, found treasures inside apples and golden rod seeds, and explored various types of fungi. We created nature frames, adorned talking sticks, made tickle sticks, crowns, bracelets, and rainbows. We built structures with large sticks and in it we wove dry leaves, flowers, excavated natural streams, and camouflaged animal's traps around it.
July was absolutely dry and we could not make our mini-ponds. Thanks to Mother Nature, at least we found morning dew! We recreated the formation of lakes, rivers, and creeks. We practiced how to collect water from plants. We made a transpiration bag and a vegetable bag. The children found it magical! We will study and explore the world of plants in August.

Plant Explorations and the World of Botany-Wilderness Survival Skills

Trees, plants, flowers, fruits, leaves, seeds, twigs, bark, and grasses became a source of inspiration to inquire, investigate, identify and create. The children's plant source collection became a source of offerings for giving thanks any time we needed to take something from the forest floor or directly from the tree or plant. The children practiced to first stop, pause, and quietly ask permission of the tree or plant, then to present an offering (something from their collections). Then they waited to finally and gently take the part of the plant they wished to examine; promising they would give it back to Nature. As a result, the children soon realized how important it is to both ask permission to use others’ belongings but to also ask Mother Earth’s permission before borrowing her gifts. This practice has encouraged the children to develop a deeper awareness and connection with Nature.
Aside from giving thanks and honouring Mother Nature’s gifts, the children enjoyed exploring texture, dimension, colour, size, and fragrance of plants and trees. Other activities included tree, grass, leave, seed, twig, edible, and poison plants identification such poison ivy and doll’s eyes. The children initiated treasure hunts, a forest safari, and wild hikes. The Spider Ropes became a pirate's ship and we sailed across the forest in the quest for a golden treasure. The high winds and waves forced us to stop for a rainbow ice-cream, explosions of love, and a water break. We built tropical and jungle A-Frame shelters, made fern hats, created natural stamps using flower and leaf dyes, tasted red clover, and explored the plants and life in the pond. The world of botany and plant explorations will continue to inform our daily program. For specific details on this theme, which continues until September 3rd, please check the bulletin board.

Lately the children have been inspired and curious about the concept of the Four Elements of the Earth: Water, Soil, Air, and Fire. It has been a part of our daily routine to go round on walks around the Earth Circle located near the Vegetable Garden and to stop for a bit of water play and make floating letters. In September we will attempt to deconstruct the meaning of the Earth's Four Elements.