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