Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Transformation at LifeWays by Emily Hall, Forest Kindergarten Teacher and Caregiver

   After the brutal winter we had, the transformation of the forest to springtime is even more lovely and evident. We had quite a few brief hikes through the forest, listening to the cracking of the trees this winter both in the Woodland Suite and in Forest Kindergarten. Many transformations in the children have also been evident in the observations we at LifeWays have been writing about the children. I will share some general and specific observations I have made.
      Tree climbing skills have improved immensely among the three and four and five year olds. Children who once needed help getting back down are now much more self sufficient and quick at returning from their favorite branches. Forest Kindergarten Circle has expanded from ten minutes to twenty with an extended rest time and story at the end, and the children have learned to focus for longer periods of time. The Forest Kindergarten children can now hold hands and sing while moving at a quick pace in a circle without breaking the ring or getting too silly. 
     Children from the suites who join me on the couch for story time are able to focus on an entire book at a time now, who at the beginning of the year were just ready to play on the rug while they waited for lunch. (Nothing wrong with that, but listening to story when you are ready to is a good thing).  Table setting  has progressed from a highly managed event to children who know to put their outdoor gear away while I get the silverware, cups, and plates out. Some older two year olds have recently started helping, and they are doing a great job.
      Our stamina on hikes has improved too. Forest Kindergarten made it all the way to Kern Park with a whole half hour to play on the playground, in time for circle last week. At the beginning of the year, it took us much longer to hike so we didn't have as much time to play. ( Long hikes can be lovely when you stop to look at "troll homes" (fallen trees with the roots exposed) , hunt for rocks at  Rock Spot, and to bang sticks on Troll Bridge, and often we have slow hikes on purpose). Last Friday, everyone in the suite was such a good listener that we picked flowers in the forest. 
     Baby Ben has started joining the suite for nap.  Soon, a new baby will join us, we hear. Just like the new springtime baby in Children of the Forest by Elsa Beskow, last month's naptime story. Right now at nap I am reading The Boy Who Spoke the Language of the Birds, a tale about a boy who understands the stories the birds tell and becomes the king's storyteller. He is changed into a dog by the princess' foolish wish on a magical stick, and rescues her stolen brothers from the Fairy Queen. In May I will start reading Flowers Festival by Elsa Beskow. In June I will be reading Flossie and the Fox, a story about a southern girl who meets a fox in the woods in the summertime who tries to steal her basket of eggs.  The stories I tell at naptime are different  depending on the childrens' needs for longer or shorter stories, and also with the changes in nature.
     The two year olds who at the beginning of the year didn't notice a change in story are starting to notice when the stories change, and tell me which ones are their favorites. Certain friends have favorite parts of stories, and woe be to the one who reads it wrong! One sits on his bed and tells an entire book by heart before nap. Another likes the part when the children of the forest pick up the dead snake. A few have particular requests for some special books to take to their cots.
   Something else I have observed is the two, three and four year olds developing their memories. They remember clearly when we found the first baby snake of the season and I put it under the rock wall. Now they point to that spot and say "there are snakes under there". When I finish the observations I am working on, I would gladly share them with you! Come and see me if you would like to read what your child has been doing, and how he or she has been changing and blossoming.

Have a happy Spring! - Miss Emily

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