News from the Forest
By Miss Belinda
Happy New Year, Dear Parents!
The season has turned from Autumn into Winter, the transformation taking place over our holiday break. And though we have yet to discover the joys of winter, the children and I took full advantage of our beautiful autumn weather. We began our Kinderforest season in September with the color green surrounding us in the grasses and the leaves on the trees. Bees were buzzing, mosquitoes were biting, flowers were still in bloom, grasses were lush and tall, the sun felt warm upon our faces, the trees were still dressed and we could hear the wind rustling through the leaves of those trees.
As the weeks went by, we were thrilled to discover the signs of Summer giving way to Fall and our songs and verses during circle time as well as our stories celebrated the summer into fall transition and lead us into our daily explorations of signs of Fall. The children were observant noticing the leaves changing from green to yellow, gold, orange, red and brown, until one day, one of our young friend’s called out, “Look…the tree is naked!” Yes, the tree was, indeed, undressed. Brother wind had begun blowing the leaves off of their trees, and we were soon hiking through a blanket of leaves from Grandfather Oak as well as from Grandmother Maple. The children began finding more of Mother Earth’s autumn treasures…little round acorns with caps as well as without caps, big and small dark brown chestnuts, as well as shells of all shapes and sizes. Oh, and let’s not forget, the joy in finding glorious mud when the autumn rains fell.
While playing by the river we noticed Mama ducks and Daddy ducks swimming peacefully, sometimes dunking their heads into the water leaving their tails straight up in the air. We saw several people dressed in rubber suits and boots wading out into the middle of the river with fishing poles for the running of the salmon. We even saw and heard the big splashes of water as the salmon jumped out of and back into the water on their descent down river. Two times we witnessed a big sand crane with its huge wingspan flying up river. And of course we’ve observed Squirrel Nutkins nibbling on acorns and chasing each other up and down the trees.
The children’s play has been industrious…hiking and running up and down big hills and little hills, climbing up and down trees (within boundaries), balancing on and sitting upon felled tree trunks as well as hanging from low branches, swinging on vines, playing house or movie theater in shelters made of fallen sticks and branches, participating in chasing games, collecting sticks and branches, turning sticks into fishing poles to catch “fish” from the river, tossing stones and sticks into the river, and, of course, finding treasures provided by Mother Earth to tuck (or “stuff” as the case may be) into our backpacks and pockets to take home with us.
During the children’s play, I recede into the background staying close but not to close so I am able to observe their play. I strive to give them the experience of being able to play without a lot of adult intervention and hovering in order to allow them the freedom to go deep into their play and to be able to work out some issues they have with their friends. For young children, play is the way they make sense of their world. Where we, as adults, are able to think, process and talk about the experiences affecting us from day to day, developmentally, young children do not yet have those capabilities. Play is the way children work through their fears and anxious feelings as well as their feelings of happiness and joy. I stay in a place where they can see me and know that they can come to me if they’re hurt or if they need help in working through a problem with a friend. Many times, they are able to solve issues on their own often times with help from their friends.
I am also pleased to tell you that the very important skill of learning how to dress our own self in our outdoor clothes and boots is coming along very nicely. All of the children are very capable, and when given the time and expectation, all of them are able to get dressed on their own with minimal help from me. I am also able to ask the first ones dressed to help the others who aren’t quite ready. I do let them know that they can come to me and ask for help when needed, and they also know that I do expect them to try it themselves first.
For projects, we collected leaves from the forest to use when creating our own lanterns for November’s Lantern Festival, and then we dipped leaves into melted beeswax and gathered sticks to make our leaf mobiles, worked with green, yellow, red, orange and brown crayons as well as our collected leaves to create autumn leaf rubbings, and we dipped pinecones in melted beeswax and then sprinkled a little glitter onto the warm beeswax to create our sparkly, beeswax dipped pine cone ornaments. The children very much enjoyed making each one of their creations…they told me so! J
I look forward to exploring with the children the season of Winter in the forest, and in closing, I share with you one of the songs we sing while gathered for our Good Morning Circle in the forest clearing:
We turn again to the sun (turn and face the east with arms outstretched at sides)
Arise, everyone (raise arms upward)
We open our eyes to greet the day (point to each eye)
Open our hands to work and play (hold each hand out in front of you, palms up)
Open our hearts and begin to sing of all this day will bring (cross hands over heart)