What a magical night for our lantern walk! Moon bright, stars shining, air crisp but not windy. SO beautiful to walk in the evening around the pond at Huron Natural Area.
We hammered away at tin cans, creating beautiful light-up-the-night lanterns. So many cultures have festivals and holidays around the theme of light. We learned a song from Germany that children sing at St Martin's Day parades, where they carry lanterns around the town while singing. It's an adaptation of the German song "Laterne." Here are the words we used:
My lantern, my lantern,
Sun and moon and stars,
I'll shine my light,
I'll shine my light,
Throughout the darkest night.
Such a great way to welcome these longer, cooler days... creating, singing, walking together past stars shining on still water, and shining our lights.
This week in our Painted Turtles group, we had a guest artist! Pat Bremner is a textile artist from Wellesley, Ontario. She showed us the art of needle felting, using natural wool, a needle, and a piece of sponge. Nature inspires many of Pat's pieces: trees, sunsets, flowers, birds, rainbows, water, and more.
Here she is by one of her pieces: Circles of Hope, a community project that brought many, many people together - each of them creating a circle for the tree.
Pat showed us some of her artwork, and encouraged us to experiment and let our hands and hearts lead the way.
So we set off to work!
And here are some of our creations:
Below is a project that we worked on together - everyone added a felted circle to our own tree of hope.
Thank you, Pat, for your inspirational visit! I'm sure many of us will be felting away the cold winter months this year.
We had a lot of fun at our drop-in event at Huron Natural Area on Saturday, "Look What I Made with a Leaf". We were inspired by our imaginations, and the ideas in this book:
and a palette of pressed leaves:
We went for a short leaf-collecting hike, then set to our creative work. It was so much fun to see what developed!
This week, our Painted Turtles looked at the artwork of Andy Goldsworthy, who uses materials from nature to create stunning works. He doesn't use glue, tape, or paint, but uses colours and items found in nature.
We watched clips from the movie "Rivers and Tides: Working With Time" that shows Andy at work. Several times, his creations are destroyed by the wind or water or an off-balance stone. Andy keeps trying, explaining that each time this happens, he gets to know the material he's using that much better. At one point, Andy watches his art being taken over by the rising tides. His art is ephemeral, changing, part of nature.
We went outside, looking for shades and shapes. And a good place to create. We found all of these, and set to work:
And here are our creations:
Our Nature Explorers had a field trip to the Huron Natural Area this week. One thing that we did together was "quiet spots." Some people call these "sit spots" or "magic spots."
We each picked a spot to sit quietly, with a clipboard and pencil in hand (if needed). I told the group that we would start with 5 minutes of quiet, and then check in.
It is an amazing thing to watch young children sit quietly in nature - writing, drawing, or just enjoying the sounds and sights around them. Slowing down, breathing, and noticing little details.
When 5 minutes were over, I made a hooting owl sound. 5 out of 6 participants begged for more "quiet spot time." So how could I refuse?
Quiet time seems to be in short supply in our lives today: our moments are filled with noise of one type or another. To sit in silence by a still pond is indeed a treat.
Several asked, "Can we PLEASE do quiet spots again next week?"
Then we went with nets in hands to see what we could find in the pond: dragonfly larvae, damselfly larvae, pond snails, water boatmen, frogs, and turtles.
Fall: seriously, is there anything more glorious than the changing of leaves? We marvelled at the many colours of water this week, because of the reflections (not one of them was blue!): red, orange, yellow, yellowish-green, dark green, light green, grey, white, black, greenish-black.
What a hopeful, inspiring thing it is to release monarch butterflies and wish them well on their long migration.
This week we released 6 butterflies in Breithaupt Park and Huron Natural Area. Bon voyage!
"Just living is not enough," said the butterfly. "One must have sunshine, freedom, and a little flower." - Hans Christian Anderson
Week 3, we explored under logs in the deciduous forest. It's amazing what we found!
Six eastern red-backed salamanders! Countless slugs and snails! Earthworms! Millipedes! Sow bugs! Pill bugs! Centipedes! Logs are like bug hotels - so much goes on inside and underneath this rotting wood.
We did some above-log exploring too!
We've also been enjoying nature's palette of leaves at this time of year. We made some earth art, or ephemeral art, using what we found in the forest. This is inspired by artists like Andy Goldsworthy and Nils Udo.
It's amazing how many different colours of leaves we can find!
Here is the site of some of our masterpieces. When we returned there this past week, the wind had blown the leaves away, but the frames were still there - every week this "earth art" changes, depending on the weather (and possibly passers-by too!). It's ephemeral, fleeting, changing, brief. That's why these photos can help us to remember - the brilliant colours, the warm days, the mosquitoes!, and the crisp smell of fall in the air.
Week 2 had our NEWTs discovering some different species that live in the pond. With big nets and buckets in hand, we went down to the rocks to set up our exploration station.
It's amazing what we scooped out of the pond! Here's a partial list:
We found the catfish in the mud at the side of the pond, just sitting there. When we put it in our bucket, it swam happily around.
On our way to the pond, we spotted some painted turtles, sunning themselves on logs. It's amazing how much life is in one pond! It was fun to catch frogs, but our rule was: if the frog escaped from the bucket or our hands, we had to try not to catch that same frog again. We didn't want to tire the frogs out!
It's amazing how much life is in one pond! We gently put every creature back in its home before returning to our own homes for supper.
What a beautiful day to explore the pond at Huron Natural Area!
Do you remember building forts as a child? Simple ones, like crocheted afghans draped over living room chairs and sofas? Or more complex ones, involving sticks, logs, and bark from the forest, precariously balanced to create a shelter?
I remember building indoor forts from the chairs my mother had moved while she scrubbed the floors. And forts in the barn with dangerously dark tunnels snaking through straw bales.
Fort building is the stuff of childhood.
It's a universal activity that incorporates so many delicious things: imagination, cooperation, engineering, experimentation. Satisfaction, stamina, delight, magic. A feeling of safety and refuge. A quiet, secret space. A sense of adventure. Liberation, being yourself, trying on new roles, problem solving, negotiation, discovery.
"Do you think we could live out here sometime?" one asked.
"Definitely! This could be where we sleep, and we'd cook our food over there. We'd just need a tarp to keep the rain out." said another.
"And some sleeping bags and flashlights. Just in case there are bears," another added.
It's so important that our children have spaces where they can let their imaginations run wild.
In our Nature Explorer group at Breithaupt Park, we have a lot of children who are interested in fort building, using materials they find on the forest floor. There is a fort that was started in our spring program, but that has largely been abandoned for new projects. It's becoming a fort village!
Take a peek into our construction site!
We're looking forward to many adventures and construction times to come!
Hammers, Huge Swings, and the Freedom to Play