This past week, our Salamanders began by checking our decomposition experiment. This was week 3 of this experiment. Which gourds were decomposing faster? The ones that were at room temperature, or in the fridge? The gourds that were in water, or soil, or just alone in a container?
Then we were off to the woods to explore and play - two things we are very good at! Weaving through the forest trails, we found some fun spots - some new ones, and some old favourites.
When we arrived at our base camp, there was an interesting invitation awaiting us!
While we ate snacks, Jen read us the book Wild Rose's Weaving by Ginger Churchill. Then we were invited to weave in the forest using small sticks as needles, passing yarn through the burlap canvas in the trees. We also wove ferns, cattails, and other leaves and plants into the fabric.
Then we played a couple of games, and had time to spend in our quiet sit spots. It's amazing how this group can just "sink in" now - sitting quietly, or drawing and writing in their nature journals.
Only one more week, Salamanders! Hard to believe that our fall session is almost over.
Inspired by the work of Andy Goldsworthy and other earth artists, our Painted Turtles Art Club spent our afternoon using natural materials to make works of art. Some of them lasted only moments before the wind swept them away; others have remnants still in the forest today.
There is such a simple, yet stunning, beauty in this art: arranging stones, sticks, leaves into patterns, circles, lines. Using the natural colours and tones of the earth. Here is some of Andy's work that inspired us:
We collected raw materials on a hike, then spent time in one section of the forest that became our gallery space. Here are some creatures we saw along the way:
And here we are, playing and creating forest earth art. There is so much simple beauty in nature!
It’s a fun challenge to figure out how to spend our short 2 hours together every Monday morning! There are so many things we could enjoy in the outdoors at Huron Natural Area.
This week, we focused on having time for pretend play in the woods. Pretend play is fantastic for language development, social skills, the developing sense of self, and of course, creative thinking.
As we walked to our play area, we noticed milkweed seeds on the ground, and lots of orange pine needles. When we stopped to look at the pond, we saw fish and noticed our reflections in the still water.
At our new play area, the children had lots of fun with the forest animals. It was amazing to see the pretend play as the stuffed animals came to life in their "natural habitat."
We also had some great forest-inspired snacks, including soup, pancakes, leaf loaf and muffins. Yum!! We have many keen bakers who concoct delicious combinations of forest ingredients.
It was a great morning of friends having fun together: pretending, playing, sharing, and exploring in the forest.
Our Thursday Polliwog group took advantage of the rainy, damp weather by going on a mushroom hunt. We loved looking for different colours and shapes of fungus in the woods. There are so many different kinds! The diversity is truly amazing.
We had our Fungus ID mat along with us, but some of the types were not on this mat, so we made up our own names for some of the mushrooms. Take a look at what we found!
Such a rainbow of mushrooms!
While we ate our snack, we read Mushroom in the Rain by Mirra Ginsburg. This is a traditional tale that tells of creatures making room for each other under a mushroom during the rain. It's amazing how many creatures fit under that mushroom by the end of the story!
Then it was time to play! We played under our own lime green mushroom, pretending to be creatures taking shelter from the rain. We played in the creek. We hunted for salamanders (and found one!). All too soon, it was time to begin our journey back.
So many things happen in our short time together each week with our wonderful Salamander group - it's hard to capture them all. But here are some photos from the past weeks to tell part of our story: of building, playing games, searching, exploring, and reflecting in the beautiful woods of Huron Natural Area.
Last week, our Monday Polliwog group explored the meadow, looking for insects that lived there. To our delight, in spite of the drizzle, we found a grasshopper and a praying mantis, along with some crickets and ladybugs.
The creativity in the group shone as we made creatures out of clay. Take a look at our bugs!
This week, we talked about other animals that live in the forest. We came up with lots of ideas... are there monkeys in these woods too?? :) Hmmmmm....
After looking at an old, vacant wasp nest, a bird's nest, and talking about different forest creatures, we played some games where we pretended to be animals - such as geese flying south.
After walking to our play space. We discovered there are a lot of burrows there! Once again we saw great creativity as we created some additional "homes" in our play space.
I wonder what we'll notice next week at Polliwog Forest School as we explore together with our new friends!
"Into each life some rain must fall..." ~ Allan Roberts
Our programs experienced some rainy days this past week. It was a different kind of experience to spend our time outdoors in the rain.
But there were gifts that came from this not-always-so-cherished type of weather.
In the rain, there are surprises. There are bugs and slugs and snails and other small friends. There are seeds, blowing and sticking and making their way down to the ground.
In the rain, there are stories. Huddling beneath a tarp, listening to the pitter patter of rain, eating a snack, and knowing that all is right with the world (as long as your socks are still dry).
In the rain, there is friendship. There is sharing and caring in a different way than in the sunshine.
In the rain, there is immense beauty and wonder. If you take the time to notice.
This week, the Polliwogs examined bugs, up close and personal.
We wondered whether the rainy days may have sent the bugs into hiding.
We walked through the meadow, and found bugs on leaves, flowers and in the tall grass. It was quite an adventure to walk through grass as tall as Polliwogs!
Here are some of the bugs and mini-beasts that we saw:
While the children ate their snacks, we read The Very Busy Spider by Eric Carle.
We finished our morning make bugs out of clay and toothpicks, representing what we had experienced that morning.
Here are some other articles for your enjoyment.