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.
We had a wonderful first afternoon with our Painted Turtles Art Club this past weekend! This is a group of keen, and keenly observant, children who love to blend nature and art.
Our first lesson looked a few of Georgia O'Keeffe's flower portraits - how she magnified the flowers so that they filled the whole page. The petals of her flowers touched all four sides of the page, and showed the detail and beauty of one single flower. Like this:
With that in mind, we hiked through the meadow, looking for some worthy subjects to sketch. It's a great time of year to find wildflowers in a whole range of rainbow shades. We started collecting, being mindful to only collect something when we could see that there was an abundance of it around. Golden rod, wild asters, chicory, milkweed leaves, daisy fleabane, sweet wild clover, crown vetch, Queen Anne's lace... it was so hard to decide!
Then we made our way down to the pond, where we set up our art studio for the afternoon. We sketched a rough draft, then sketched with pencil onto our good copy. We outlined with a sharpie marker, then filled in the colour with watercolour paints.
All too soon, our time was over. Here are some of our works of art, set up in our pond gallery.
On our way back to see our parents, our Painted Turtle Art Club even spotted some painted turtles!
Inspired by Caine's Arcade and the Global Cardboard Challenge, we organized a morning of cardboard construction at the Huron Natural Area play space. It was a drizzly and cool morning, but not wet enough to make our cardboard soggy or dampen our creativity!
With boxes, tubes, tape, scissors, markers, etc. we made something out of nothing. We transformed a pile of recycling into pirate ships, monsters, sticks of dynamite, anchors, sails, captains of the ship, and snakes.
Look at some of our creations!
Some more fun resources about boxes and creative play:
* this Norwegian short film about a boy and a box
* these two books: Not a Box by Antoinette Portis, and What To Do With a Box by Jan Yolen and Chris Sheban
Over the last two weeks, our forest kindergarten group has focused on two "C" words: colour and camouflage. In week 1, we looked for flowers and plants to create a flower colour wheel.
So many colours and creatures to see on our walk!
At our base camp site, we've been building, exploring, and getting to know the woods and water. Our second week focused on camouflage - and some of us even wore camouflaged colours! We are a creative, imaginative group, so there was lots of pretending going on (dinosaurs, moose, and unicorns were in our forest today!), and plenty of building. Amazing what we can do with sticks! Make antlers, rake a smooth area for a home, build structures. We loved making pretend campfires, and there were dinosaurs and firetrucks who put out the fires when they got too big.
We kept a tally of different creatures that we saw on our walk. There were lots of butterflies, grasshoppers, and dragonflies out that day. We saw many cabbage white butterflies. They like to eat... guess what?? Plants similar to cabbage. We talked about what we would each be called if we were butterflies - based on what we most like to eat. There was a chocolate butterfly (me), a hotdog butterfly, an ice cream butterfly, and a pizza butterfly. What kind of butterfly would YOU be? :)
Hammers, Huge Swings, and the Freedom to Play