Thursday, December 17, 2015

Day 14

Newton School Forest Kindergarten - December 17, 2015

    While it still does not look or feel wintery, it is time to say goodbye to the forest classroom for a few weeks until we return in the new year. We began by giving and receiving forest gifts. We enjoyed a cool, misty, wet day building in the forest. We finished by each making a wish for forest kindergarten in the new year. Wishes ranged from cooking more food over the fire to seeing our forest classroom sparkling with snow!
    Today the children brought gifts of pinecone bird feeders to hang at their sit spots. When they arrived at their sit spots, they found gifts for themselves, too. Each received a yummy treat and a card with a new forest name on it. At morning meeting we greeted each other by new names: Benevolent Black Bear, Boundless Beaver, Brave Bobcat, Considerate Coyote, Eager Eastern Newt, Gracious Goldfinch, Optimistic Otter, Persistent Porcupine, Reflective Red-Tailed Hawk, Resolute Raccoon, and Wise Wood Turtle.
Gifts awaited children at their sit spots.
(Pretty gift bags gave way for plastic in the misty, wet weather!)
Hmmm, what is this? 
We found new forest names, information about our animals, and treats!
After finding their surprise gifts from the forest, the children left
their handmade bird feeders as gifts for the forest animals.
We hope they will visit while we are on vacation!
 The children spent a lot of time building in the forest classroom today.
working on a seatbelt for the bouncy chair...
perfecting a sit spot...
still working on that seatbelt...
making letter art to hang in the trees... 
enjoying the bouncy chair, now improved with a seatbelt...
and still building those bathroom walls!
Over a nice, hot fire we baked apples and added cinnamon and sugar for a warm, tasty treat.


Friday, December 11, 2015

Day 13

Newton School Forest Kindergarten - December 10, 2015

It looked more like early fall than late fall as we walked to the forest classroom. The children used their animal senses to observe on the way. With their coyote noses, deer ears, owl eyes, and raccoon hands they made observations which they shared during morning meeting.
using raccoon hands to collect and feel leaves:
friends observing the leaves in morning meeting:
observing a stick shaped like an animal:
checking the temperature:

During free play children gravitated towards one child's sit spot to decorate, help, and climb up to see what it was like. Others pretended to garden. Some helped build the fire and prepare snack.

1 in the tree brings a curious onlooker:
2 buddies hanging out in a tree:
and more join in for 4:
How many children fit in this tree? (5 at least!)
"gardening," which leads to an interesting discovery...
tiny ferns waiting under the leaf cover:
which will look like this in spring:
helping prepare snack...
forest pizza!
"This is the best pizza ever!" (It wasn't really.)
But it was pretty good!

In class before Forest Day the children prepare. They read a book about what is happening in the forest during this month. They make a plan for their morning activities. They plan for how to dress for the weather. They get dressed and carry their materials outdoors.

reading Naturally Curious with friends:
making a forest plan:
some examples of forest plans:

After Forest Day the children reflect on their experiences in drawing and writing. Here we see a drawing of forest pizza and "We roasted pizza!"

Friday, December 4, 2015

Day 12

Newton School Forest Kindergarten - December 3, 2015
The Magic Letter Tree! The students finally found it in their forest classroom! Several weeks ago they heard about this tree in a story told aloud. It was exciting to find the tree with all of its letters. Students noticed letters they knew, letters from their names, and letters they've recently learned in class. 
As part of morning meeting the class does a group activity, often a game. Here they are counting aloud with eyes closed while one classmate hides for a game of "hide and snake." Soon they will go find that student and each join the hiding student until the whole class is "hiding" in the same place. Morning meeting is important for building community in the classroom each day, whether indoors or outdoors.
After hearing our fire story told aloud by the adults before starting the fire, this week the students worked together to tell the story. Listening, comprehending, and retelling stories carries over from the classroom indoors to the outdoor classroom. 

The three photos above were taken by a student noticing interesting things during free play time.
During free play time outdoors students make observations, as seen in the photos above. They also engage in imaginative play, communicate with each other and adults, make plans and follow through, design and build, exercise, ask questions, and more. While these skills are also practiced indoors, the forest classroom appears to be the perfect place for this active, social, important learning. It is often amazing to see the play that goes on, from climbing trees to pretending trees are excavators they're driving; from observing moss to playing an elaborate game of "moss store" with several friends; from hammering stakes into the ground to using the same tools to act out tapping trees for sap. They are building good skills outdoors that they can use indoors and anywhere in their lives.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Day 11

Newton School Forest Kindergarten - November 19, 2015

Work Time:

Small groups worked on drawing and writing to put in time capsules to find later. They will bring warmth, color, and inspiration to us some cold winter day. We were inspired by the book Frederick, by Leo Lionni, in which four mice collect food for the long winter ahead and one mouse collects up sun rays, colors, and words to brighten up a cold winter day. 

Small groups learned about how animals prepare for and survive winter. They sorted animal cards by whether they migrate, hibernate, or adapt.

Play Time:

"We're just wandering."
"Driving a jeep"
Following a friend up a tree
Finding interesting things, like a hole in a tree
or a moth that camouflages well

Time to Make a Fire and Snack:

Building a fire
Preparing food
Waiting for quesadillas
Gathering together for a story and snack

Reflecting on Forest Day:
Dressing for the cool, rainy weather and safety during hunting season and cooking over the fire were important parts of Forest Kindergarten today.