Thursday, January 26, 2017

Penguins in the Woods

Before Forest Day today we read a book about movement called Oscar and Cricket, about two friends who find out all about movement. They find a ball and roll, push, and pull it and change its direction. The children were asked to think about movement outdoors today in preparation for an upcoming science unit. Some rolled balls in the field, another slid a milk container down a small hill, and while they may not have been thinking about the topic, they experimented with movement while sliding down hills in the forest! They'll have plenty of experience with movement to think and talk about. We also had hot cocoa with snack and a retelling of our fire story by the fire. Later in the day everyone drew and wrote about the day.
a nice fire to sit around and eat snack, drink cocoa, and listen to a story
thumbs up on the hot cocoa
Weather Report by Motivated Marten:
The temperature at 10:00 is 36º F.
The weather is sun with some clouds. There's some blue in the sky.
Temperature guesses included 26, 30, and 40º F.
(At 12:00 the temperature was 43º F.)

Play time:

They found a good hill in the woods and slid, rolled, raced, and ran back to do it again. They pretended they were penguins sliding on their bellies down the steep hill.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Snowmen in the Woods

   On the way into the forest everyone had the challenge to think of words to describe snow. They looked, listened, touched, smelled, and tasted to discover words about snow. During morning meeting everyone shared their words. After morning meeting and the weather report, we ate snack which included forest pizzas which some children helped prepare indoors and then we cooked over the fire. With snack we heard the book Stranger in the Woods, about forest animals who find a mysterious stranger—a snowman—in their forest and investigate, never seeing the children who put the snowman there. The book has fun words and beautiful photographs. At playtime many were inspired to build snowmen, too, and we had several in the forest and field!
   Indoors later we learned a likely answer to a mystery of what was making holes in a nearby tree. We looked at the evidence of wood pieces found on the ground and photos of cavities made in the tree. After lots of guessing who made the holes and wood pieces, we read about and saw a pileated woodpecker in a book and decided that must be the answer to our mystery. 
checking the snow gauge
tracks and other sign of animals
making our own tracks into the forest
investigating snow
Snow is:
soft... then harder when you pack snow together,
fun to play with,
darker and lighter,
packable, and
odorless (a word we learned when the snow smelled like nothing).
a busy but quiet sit spot time
Weather Report by Daring Deer:
The temperature at 10:20 is 26º F.
The weather is cold, blue in the sky with clouds, not windy.
Temperature guesses included 23, 24, 27, and 40º F.
working hard
making a friend
cleaning up the forest classroom
a snow creation by a group
a comfy spot returned to regularly
working together
a comfy seat
check this out
leaving the forest classroom the fun way

Friday, January 13, 2017

Owls and Mice in the Snow

The children began with a walk through the fields using their senses to observe. They went right to sit spots for a few minutes of settling in, then they got together for morning meeting. They greeted each other using their new forest names which was challenging because they needed to remember not only others' names, but their own, too! We were happy to have Brave Barred Owl's mom with us for some of the morning, learning our routines and playing with us! We learned a new game where a few owls chase many mice in their tunnels, or for us paths in the field, as the mice grab food and save each other from the fast owls. Continuing with the theme of animals in winter, we enjoyed a story with puppets about how the first owl got its silent flight while trying to catch a mouse under the winter snow. The children had an active, cooperative playtime with big activities including rolling large snowballs and shoveling as well as smaller activities including building mouse houses and intricate traps. Later in the day they reflected on the morning in their journals (in which teachers are encouraging more details in drawings and increasingly independent writing) and started gathering ideas about Forest Day in a big group book. 
Courageous Crow uses his sense of sight to find a cool ice patch.
Bold Blue Jay and Motivated Marten use the sense of smell to investigate under the snow.
"Our snowman" got a hug and greeting from one child on the way into the forest.
The children greet each other using their new forest names. 
Weather Report by Reliable Rabbit:
The temperature at 9:54 is 40º F.
The weather is cold, icy, cloudy, 8 inches of snow.
Temperature guesses were: warmer, 40º F, and 50º F.
The group listens to directions before playing Owl and Mice in the Snow.
The group plays Owl and Mice in the Snow. The pink scarves are the mouse food, and everyone has to stay on the paths which are like mouse tunnels beneath the snow. 
Cheerful Chickadee rolls a big snowball in preparation for a snowman.
Reliable Rabbit and Observant Osprey shovel the forest floor. (They didn't quite finish).
Motivated Marten constructs a trap.
Perceptive Peregrine Falcon and Caring Catamount build mouse and squirrel houses complete with acorns to eat.
A group is swinging, "rock climbing," and helping each other into and out of the big tree.
Brave Barred Owl created a porcupine out of snow and sticks, measured its circumference, then compared that to the circumference of a tree. All in a day's work play!
Mindful Moose hangs out in the big tree at the end of the morning's play.
A question today was: What is the best thing about Forest Day?
Here are some of their answers:
our sit spots because you get to do a lot of fun things
You get to build things that are awesome.
chopping at a log
playing with my friends
that my mom comes sometimes
playing the game today
rolling that snowball
playing in the snow.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Forest Names

Everyone received new forest names today!
Everyone got a card with a positive adjective about them, an animal name, a photo of the animal, facts, and a photo of a track or other sign of the animal. We will use these at forest day for greetings and different activities. You will now hear about: Reliable Rabbit, Brave Barred Owl, Motivated Marten, Courageous Crow, Earnest Ermine, Bold Blue Jay, Perceptive Peregrine Falcon, Caring Catamount, Cheerful Chickadee, Mindful Moose, Daring Deer, and Observant Osprey. Everyone heard some facts about their animals. Many were excited about their new forest names!
sit spots
We heard the book Over and Under the Snow, by Vermont author Kate Messner, about the animals that "eat, sleep, hide, and play over and under the winter snow." Through the eyes of a child cross-country skiing, we learn about animals in the open spaces and tunnels between snow and the ground, called the subnivean zone. We meet animals including a red squirrel, vole, queen bumblebee, and a fox who listens carefully above the snow then pounces through the snow to catch a mouse underneath. Later we learned more about these animals in winter.
sharing at morning meeting 
Weather report by Courageous Crow:
The temperature at 9:45 is 26º F.  
The weather is colder, windy, sunny, bright.
(Temperature guesses included: 8, 9, 15, and 26º F.)
sliding and climbing at play time
more sliding and climbing
playing Ninja Spy in a ship
watching for friends before sliding down the hill
pancakes for snack
talking about forest day before going indoors

Forest Day plans are completed by the children in the morning before going out. This gets them to think about and prepare for the weather. It also gives them experience planning ahead, gathering materials they may need, and communicating with classmates about what they might do together. Of course it is also practice writing!

Forest Day journals are completed in the afternoon after the morning outdoors. Each child has his/her own journal. This helps them to reflect on their time outdoors, decide what was most important, and communicate in writing and drawings. Early on most children draw and then tell an adult their words, and later many write by themselves or with less assistance as they gain skills and confidence in their writing.