October 30: Coyote’s Curse (or: how we accidentally scared some kids)

Today, based on some of the activities we chose, some of our preschoolers were scared. I want to make sure that our parents understand that it was not our intention to strike fear in their hearts, in a place that we hope they love and feel at peace. I thought that this would be a good place to express our intentions as I share the pictures of our day.

Sophie had recently returned from a nature mentoring workshop. One of the big activities in which she participated with other educators had been to travel the woods where this retreat was taking place and have some encounters along the way. She met characters that gave them clues and they had challenges along the way that they had to solve in order to reach the end goal (which I think was to rescue a unicorn).

She shared the excitement of this event with me, and we thought it would be great if we had a big culminating activity like this for our students. We thought that there could be some kind of problem and we would have to get special ingredients together to make the solution. We would gather the ingredients from all the places we have visited over the past 6 weeks as a way to review all the things we have done here at Forest Preschool.

We decided that a curse would be placed on the Green Mountain Audubon Center and if we didn’t make the antidote, we would turn into Wiggly Worms at midnight. We thought coyote, a known trickster could have placed the curse on us. Coyote is a character that has been around Audubon for a while and makes frequent appearances at camp. Coyote never means harm but likes to play pranks and has been featured in a few stories at preschool camp over the years. Plus, whenever we are out in the woods and an adult makes a coyote howl, we all call back and it means “Come back and listen for instructions!”

For our helper, a good witch that knows all the fairies at Audubon would know a way for us to break the curse and would give us a list of ingredients to find. Sophie would be coyote and made a paper plate mask. Jamie was the good witch and wore a witch’s hat.

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Almost everyone arrived in costume! We had lots of characters on this Halloween Eve. As usual, we started with some choice time in the yard.

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Then we went inside the barn where Fisher read us a special story from her house while we ate snack. It is called I Want My Hat Back by Jon Klassen. We found it appropriate since some kiddos love taking Fisher’s red hat.

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After snack we went outside where were heard a strange noise. It was coming from the bushes near the building. We put on our deer ears to listen and tried to figure out was it was. First we thought maybe it was an owl so we all hooted like owls and listened.

Nope. It didn’t sound like an owl.

Then we thought maybe it was a dog, so we all barked like dogs then listened. This sound was closer but not quite right.

Then some of us saw something moving in the bushes with a white face. It made the sound again and we said coyote!

This is when some of us got scared and wanted to go back to the barn. So we did. We talked to Fisher on the radio and she assured us that the coast was clear and came inside to join us. For those of us that were feeling scared, she showed us the mask and said that it was just her playing pretend. One of the guardians said it perfectly, “just like you are dressed up today, Sophie was pretending too.” We looked out the window and listened for the coyote and didn’t see any sign of it. Fisher told us she heard him say that we were all going to turn into wiggle worms unless we could break the spell. Some of our returning students have played wiggle worm, but for our friends that haven’t played wiggle worm, Chickadee demonstrated by wiggling like a worm.

Then Black Bear said she had some special information. We noticed Black Bear’s witch’s hat and she said that she was a good witch. She told us she knew all the fairies of the forest and they had taught her how to break coyote’s spell. She gave us a special recipe and told us we needed to find the ingredients.

IMG_2409Luckily, we knew where to find all of these ingredients.

Some of us were feeling brave and went to see if Coyote was outside while a couple others stayed inside and checked the windows. The coast was clear so we all went out to find our ingredients and add them to Black Bear’s cauldron along the way.

 

 

We searched high and low, from the yard to Mossy Rocks (a.k.a. The Rocketship), collecting ingredients as we went. We didn’t even see that coyote once.

Once we got all the parts, we mixed them in the cauldron with the potion and some special ingredient (vinegar), with a little fairy dust (baking soda).

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We closed our eyes and said some magic words three times.

Then some magic happened.

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When we opened our eyes there was a container. Chickadee said it contained the antidote and we brought it inside.

And ate it!!!!

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With the curse broken and a snack in hand, we got warm in the barn and read some stories until pick-up.

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It was a nice ending to the day. We hope the good feelings of being able to remember all of our special spots at Forest Preschool in order to save the day stick with us. Happy Halloween.

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Photo Credit: White Tailed Deer (with the help of Chickadee).

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