I am constantly learning about myself and my adult expectations by spending time with preschoolers. Our goal with Forest Preschool is to have some solid, genuinely child-led time out in nature. We teachers come ready every Friday with a plan in mind if we need to step in and guide the activity for the day, but the goal is to let the children dictate what we do or try for the day.
Today I offered that we go for a hike. I was immediately shot down. I assumed we were getting tired and bored of just being at Forest Camp. I was wrong. Today we had our Thank You Circle at Mossy Rocks. I assumed we would be too distracted to share and listen to one another. Again, I was wrong.
This crisp Fall Friday started with playing in the leaves. Some of us made leaf art and colored inside with Victoria and some of us raked the leaves in a pile to jump in outside with Debbie. It was a beautiful day for leaf discovery and play.
After a bathroom break we had Morning Meeting and we talked about empathy– a big word that was easy to understand. We talked about how to help others when they are feeling sad and what makes us feel better. After morning meeting we packed up and headed to Forest Camp.
Victoria read us a story called Leaf Man by Lois Ehlert while we had snack. Leaf Man is everywhere in Autumn! I asked if we wanted to go for a hike instead of staying at Forest Camp and was promptly (and loudly) told NO! So we worked on some Forest Camp projects. We went searching for a big rock to place in our fire circle to help direct the smoke up and away from our faces. While we were searching we found a million mushrooms! They were all different shapes, colors, and sizes. CB pointed out a Gem-Studded Mushroom and told us that if we break it open and it looks all white like a marshmallow inside, it might be safe to eat. He was totally right (kids can teach us amazing things!) so we broke a few open to examine. They were showing signs of being edible, but we left them for the chipmunks to eat. We also found some shelf mushrooms that were really hard, completely opposite of the puffballs. Then we smelled a smell. a very stinky smell. It wasn’t like a skunk, but almost like the smell of carrion. We tried to follow our noses because Debbie thought it was this cool mushroom, but we couldn’t find anything. All this searching eventually lead us to a perfect rock that Debbie could carry back to our fire.
We got back to camp and fixed-up our new fire pit. Some of us started collecting small sticks (mouse tails and chickadee perches) to make a lunch time fire and cook our special snack while others worked on our ever growing fort. And others still did some nature “painting”. They discovered that if you take the old coals from the fire, they make excelled crayons. We colored everything we could find! Still some of us were stylist and did nature hair-dos! There is so much to do at Forest Camp!
It took some time but we finally got a fire going and we cooked popcorn over the hot coals! Most of us had never seen Jiffy Pop and were amazed by the growing bulb of popcorn. It was a great way to use our senses: listen for the hissing oil and the popping kernels, smell the buttery corn, see the steam and bag rising, listen for the popping to stop, and finally TASTING our treat! It was a hit! So we ate popcorn with our lunches.
Then we hiked up to Mossy Rocks for a little play time. Our favorite thing to do is to climb into the fork of a tree and jump to Debbie on the other side or to sit and drive the rocket ship.
The last thing we did before hiking back down to our bags and parents was to have our Thank You circle at Mossy Rocks. These guys never cease to amaze me. Some of the things they were thankful for this week included:
- having friends to play with outside
- nature and the fall leaves
- making new friends
- forest camp
- The Earth!
I was so moved. As we hiked back down to meet our families I was reminded how important it is to give the kids this space to make connections, build comfort in the outdoors, get dirty, and learn to interact with one another. I love Forest Preschool and can’t wait for next Friday!
❤ Happy Trails