We love the forest, if you couldn’t tell. We try to go every week, with a lovely group of friends. We have been joining this group for about two and a half years. In all this time, Little Miss has never ventured over “the tree”. Ever since we’ve been coming, there has been a tree that has fallen over there creek. It’s a large, beautiful tree that just begs to be climbed and crossed.
I consider Little Miss to be rather adventurous, and I’ve always assumed she’d eagerly climb it with the greatest of ease. However, in all our time in the forest, she never has. She would explore the exposed roots, and climb to the top of them, but never over – until this week.
We’ve had a few kids over the years who love to shimmy across to the other side, but it’s never had the pull that I thought it would with her. But this week, one of the newer girls she was playing with climbed right over – and she followed! It was really exciting to watch her try something new, and be guided by her peer. She needed a little encouragement on the way back, but she did it. I love watching children attempt something, of their own accord, and accomplishing the task. It’s so exciting!
I wonder how she’ll approach it next time…
What has your child recently tried and conquered?
“The forest is changing…” was Little Miss’ observation this last week in the forest.
Here she is making her observations of what she’s seen, about a month ago:
(I thought her boots were in the car. I was mistaken… Oh well! I forgot my boots, too!) The giant tree tumbled down sometime during a fierce windstorm in the previous couple of weeks. When we returned a couple of weeks later, the tree had settled substantially lower, and left a beautiful mud hole for the children’s enjoyment:
The children spent a lot of time discovering the bugs that had made homes, or had their homes recently upturned. They investigated the effects of mud on boots (sluuuurp), and the month earlier, they explored the clay that had formed deep below the tree’s roots.
But Little Miss’ observation that “the forest is changing…” was spot on, and completely spontaneous. Although a month ago we were starting to see little buds all over, this last week it was so much more pronounced. And these beautiful Trout Lilies scattered the forest floor:
I can’t wait to get back out there this week, to see what else has sprung up.
What is “spring”ing up around your area?
As I may have mentioned before, we are part of a Forest School Playgroup. We meet once a week, year round, in the forest. We have a beautiful creek that the children can explore, as well as fallen trees that are great for climbing. So, if you happen to see photos of us in the forest, they are likely from our playgroup.
One of the leaders brought yarn last week, so the children could make Journey Sticks. My mom had told me about them a few months ago, so I was eager to see if Little Miss was interested in making one. The purpose of the Journey Stick is to attach items you find along your journey – a collection of sorts – to a stick of your choice. Here is hers:
She chose flowers, weeds, leaves, and grass, because she felt they were beautiful. Some children decided to attach acorns, while others wanted a rock – creativity was needed to attach those items.
A journey stick is a fun way to have a momento from the forest. However, please be aware of your impact on your surroundings. This is not an activity we do every week, nor do we regularly pick items from the forest. Some flowers are protected in Ontario (like the Trillium), and if you pick them, you can face hefty fines. We generally take the approach of take nothing but photos, leave nothing but footprints, but occasionally, we create something from the forest. We try to be as hands on as possible, while also minimizing our impact as much as we can.
**Edit: This is not a Snapdragon. It is jewelweed. Please read my follow up post here.**
I love nature. I love God’s creation, and I think it’s beautiful, marvelous, and I often stand, or sit, in awe of it. And sometimes (often) I interact with it. Since I was a child, one of my favourite flowers has been the snapdragon. If you’ve never experienced snapdragons, you don’t know what you’re missing! These flowers begin to bloom in the month of August. In our neighbourhood, we they are scattered along the walkway in our ravine. Each year, I anxiously await their emergence.
What, you might ask, makes these flowers so special? They are TONS of fun! Fun? How can flowers be fun? Well, because they “pop”! Take a look at the three photos below:
Snapdragon Seed Pod
Popped Snapdragon Seed Pod
The first photo is of the snapdragon flower itself. It’s a brilliant orange, with specks of red. The second photo shows a seed pod. It looks kind of like a bean. A ripe seed pod is longer, and rather plump. These are the ideal pods. The third photo shows a popped seed pod. That is where the magic happens!
Once you find a ripe pod, very gently squeeze it. I can’t emphasize “gently” enough. Once you give it a gentle squeeze – POP! If they are particularly ready, even just brushing it with your hand will cause the pod to explode.
It’s a little alarming at first, but it is a LOT of fun 🙂 I promise!
Do you have a different name for snapdragons?
Do we need school to learn basic courtesies? Sitting still? Lining up? Taking turns? When I asked a friend what her child learned in Kindergarten, that was it. Basic courtesies. Here in Ontario, our Kindergarten program is a full day of play-based learning. But, would my children (we have 2 daughters now!) not know how to politely interact with other children without being formally taught? Nope!
We had a wonderful opportunity to join in with a Forest Playgroup back in September. It was their inaugural meeting, and we had never met any of these families before. There were about 15 families and their children. My daughter was just over 2 and a half. And you know what? They lined up. Without any adult interference or interruption! Can you believe it?
Let me set the scene for you. There we are, enjoying a pot luck snack, getting to know one another. A couple of children find a log lying on the ground, and they begin to use it like a balance beam. Well, this, naturally, catches the attention of some of the other children (including my own), and they start practicing their balancing techniques. It was a little disorderly until a fantastic, spunky, young five year old encouraged them to line up. And they did it! No fuss, no muss. They obliged, everyone got a turn (multiple, actually), and they had fun. All without an adult interrupting their process. It was beautiful.
They can do it. They are completely capable of learning from, and respecting, one another. And they don’t need us to “teach” them. Stand back, and watch, because amazing things unfold.
P.S. They also fell off the log, got back up, and tried again. Some really got the hang of it this time, and some gained skills for their go at it. No one got hurt, as they trusted their expertise and weren’t pushed, nor dissuaded. They just got to be kids.