First Forest Days

We have had two Forest Mondays already, and what fun these kids have been having in the woods. We are learning to climb trees and play with sticks safely, finding lots of caterpillars, and getting to know each other. Here are some of today’s (first ever!) Forest Plans.


Finn: “That is Hunter and that’s me and that’s a robot. I’m playing robots.”


Cameron: “I’m going to try to look for some portals.”


Grace: “I am going to look for bugs.” She drew a family of spiders, with the “Mommy-long-legs, sister-long-legs, and daddy-long-legs.” You can see their long legs clearly!


All the Forest Kids at the end of their first Forest Monday! Looking forward to more.



This post is a special shout out to Trust for Our Future, MSAD 75s education trust, that allowed us to purchase Grundens raincoats, long underwear, and a tarp to stay warm and dry out in the woods. This gear made our Forest Days possible!  It only rained one day this spring, and of course taking pictures while teaching is even harder in the rain, so these are all I’ve got. Warm and dry kids in the rain = happy kids in the rain (plus salamanders and worms don’t hurt either). This was one of our happiest Forest Mondays!


Isla holding a salamander with such care.


Dakota found something: I can’t tell if it is a worm or a slug.


This was our first day finding redback salamanders, and in fact my first time finding them in these woods. I looked hard last year, but didn’t find any. Rain must have brought them out!


They like to crawl up, and it take a steady hand to keep them from wiggling off.


One of our First Grade Leaders catching drips from the tarp with a leaf “cup.”


Isaiah and his stick.  Note the fleece hat underneath, in June. It was cold! This game was moving too fast for me to get many pictures.

Last Forest Monday

This week was our last Forest Monday. We read the book All the Places to Love by Patricia MacLachlan and talked about places we love– at home, school, and in our woods.

Image result for All the place to love book

We wrote our last Forest Journal about the place we love best in the woods.


Isaiah: “I play Minecraft at my tree.”


Avery: “I love my tree because it is so peaceful.”


Henry: “I love the whole woods because it is beautiful.”


Ian: “My favorite spot is the climbing pine because I can fall in holes.”


Ainsley: “My favorite spot in the woods is the log down the hill.”


Isla: “I like to play on the pine tree because it is fun to play on.”


Willow: “I like the apples because it is yummy.”


Gregory: “My favorite spot is the stream because it is beautiful!”

And here are a few pictures from our last Forest Monday:


Ainsley took a big spill and Paisley helped cheer her up.


Dakota and Ian discovered how to pull up the whole plant, roots and all.


“Look, this plant has five leaves!” We also noticed they were shaped like hearts. 


Willow and Dakota found a nightcrawler! 


Willow in her Sit Spot.


Avery at her tree in her Sit Spot. She was copying the songs of birds.


Henry in his Sit Spot.


Isaiah. I think his stick was a rocket launcher.


Paisley in her Sit Spot.


We found tons of Indian Paintbrush.


Dakota was pointing out blackberry plants everywhere! 

Remember, families, please take your kids out to the woods this summer. They would love to share their favorite places with you. Thanks for a fabulous year!

A Good Day for Climbing

A beautiful, sunny, 65 degree day! We didn’t even bother with Grundens today, because we had a short Forest Day. That meant climbing was especially appealing. And we heard our regular chestnut-sided warblers during Sit Spots. Please-please-please-please-ta-MEETCHA! They are very loud!


On Ian’s leaf there were hard little bumps. They might be eggs. 


This is Avery’s tree. She didn’t know what it was, so we looked it up in our tree book. It is an ash tree!


We found these orange-petaled flowers. They looked like little sunflowers. 


This is Ainsley and she is the helper so she is carrying the bucket. She also is putting a buttercup near her chin to see if she likes butter.


Isla was making a fairy house in her Sit Spot.


Henry found this giant leaf in his Sit Spot! 


This is a tent caterpillar. You can tell by the white stripe.


Dakota found tiny fiddleheads in his Sit Spot!


We found leaves on a tree that we thought was dead. It was our bouncy tree. The leaves were growing out of the trunk.


Charlotte saw a chipmunk and then “Whoosh!” it went into this hole where she is pointing.


Avery was asking “Why are you upside down, Ms. Atkins?”


Ainsley was climbing too.


Isaiah climbing.


Dakota was saying, “I feel like I could sleep here forever.”


Henry and Gregory climbing.


Willow was carrying a big stick back for firewood. It was too heavy so she had to ask Dakota for help.


A superb rainy day. Annabelle and Emma from Mrs. Mackenzie’s class (as well as their mom!) joined us today. Mr. Frank kept us warm with a fire. Some notes from Ms. Atkins:


Someone had the idea to catch the drips off the tarp with folded leaf “cups.”


Thank you Grundens and Trust for Our Future for our new raincoats that we finally put to use. And thank you Mr. Frank for our excellent fire on a cold June day.


First salamanders of the woods! We learned to hold them gently.


Everyone had to try holding them. Once, or twice, or three times.


I believe it was an eyepatch made of a fern. Who knew that rain makes leaves stick to your face? Lots of laughter today.

And in the students’ own words, today’s highlights:


Isla. The “Sonic” bunny is pretend.


Olivia started to write: “I played with…” but her labels help us figure it out.


Avery: “I got water with Dakota from the tarp.” Her picture clearly shows how the water ran off the tarp!


Henry: “I found a cricket. I held it. It did not move.” His picture shows his hand hold the stick and the cricket. Henry carried it all the way up the hill like this to show to Mr. Frank!


Gregory. The wood we found upstream looked like it was from an old snowmobile bridge. We stayed away from the rusty nails!


Ainsley: “Me and Isla were holding a salamander. And I liked holding the salamander.” That is not an easy word to stretch out!


Isaiah: “I played Sonic with Paisley.” Way to get down the beginning sounds you hear Isaiah!


The Best Hot and Green Day in the Woods


The apple trees were blooming and Ms. Atkins took our picture by the apple trees. 


The woods were full of green leaves! 


The white flowers were everywhere. They look like upside down tulips. 


Gregory found some hair with a bone hooked to it. We were thinking maybe a skunk or a raccoon. It felt soft.


Dakota and Paisley found a bunch of caterpillars on a spiderweb. It was in the middle of a branch.  They are not browntails because they have a different kind of nest. But we are still not going to hold them. 


Willow and Paisley were trying to get the caterpillars off and they got some on their sticks. 


Here is Paisley holding the Daddy Long-legs. 


We held this spider and it tickled. It is called a Daddy Long-legs. It had dots in the middle. They don’t bite. The spider broke its leg so it was dragging one. And then Paisley put it in her Sit Spot in a safe place where it would not blow away. 


We were playing seesaw! 


Spring Outdoor Adventures


The leaves are really starting to come out and they are turning green. Before they were reddish orange when they were little. This is because it’s almost summer.  Paisley’s tree is a maple and we can tell because of the leaves.


Ainsley’s dad, Mr. Lamoreau, came out in the woods with us. He helped us. He helped us when Henry hit his head on a tree. That is Ainsley’s tree.


This is Ian’s tree and we are not sure what kind it is. It isn’t a maple. The leaves look different. Avery thing is it is a beech tree. We’ll have to look it up in a book.


Gregory found a slug on the ground.


He got slime on his hand.


This is a part of a robin egg. We are wondering if blue jays and bluebirds also have blue eggshells.


Here is Dakota at his Sit Spot. He is laying on the ground. He was trying to be quiet. Before, he was making a squirrel nest in his Sit Spot.


Paisley is in her Sit Spot. She was pretending that the ground was hot lava.


Avery and our First Grade Leaders, Journey and Mollie, were building fairy houses. Mollie and Journey were working together and Avery was working on a fairy house by myself. The fairies that come are very lucky because Avery make them a giant salad.


We learned about fiddleheads from Mr. Lamoreau. The ones on the right are the kind we can eat. They have brownish orange leaves on the stems. The ones on the left are not good to eat because they are light green and don’t have the orange leaves on the stem. They are also not good to eat if they are unrolled.


Here are Gregory and Henry climbing. Gregory was pretending to fall down the tree.


Dakota, Ian, and Isaiah were playing Minecraft. Dakota was swinging everywhere.


We found some baseballs and golf balls in a hollow stump. Some were broken and some were made out of string.


We found strawberry flowers everywhere!


Dandelions grow everywhere too!

A Fun Forest Day!

Today it was hot out in the woods and a little breezy. It was very beautiful. We heard a lot of birds, including crows and chickadees. We found lots of bugs including centipedes. Today black flies were flying around our faces a little bit. But they were not biting anyone yet.

Some of the fun things we did outside today were:

  • Gregory and Henry found a slingshot and shot sticks up in the air on it.
  • We also shot Mr. Frank’s bandana up and two times he got it stuck in the tree!
  • We made chocolate cake in the ravine.
  • Ian was jumping in the water.
  • Dakota kept on swinging on his tree.
  • Some of us worked on a fairy house village.
  • Charlotte played in the mud.

We noticed that a bunch of leaves were coming out. We kept on finding leaves over and over again.


Ian is looking at plants and leaves. They might be called three-leave clovers or they might be strawberry plants. 


Henry found a slug at his Sit Spot. It was walking on the ground. Dakota said, “Do you mean slithering? Because slugs don’t have legs!”


Here is Olivia L. (from first grade) next to her tree from last year! It is a cherry tree which is the same kind as Charlotte’s this year. 


Ian is putting his finger on the bud of his tree. The bud is turning green a little bit, but it is still brown. This is important because this is when the leaves and flowers come out. 


This is Ainsley with a red flower on her tree. It looks like a cocoon, but cocoons like hanging down. It is not hanging down. 


Avery found a green bud on her tree too!

First Green in the Woods!


“I want to find a chickadee in my Sit Spot.” Ian’s picture is really detailed and he put spaces and a period at the end of his sentence.


“I hope to find a turkey up in the air.” Henry has  a clear picture and is working on hearing all the sounds in his words.


“I am going to see some birds on the ground.” Avery used lowercase letters, spaces between her words, and her words match her picture. She also used great color to show the kinds of birds: A robin, a bluebird, a crow, and a chickadee.


On the playground, we saw two eagles up in the sky.  Isaiah and Mr. Frank saw them first. They flew in a circle around us and they came back. We looked through our binoculars to see them.


Olivia and Charlotte found green plants in their Sit Spots. Actually, they were everywhere in the woods. Trees were starting to put out leaves too!


Ainsley was looking through her binoculars in her Sit Spot, looking for a bird. She saw two.


Avery was climbing up her tree so she could sit in the branch. Dakota got his leg stuck in the Y of that tree today too.


Gregory and Willow were making a home for squirrels and a garden for them. They were planting buds that would grow for the squirrels.


Dakota found a worm when he was trying to pull a tree out of the ground.


Here is Gregory climbing  a big tree. Avery and Olivia climbed it too. It was a new tree for us and it was really tricky. Stuff kept getting in Avery’s hair and the green stuff got in her eyes. Gregory went up really high! And he had to get down because that was too high.


Here is Brayden, our First Grade Helper, climbing. He played a lot of tag with Henry.


Willow was using this stick to measure how high the water was.


Thank You Trust for Our Future!

Earlier this year, the Trust for Our Future helped us buy rain coats, a tarp, and base layers to support our outdoor learning. Mrs. Booth, from the Trust, came out on Monday to see us in action outside. We each wrote a Thank You card and here is the letter we wrote as a class. Thank you, TFOF! Our Forest Days would not be possible without this gear!