Muddy Monday

We did a full afternoon in the woods today, and boy were we exhausted! We learned how to put on Grundens, then trekked out to the woods (gathering apples on the way), ravenously ate lunch, and then played, played, played. We learned about tree climbing safely, the outhouse, and explored farther afield, making many new discoveries. We read Over in the Meadow and practiced counting to ten and then found groups of nature objects in ones, twos, and threes– like sticks, pine cones, leaves, and berries.

It is harder to take pictures when it is just me outside, so bear with the sparer blog postings until I get some volunteers out with me!

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Wet spiderwebs in the field on the way to the woods.

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Gregory discovered a great way to get down the big hill!

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And of course we discovered the mud. The area was lush with ferns and had just enough water in the stream to jump over. Good thing for those Grundens! Here is Isla and Ainsley.

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We also found the big log and everybody took a turn crawling or walking across it. Here is Isaiah, Gregory, and Henry.

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First Forest Monday!

A new class of Kindergarteners turned into mighty woods explorers today! We hiked all the way out to the woods, found the fire circle and tarp, and played together. We learned about how to play safely with sticks, found lots of worms, and used saplings as “bouncy trees.” We can’t wait for next week.

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Henry found a golf ball on our hike, then found a great stick shaped like a golf club, and was practicing his putting.

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Looking for worms.

Last Forest Friday

Today was our last Forest Friday of the year. Hot and sunny, but still, not many bugs. We did find lots of spiders.  It was also Jaydon’s birthday circle, and his mom and dad came out to join us.

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Look how big these Forest Kids are. They look ready for summer and then, first grade!

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The Forest Kids know to wait at the edge of the forest for me. And don’t go in front of the helper! Today the helper was Olivia.

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On our hike we found cherries at last! This isn’t Olivia’s tree, but she has been looking for them on her tree ever since she found out it was a cherry tree. These ones are not ripe yet.

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On our hike Kinslee, Aisley, Alexis, and Ella also found these nuts everywhere. They were also not ripe, and very hard.

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Sit Spot time (Olivia)

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Jaydon

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Mollie starting a new fairy house in her Sit Spot.

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Aisley made a bench in her Sit Spot. I guess it made a good bed too!

 

Jaydon found a few tiny pieces of eggshell on the ground. We looked all around for where they had come from, but couldn’t find a nest. It must have been way up high, he told me. I realized that I’d also found a few gray feathers nearby earlier. Had some kind of predator eaten both bird and eggs?

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We learned about making fairy houses today too.

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We found quite a few of these caterpillars today (especially Kinslee, our animal-finding expert). They are not browntails and don’t give you a rash, but I mistakenly called them gypsy moths. In fact they are tent caterpillars, which I have also never heard of giving anyone a rash. However, we still didn’t hold the caterpillars. It was hard because they are so fun to watch.

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Down the hill, many miners were hard at work today. Aisley and Reuben were mining for bones.

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Jaydon, Malaky, and Henry were mining for zombies.

I asked the Nature Kids what I should write in our last blog post, and, in addition to everything above, Josie summed it up nicely: “Say that we had fun and that we hope you have fun in our woods too.” Yes. As we move into summer, please bring your children to the woods to play with friends and siblings. It has been a phenomenal year playing and growing together, and it doesn’t have to stop now that Kindergarten is over.

Happy Summer!

Thank You Families!

Could the woods be any more lush? They seem to be getting greener and greener. Another cool Forest Day, with sprinkles of rain during lunch. Today parents and grandparents joined us out in the woods for our Forest Celebration. They hiked through the ravines and over the streams, passed around the leaf to say good morning, sat with us in our Sit Spots, and saw what kind of climbing, exploring, and playing we do every week.

Thanks to those of you who came out! And thank you to all of you who have been so flexible and supportive during this whole year of Forest Fridays. The gear, the backpack packing, the smoky, dirty, tired kids on Friday afternoon… We appreciate all that you’ve done to help make these days successful.

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Remember when this ravine used to be so hard for us? 

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Alexis’s mom showed her how to make a little house from sticks.

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Aisley’s Grammy and Bumpa with her in her Sit Spot.

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Beatrice’s dad and grandma with her in her Sit Spot– they must have seen something!

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Josie way up in the tree.

More Birthdays (and Babies!)

A beautifully green, cool June day in the woods. No bugs! We were lucky enough to be joined by Mollie’s mom, Miss Corie, who used to run her own outdoor Kindergarten. It was also Malaky and Henry’s birthday circle. Henry’s mom and dad came with treats for us. They brought baby Molly, Mrs. Mackenzie’s daughter. It is great to have visitors of all ages out in the woods!

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We found lots of buttercups again, but Reuben found a different kind of plant. He thought it might become a dandelion because that’s what the bud looked like when he took it apart.

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Ella and Henry discovered that our mud hole has orange stuff in it. Weird!

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Olivia’s stick helped her cross the ravine. She is showing me the spiky parts on the bottom that dug into the bank of the ravine.

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“The seed of a dandelion is a little piece of fluff. It dances on the summer breeze and settles in the duff. It seems so small and fragile, but man oh man it’s tough. I love my dandelions, I just can’t get enough!” from Annie Nixon’s song “I Love My Dandelions” which has become a class favorite.

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Alexis, Kinslee, and Ella followed the stream all the way to its source!

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Then they went up the other stream that joins. They found a big piece of metal and a hole in a tree. I think we will have to take the whole class up these streams to explore!

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Olivia wanted to sit by herself in the stream, but Beatrice wanted to play. After I took this picture, Olivia went downstream to find a new place where she could be alone.

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Reuben and Miss Corie were moving rocks so the stream would flow better.

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Jaydon found a curved stick (I think it was a root) that is like a bow and arrow!

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Which one is too small to be a Kindergartner? We also found out she likes to steal fruit from us! Thanks for letting us share Molly, Mrs. Mackenzie!

 

 

June brings roly-polies, buttercups, and black flies

It was a beautiful, warm day in the woods today. We celebrated Ella’s birthday and her whole family came to join us! Owen and Noah, her adorable 16-month old brothers were a big hit. We found more black flies in the woods this time than yet this spring, but Ms. Burns was smart enough to make a fire. It drove them away and no one complained about the smoke!

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Josie’s “G-Ma” Mary / Mrs. Cunningham joined us today in the woods. She was lots of fun and we determined that she in fact DOES like butter.

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The buttercups were out for the first time today! I think we all love butter.

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The trees leaves are still getting bigger. Kinslee reminded me to check Hugh’s tree today– thinking of our friend!

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Aisley’s Forest Plan was to find some acorns. She did and even found one that was sprouting. Also, check out her missing tooth!

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Jaydon in his Sit Spot, but I wasn’t fast enough to get a picture without him noticing me. Check out all the lily of the valley flowers surrounding him.

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A new discovery for us today was a lot of pill bugs (also known as roly-polies). We found them when we looked under logs.

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Laughter in the woods is just the best! You can be as loud and silly as you want. (Kinslee was singing a silly song here, making Mollie and Reuben laugh over and over again.)

The Rainy Woods

A misting rainy day in the woods today, but we were warm with wool socks, raincoats, hats, and mittens. A little rain doesn’t stop these Nature Kids! And it has really helped the plants explode with green and brought out more slugs and worms than we could carry.

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Rain doesn’t stop us from having fun in the woods!

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Big smile from Josie (and check out the Grundens raincoats Olivia and Beatrice are wearing. That was the last of our grant money from the fall.)

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Yup we sure love getting out in the woods.

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“Umm, Malaky, what are you doing?” “Napping on the napping hill, of course!”

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Lunch is harder when it’s raining because we all have to squeeze into the fire circle under the tarp. But the Forest Kids’ lunch manners have improved so much since the beginning of the year and lunch is really a pleasant endeavor these days. Fire thanks to Hugh and Grandpa Frank.

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It was Olivia’s birthday circle today and we were happy to have her mom and grandma join us in the woods. Mom brought her a golden umbrella to match her golden jacket and birthday cape (can you see the rainbow ties around her neck?)

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Mollie and Josie playing on some new logs. They are mermaids!

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We love these new logs. And, “We love Forest Fridays!” 

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Last but certainly not least, today was our celebration of our dear friend Hugh. He is moving tomorrow to live in Florida, and we are going to miss him immensely. Today I think he was too busy playing and hanging out with Grandpa Frank for me to get a picture of him, but this is one of my favorites of him from this year. He is using a baby tree to pull himself out of the snowy ravine. We made a book with memories and wishes for Hugh and gave it to him today. We know he will love all of the snakes, sharks, and shells down in Florida. We love you Hugh!

 

The Green, Green Forest

Another beautiful May day in the woods. So far, the bugs don’t seem too bad where we are. It is amazing how much cooler it is in the shady woods than on that hot playground.

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Kinslee wrote: “I hope to see a worm.” She spelled our snap words right and labeled the worms in her picture.

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Olivia was thinking about her tree, which I told her last time is a cherry tree: “I want to see cherries and a cherry tree.” Her picture clearly matches her words and she stretched out hard words like “cherry.” Got that digraph– “ch”!

On our walk, kids were exclaiming, “There is so much green!” and “It looks like a forest!” Everything is really bursting out in full greenery. Including our trees! Even the ash trees (see Kinslee’s and Alexis’s) that take much longer to leaf out. We had to be patient for those trees.

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Grandpa Frank joined us in the woods and took the kids down to the stream for some mud jumping. Notice how far away he had to stand to not be splashed!

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Kindergarteners can sure get some air! They didn’t seem to mind getting splashed by each other, and they did a great job waiting in line.

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Aisley and Hugh showed that it is possible to climb trees that don’t have branches.

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Henry and Malaky in our climbing pine (they look farther up than they are, I promise).

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Alexis and Ella spent a long time working in their garden. They were planting things like spinach and berries.

Stay tuned for some more writing pieces soon! We are circling back to story writing for the rest of the year, and I’m sure Forest Friday adventures will come up in our writing.

Another Forest Friday in May

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Our walk started out with going by the garden where Mrs. G was working. Earlier this week we planted a pear tree, a variety called sickle pear with especially tiny and sweet fruits. The idea is that by the time these Kindergarteners are in fifth grade, they will be able to eat the fruits from their pear tree! Thank you, Mrs. G for the great idea and helping us do this!

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Our trees leaves are so big! Some kids’ trees have been slow to sprout, but even those ones’ buds are green and swelling now.

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Mollie’s dad, and Carol’s son, John, joined us today in the woods. Of course he fit right in!

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Grandpa Frank has become a regular at Forest Friday! And he always comes prepared with a bucket of firewood, even though we didn’t make a fire today. Hugh especially loves to show him all of his nature discoveries.

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Kinslee with two slugs at her Sit Spot. She found one that she decided must be pregnant based on how fat it looked.

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Jaydon doing some gardening with his hoe in his Sit Spot.

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Josie surfing on the bouncy part of her Sit Spot log.

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Today we ventured down the stream, closer to the wetland than we have ever been. It was so green and smelled so fresh! We found many different kinds of fiddleheads, spiders, and new kinds of plants. Of course, the mud was delicious. Actually it was chocolate milk.

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Could you find a better place to sit down for a chat?

Earth Waking Up

Today in the woods the rain held off. I had put up a tarp over our fire circle just in case, but we didn’t end up needing it. It was chilly and overcast, with some wind. Kids found new leaves and plants sprouting out of the ground in their Sit Spots, heard birds and the wind creaking in the trees, and many more slugs and worms. It is like Earth is really “waking up from her rest” like our May poem says.

These kindergarteners are getting really good at creating (and executing) their Forest Plans! Some examples:

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Reuben did just what his plan said: he worked on the stream with Hugh. Along with Kinslee, they worked to take rocks out of the stream so it would flow better.

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Some of the rocks on the bank that they hauled out of the stream.

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Stream engineers

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Alexis wrote: “I hope I see a snail in the woods.” She knew how many slugs she had found last week, but unfortunately did not find a snail this week.

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Aisley wrote: “I hope to see a paw print.” She used spaces between her words and had to fix up some of the words she knows in a snap, like “to” and “see.” You’ll  have to ask her if she found  a paw print!

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Our trees have huge leaves!

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Aisley’s fiddleheads are growing fast. We found a ton of them all along our hike.

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Olivia made me a bouquet of fiddleheads and “seed flowers” (last year’s ferns).

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We were so happy to get down to our log to play. This is a ship (morphing into a bus). Can’t you tell?

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Bus/ship drivers were in Portland saving a lot of people from the water. And now they are tired so they are taking a nap.

We had a whole slew of visitors today: Reuben’s Grandpa Frank (below) as fire tender (and climbing watcher), Ms. Petteruti and Mrs. Mackenzie the first grade teachers who were interested to learn what we do in the woods, and Kinslee’s mom and dad, Tegan and Brett. It was Kinslee’s birthday circle today and we all packed in under the tarp and celebrated her, despite smoke in our faces. It was so cozy!

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What a great day for a birthday. Can you see the cape Kinslee is wearing?

We’ll have to wait for next time to test out our tarp and fire in the rain!