“Spring Soon” Feeling in February

Today it was cloudy and 40 degrees when we left for the woods. The snow was soft and mushy, and it was still icy in places underneath. The streams were full of slush. We missed our friends Isla and Ian, but still had an excellent Forest Day.  I am impressed by these Kindergarteners ability to dress for the woods, their naturalist skills outside, and their persistence hiking through wet snow wearing snowpants and Grundens. The sun came out in the afternoon as we walked back in, bringing beautiful light to the end of our time together. We sang “Mr. Sun” as we walked back. And we heard the chickadees singing their “Spring Soon!” song as we left the woods!


Paisley’s Forest Plan: “I will see a bird and bird tracks.” Paisley did an excellent job labeling her picture and writing a letter for each word in her sentence.


Avery’s Forest Plan: “I am looking at the woodpecker.” Avery is working hard on keeping her handwriting neat. She drew a lot of details in her pictures, including the woodpecker and the hole it pecked through the tree. She drew moss on the other tree.


Willow’s plan was to find a ladybug. She labeled her picture with the sounds she heard: “Ladybug,” “head,” and “back.”


Charlotte wrote: “I am going to listen for a woodpecker.” She put spaces between her words and learned to spell the word “am.”


Here is Dakota showing his Forest Plan.


Dakota’s Forest Plan: “I am sledding and doing a somersault.” His picture clearly matches his words and he used spaces between his words.


Josie was a First Grade Leader. She played in the woods with us.


We were all hiking to the woods. It is always really long and tiring. But do we give up? No!


Dakota was hanging on his tree in his Sit Spot. He was swinging.


Here is Avery and her mom, Mrs. Johnson. Avery was in her Sit Spot and she was leaning against her mom.


Here is Willow in her Sit Spot. She was laying down with her stick. She was listening for a woodpecker.


This is Ricky, another First Grade Leader. He was eating his sandwich by the fire.


These two girls were looking up in the tree at something. They thought it was a beehive.


These are turkey tracks. We can tell because they have three parts.


Paisley and Ainsley were rolling down the hill and having fun. Henry and Gregory did it later and he ran and kept on slipping down.


These are woodpecker holes. They were looking for bugs in the tree to eat.


Henry, Gregory, and Dakota were playing rescue deer on top of the roots. If an animal tries to kill a deer, the deer rescue team would shoot the bad animal. And then the team would go get the deer to rescue it.


Gregory was climbing.


Willow is doing some math work with snowballs. We are working on subtraction. We took apart a group of snowballs. Willow took apart 5 to make 2 and 3.


Dakota took apart 5 to make 2 and 2 and 1.


Avery was climbing on the big pine and she was way on top of the branch. She felt a little bit scared but she liked it. She was standing up straight with no arms holding on.


Soggy Mittens Day

Wow! What a beautiful, but soggy day out in the woods today. It was 40 degrees outside our classroom when we got dressed at 10am, but by the end of our time at 2pm it was 32 outside. It was icy in places, slushy in others. And water was on the move, in the little streams and in the big wetland / “river.” We went through ALL the mittens we brought out (~ 2 pairs per Kindergartener) and were sure glad to have those Grundens on. We had lots of sloshy boots and wet wool socks that did their job of keeping toes warm enough to keep playing.

Mr. Frank tended our fire and Aisley and Emma joined us as First Grade Leaders.

A highlight of our day was that the birdfeeder had many visitors. Chickadees and titmice at least. Isaiah spent a long time watching them and talking to them in their own language: “Chickadee, chickadee-dee-dee!”



Henry’s plan: “I see a deer.” He labeled his picture and used color to make it look realisitc.


Isla’s plan: “I am going to play bear cave.” We learned this morning that black bears are giving birth to their cubs in early February.


Ainsley is reading her writing: “We will find the wooly bear together and we are going to play in the snow.” She has clear spaces between her words.




Willow’s picture shows all the things she is going to do in the woods. You can see deer tracks on the left side with labels, the fire area, and a squirrel. She labeled her picture and included a lot of detail.


Gregory’s plan: “I am going to find a real deer.” He labeled “water,” “deer,” and “me.” He is working on spelling snap words right like “to” and “a.”


Aisley and Paisley found some deer scat.


Here is the deer scat. It is shaped like ovals, little beans or eggs.


This is Ian with the river (wetland) in the background. The ice has melted. The water was flowing pretty fast. And at Avery’s Sit Spot she heard the water rushing.


The First Grade Leaders were helping work on the tent (fort) some more. The sticks were falling off.


Ian, Gregory, Henry, and Willow were discovering what the water was doing.


Henry was helping a friend here. She had wet mittens so he gave her a pair of his extra ones.


Willow found a mushroom. She found it down on the hill where a tree was knocked down. She picked it off. It was dry.


Paisley was climbing on the tree that was knocked down. She was hanging from it.


Avery was kneeling on the high part of the tree. A little while later, Henry was behind her and he was standing on a stick that broke. Then Avery fell down a little ways. It was scary and she got a little bit hurt. She cried a little.


Here is everyone climbing on the big pine.


Today Ainsley fell on the ice in the woods and hit her eyebrow. It was a drag and it hurt a lot. But here she was climbing and feeling good!

Exploring Far and Wide

We went out for a shorter Forest Day today, and it felt too short! But the crusty snow and hard ice on the wetland meant we were able to explore much farther than usual down the wetland. Mr. Frank came out and tended our fire and Avery’s mom, Mrs. Johnson, also came out to help. It was about 25 degrees in the woods, overcast, and very still. We heard a far-off crow, chickadees, and nuthatches. After a few weeks away from the woods, everyone was very glad to be back!


We saw lots of deer tracks today. 


Avery and Dakota playing hockey on the frozen wetland. They used a piece of ice for a puck.


We climbed on a big pine that fell in our October storm. It was hard to climb with all the needles everywhere.


Here is the big downed pine.


Dakota found a hold in the ice and made big enough for him to sit in.


Isaiah was practicing his karate chopping.


Willow and Ainsley found a wooly bear caterpillar. It was all curled up and sleeping.


They made a house for it under a piece of bark in Willow’s sit spot.


The wooly bear in its house.


Paisley! She got stuck in the climbing tree and her boot fell off. It was scary, but Mr. Frank and Mrs. Johnson helped her get out! 


Henry in first grade was one of our Forest Leaders. He showed a lot of caring when he helped Isla find her ice gripper. Here he is climbing down underneath the pine tree.


Many kids went down to the marsh to slide and explore. It was so fun to go somewhere we had never been before!


Isaiah in his sit spot. 


We found a ton of places where squirrels had eaten pine cones. Here is a big pile!


Henry kept falling off the log in his sit spot (on purpose)!


Ian in his sit spot.


Avery’s Forest Journal: “We were playing hockey with hockey sticks.” Avery put spaces between her words and labeled her picture. She spelled snap words right like “we.”


Olivia drew a picture of her skating on the ice. She has been working all year on writing her name and now she  can do it! 

Such a Cold Day

We had a very cold day in the woods. It was 20 degrees in the woods, but it felt colder. (Because of the humidity and snow that melted with our body heat.) When we did calendar, we saw that it was warmer than our last day of school. It was Dakota’s birthday circle, so he went around the circle and then we ate cupcakes. Our fire tenders were Mr. Frank and Miss Anita. The First Grade Forest Leaders were Emily and Mollie. They played baby and family and climbed a lot.


We had to warm our hands by the fire today because it was so cold.  Dakota’s hands were cold because his mittens got really wet. There was some ice on them. Paisley is kneeling on a snowshoe to stay off the snow. The snow is cold! Mr. Frank was one of our fire tenders this week.


Avery, Isla, and Ms. Atkins were pretending to be rescue tigers. We were rescuing Paisley.


Here Olivia is saying “Cheese!” (and “Pickles!”)


Ainsley told us today that she lost her front tooth!


The snow today was so deep that we kept falling over and getting stuck. It was hard to walk. When we fell, we got back up. Sometimes we bumped into each other too. One time, Charlotte’s boot got stuck in the snow. To get it out we had to dig.


We followed the path of the adults. They had snowshoes on that were so big. It was so easy to walk on the snowshoe trail. If you stepped into the deep snow, you would fall over.

I was so impressed with the persistence of these Kindergartners today. It was one of the hardest days yet, what with the deep snow and temps just warm enough to melt snow around your mittens and form that frustrating and freezing cold ice. We learned about sticking it out when it gets tough, and had some good times in spite of it! Not many pictures, because the photographer was quite busy warming up cold hands and feet 🙂 But here are two Forest Journals that kids made when we got inside:


Ainsley wrote: “I did what I wrote about.” This is true– in her plan she wrote that she wanted to check the bird feeder and climb on a snow pile. You can see that her picture matches her words and she has spaces between her words! 


Charlotte wrote, “I played with Willow.” You can see that she also has spaces between her words and she even put a period at the end of her sentence. She also remembered to label her picture (on the right it says “sky”)!

Henry’s Birthday Circle in the Snow

What a beautiful day in the snow! It is a treat to have lightly falling snow and no wind. Today the snow was not very deep. But it was very cold in the woods: 17 degrees. It was cloudy and snowing. You could see the sun a little while we were hiking. It was still and not windy.  Some of us were a little cold.

Amiah and Ella were our First Grader Leaders. Henry’s dad also came to the woods with us.

We had a wonderful time, and a fire, out in the woods!


Paisley’s plan was to gather sticks to make a fire. She labeled her drawing with the beginning sound for each word: “Sun,” “tree,” “fire,” and “sticks.” And she labeled herself with the snap word “me”!


Isla’s wanted to do a lot of things in the woods. She drew all the actions (and you can see the action marks) and labeled them: “Running,” “climbing,” and “jumping.”


Henry’s plan was to pretend to go turkey hunting. Here he is with his gun. He labeled “turkey” and Gregory is on the other side with his gun. 


We had a fire. Henry’s dad, Mr. Heal, made it for us. Henry and Gregory helped break up the sticks. They put them on a stump and then stepped on them so they would break. 


Paisley and Ian, down by the wetland.


Willow and Ian were hiking up the hill. They got really tired. It’s hard work to get up the hill!


One of our first grade Leaders was Amiah. She found a comfortable seat on a downed tree.


Ella and Dakota were sliding on their bellies on the ice. Dakota was also licking the ice. Ella said the ice was like a window and she could see pine needles underneath.


Dakota was shaking the tree branch to make it snow.


One of our first grade Leaders was Ella. She was playing Fox and Mice (or Rabbits) with some Kindergarteners. Ella was being the Fox and then Isla, Ian, and Isaiah were running away so they wouldn’t get tagged.


We were having cupcakes. We had them because it was Henry’s Birthday Circle. Everybody got their lips and faces different colors because of the frosting.


Paisley and Ainsley were walking together. Ainsley was trying to make Paisley feel better.

The Snowy Adventure

This was our first real snowy day in the woods! The second day with snow, as Dakota and Avery reminded us. The weather was cloudy at first, but then the sun came out. It was 34 degrees in the woods.

One of the most exciting things about today was the sheer number of tracks we found. Deer tracks were everywhere! We learned that they are shaped kind of like a heart and they have two toes.


Willow was playing spider and looking through a window.


Gregory was trying to shoot deer. 


Avery was making ice water for Gregory and Henry to drink when they got back from hunting. They were going to watch a movie. 


Avery is making the ice drink and Gregory and Henry are hunting.


Willow and Ian were playing spiders. Willow was the mom and Ian was the baby. 


Isla found a hole in the side of the stream and thought it was spiderwebs. On closer look it was ice crystals!


Isla was shaking a little tree to make it snow!


Willow and Ian found a place where a squirrel ate the seeds from a pine cone. There was also a hole where the squirrel might have gone in.


Dakota and Henry were making their snowman.


Paisley was trying to make a pillow on the tree so she could lay down in her Sit Spot.


This is Calliope and Beatrice. They were our first grade forest leaders. They were in their Sit Spots.


Dakota was making a ball for a snowman. It was huge when Gregory, Avery, and Henry helped to roll it up the hill.


Willow the hat she’d lost last week. It was frozen like a popsicle!



Ainsley was trying to pull up sticks in her Sit Spot. She learned about how you can tell dead branches from live ones. Live ones are hard to break and they have a little bit of green inside! 


Ian jumping across the ravine at his Sit Spot.


Gregory found deer scat on the trail of deer tracks we found!


Learning More about Fire and Climbing on Roots!

We had a great day in the woods today. The weather was sunny and chilly. It was 34 degrees. It was not that windy, so we could have a fire. We had a lot of guests in the woods. We are starting to have First Grade Forest Leaders from Mrs. Dwyer’s and Mrs. Mackenzie’s classes. Mr. Frank was our fire tender. And Ian’s parents and his baby brother Rowan came for his birthday circle.


Isaiah had a hook stick.


On our hike, Isaiah took a shortcut through a lot of brush.


During Sit Spots, Dakota was cutting the skin of his tree and found sap. We all tried poking the little bubbles to get sap out. We smelled it and Ms. Atkins said it was a balsam fir and it smelled like Christmas. Some of us even tasted it! It was bitter and strong.


Avery was poking the tree to get the sap out for the fire.


Isla was trying to climb to the top. Henry was yelling to his pretend squirrel pets, “Open up the door!” They were under the roots. They weren’t listening.


Sometimes you just gotta lie down in the woods and kick a bouncy tree.


Isla in the woods!


Avery, Henry, and Gregory discovered that you can climb to the top of the roots on the downed tree. They climbed up really high. Then other kids joined them. They were trying to cut the roots off.


Ian was being a tarantula that had poison (even though real tarantulas don’t!). Avery was the zookeeper. She was pretending the ferns were flies to feed to him.



Dakota was playing on the big log and breaking off a stick with one hand.


Paisley was sitting with Mr. Frank and eating her lunch.


Gabby and Alexis were our First Grades Forest Leaders. They were climbing a tree together. Gabby said this was her first time climbing a tree!

Forest Books!

We have started an important part of our Forest Monday routine: Forest Plans and Journals. They go together to make a Forest Book, which will have each student’s plans and journal pages for the whole year. Before we go out, each student makes a plan for what they want to do, find, or play in the woods. After we return, they write a journal page about what they actually did. Sometimes they did their plan, sometimes they didn’t!

In our plans and journals, we are working on drawing clear pictures that show details, adding labels, and writing the date. Many kids are also starting to try and write sentences too.


Isla’s plan was to “climb on the fort.” 


This is Isla’s journal. She and Charlotte did climb on it, and Mrs. Johnson (Avery’s mom) told her to stop because it might break! 


Gregory’s plan was to play Nexo Knights. He wrote it up the side, so I helped him make it easier for other people to read.


In his journal, Gregory wrote about the most significant part of his Forest Monday: That he and Henry chopped up a huge semi-rotten log and pulled all the branches off it!


Ainsley’s plan was to lie on the big log.


In fact she played in the fort, where there were pine needles.


Charlotte wanted to climb in the tent (fort).


Though she played in the fort for a long time with Isla and Willow, she chose to journal about her Sit Spot. It is next to Paisley’s. 


Isaiah also wanted to play Nexo Knights with his friends including Paisley.


In his journal, Isaiah wrote about the big log where everyone played. 

After the Storm

After missing school for a week we were so glad to be back in our woods. It was our first rainy Forest Monday, but that didn’t stop us from immersing ourselves in the mud, pine needles, and leaves. Now that it is hunting season, we are all wearing our blaze orange.


Playing “Sleeping Hare” in preparation for Sit Spots. If you stay still, the coyote won’t find you!


Isla really looks like she is sleeping!


This was one of the newly downed trees from the storm. It takes a looooong time to climb all the way along it. We found lots of places where squirrels had left the remains of their pine cone meals. They leave little piles of the pine scales.


Some kids discovered that the tree had fallen right over the stream. They found water flowing underneath all the branches.

Our Fort Book

Check out the book we wrote about the fort we made last week. Avery’s mom, Mrs. Johnson, came out to the woods with us and was a big help. We missed Forest Monday this week, but are looking forward to getting out there next week!

In writing workshop we have been working hard at writing true stories and teaching books since school started. Here are the steps we took to write this true story, and all the ones we write on our own:

  1. Think of something that happened or something we did
  2. Practice telling it like a storyteller
  3. Draw pictures with details
  4. Add labels
  5. Write a sentence that tells the story (we do that as a class, but we’re not there on our own yet)

And of course…. #6: Read it over and over again. We are writers!