Firstly, a BIG welcome to our new students and their families this semester – Forest School is booming and we are so happy to have a growing community. Also, a BIG welcome back to our students from the Fall, and of course our courageous Winter semester crew! We’re in for a good season this Spring.
We started off our days learning how to set up tents (which were especially needed on Tues and Thurs with the rainy weather!) then continued like most days at Forest School – Free Play, Smudge and Check-ins. Afterwards we ventured off for an extended amount of time in our Sit Spots (if you don’t know what this is yet, follow this link to our Core Routines page). New students were on the hunt for a space to call their own and become stewards of for the next few months, while returning students added their personal touches to theirs: a new balance beam in one, a shelter in another, a wall in one more – anything to make it their own… even some fairy gardens! The students could’ve (and would’ve!) spent all day there.
Over the past few weeks, the classes have really been putting in time at our fire pit. We now have an incredible tree fort, a natural shelter, a storefront and a revitalized fire ring. As our goal this week was to learn new outdoor skills, what better place to spend most of the day? Our goal? To create a fire without a match or lighter.
On Tuesday, after a Fire Safety lesson, students eagerly got busy with different jobs – collecting wood, getting the fire ready, fetching water, making “nests” and setting up our ignition station. Students then jumped at the chance to try out our magnesium and steel. With charcloth in place and a nest nearby, we were ready to go. And we did it!!! Our very first “fire keeper” is a long-time Painted Turtle, the very first student in FS Forest School History to make a fire without a match… and he did it in the rain!
Wednesday was much the same, though we had much better weather and even more students were able to get their nests blazing without a match. Alas, we tried our best with the Bow Drill and came up just shy – at least we have a new goal for later in the spring (flint and steel proved quite difficult as well, but just another thing to look forward to!).
The afternoon was spent in different ways on these two days. After exploratory play time, most student wanted to spend more time in their sit spots, or showing them off to others. We found out that tree sap (this was from a pine) can act like a torch and burn really well and long on the end of a stick. We also opened up the knife throwing pit on Wednesday for the Snowy Owls, which was a ton of (highly supervised!) fun. To finish off the day, the classes learned about the key components of a camp stove, how it’s put together and how to use it. And we made some cider/tea.
Thursday saw some of the craziest weather to date at Forest School. This put a kink in our fire plans, but not in our spirits! After an epic hike to Maple Forest, with some inevitable stops along the way (including finding 5 FROGS!), we were soaked and muddy! The students did a great job at keeping warm and layering up, so we made a fire, had some tea and roasted some marshmallows to celebrate our resilience. What unreal winter-like weather, and a great reminder that “April Showers” can be brutal – please remember to send extra clothes with you child or you can leave a labelled set at the school.
The classes also brainstormed, voted on and came up with 3 new beads (one per class). Allow us to introduce the student-created:
Sit Spot Bead – earned by taking good care of your sit spot, spending quiet time reflecting in it, doing assigned tasks and making it your own.
Fisherperson Bead – earned by demonstrating new knowledge with fishing… bonus if you catch a fish.
Explorer Bead – earned by exploring somewhere new and stepping outside of your comfort zone.
And by popular demand from all three classes: Fire Keeper – creating and maintaining a fire without a match or lighter. (We have a few to give out next week!)
We will send home a fully updated bead list next week. Congrats to our bead recipients this week! 2 Fire beads, 1 teaching bead for a great lesson on Great White Sharks, and 1 Show and Tell bead.
All about animals!
Kim, Krista and Matt