Belonging: Sharing Knowledge and Skills with Peers

Children on HillDuring our last visit to the forest the toddler and kindergarten groups joined together for the morning. For some of the toddlers this was their first time in the forest and for others it was a familiar occurrence. Maija, who has been attending KOLTS Forest and Nature School (FNS) for two years, has become quite familiar with our FNS space and has grown confident in her abilities and understanding of the land. She was quick to support the younger children as she provided them with strategies to climb and descend the hill not only safely and successfully but also independently.
During the time at the hill it was clear that both M and A wanted to find a way to get up the hill and down the hill and Maija was quick to point out that the right side of the hill is easy to climb up because there are “stairs”, as she pointed to the roots coming out of the ground. Then when it was time to come down the hill Maija pointed out that the other side of the hill was good to go down on their bottoms because it was “smooth” and there were not any “bumps”. She taught M how to slide down on her bottom instead of trying to walk down the hill. Soon A noticed their strategies and adopted them as well. As documented in the photograph above Maija verbally coached the children how to get down the hill on their own.
One of the values of having children engage in place-based learning is that with regular and repeated visits to our FNS site that the children come to learn about the land and build a vast knowledge about their bodies and what they can do. In addition to building a relationship with the land the children also form strong relationship with their peers. As discussed in the document How Does Learning Happen? (2014), “as children engage in various forms of social play and are supported to recognize the varied capabilities and characteristics of other children, they learn to get along with others; to negotiate, collaborate, and communicate; and to care for others” (p. 24).

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Mud, Slugs, and Flashlights

Today in forest school the children were exploring a lot of different things; mud, bugs, structures made from branches as well as trying out new pathways through the shrubs. While the rest of the group ventured off ahead for a walk through the forest, one child I was walking with decided to turn around and head back towards our main Forest and Nature School (FNS) site. On our way back through the muddy path, which is one of this child’s favourite places to stop and squish her boots in, this child noticed a slug. Continue reading “Mud, Slugs, and Flashlights”

Martina Takes a Closer Look at the Forest

“The ability to know a place intimately and to return to a natural space again and again, provides children with familiarity while honing their ability to recognize and understand processes of change” (Forest and Nature School in Canada, 2014, p.30-31).

Child picking bark off of a fallen log

Today I observed as Martina explored the logs closely; taking the time to stop and kneel to look inside the hole in the log and touch the pieces of bark clinging ever so slightly to the fallen log. As she felt around the surface of the log with her fingers a piece of bark came loose. Surprised at what happened Martina felt around the log some more and pulled off another loose piece of bark. Under this piece of bark was a tiny bug. She got very close and using her tiny fingers she picked up the bug and looked at it closely, sharing her discovery with me. Continue reading “Martina Takes a Closer Look at the Forest”

Honouring our land

Today representatives from First peoples@Seneca brought an energy to the forest that was full of emotional understanding. Blu (First peoples@Seneca’s resident Elder) described the value of the Tree Nation to people, animals, creatures and the land itself. The connectedness of the earth’s role in our lives is due to the historic care the land has received by the indigenous people, and we are privileged to use this land.

FullSizeRender“This land is the traditional territory of the Mississaugas of the New Credit [and the Williams Treaty] First Nations. We are guests on this space, and it is our shared obligation to respect, honour, and sustain this land” – First Peoples@Seneca

The children listened intently, responding to posed questions about what they knew about land they have come to know so intimately during our Forest and Nature School program. Parents, educators, and the greater Seneca Community united to connect with the world that surrounds us that we so often neglect by not acknowledging its contribution to our lives. Caught up in the everyday mandate we forget to give thanks to the landscape that surrounds us and fills us with the energy we need to move freely in the world.

Thank you Blu for taking the time to teach us gratitude to the Tree Nation and identifying a grandmother and grandfather tree so that we can invite the youngest of our population to grow while honouring and respecting the world that nourishes their bodies and minds. We brought offerings to the trees from the garden we have been caring for with the support of TD Friends of the Environment and Black Forest Garden Centre. Our Partner Lab School at Seneca Newnham also provided an offering harvested from their garden and recently planted medicine garden.

Gabe began drumming and Pilar danced along side her. As she played her instrument you could hear the echo of the drum bounce off the trees illuminating the area with such power yet gently embracing the forest landscape.  The children delighted in the sounds and were invited to participate in a dance of celebration. The sense of belonging to a greater community filled my heart and I closed my eyes in appreciation of the diversity of energy this magical moment had to offer.

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I am grateful to have been part of this partnership towards Reconciliation. Today was a small step towards understanding, compassion and the willingness of a community to gather and honour the land that we are simply visiting.

Garden to Table

 

The JK/SK children have been attending to, nurturing and documenting the growing of these tiny seeds for about four weeks. Today we transplanted our plants to the outdoor garden bed. Together the children and educators determined the location of the plants as well as the space required between them. Continue reading “Garden to Table”

The Mystery of the Hole in the Ground Continued

Tool Use to Further Support the Children’s Inquiry

Upon returning to our Forest and Nature School (FNS) site I offered to the children the option of using flashlights and magnifying glasses to further their exploration of the hole in the ground that they were all so curious about during our last visit to the forest. Today two children who just moved into the toddler room joined us and they were just as eager as their peers to start exploring the forest. Continue reading “The Mystery of the Hole in the Ground Continued”

The Mystery of the Hole in the Ground

What Happened?

Today in the forest the children were all very busy exploring everything in our Forest and Nature School (FNS) site. It had been a while since the children were last out here in this spot. J, while busy exploring many different areas and elevations of the forest, was the first to discover this mysterious hole in the ground. He leaned over at first to look inside it and then looked up at me to see what I thought. I broadcasted how he found a hole in the ground and how I wondered where it came from. Continue reading “The Mystery of the Hole in the Ground”

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