We have entered a freeze-thaw cycle in our forests, which has added even more wonder and excitement to our days outdoors. On a recent morning, a child tossed a stick into the pond…and to our surprise and delight the stick did not splash into the water—instead, it skittered and skated along the newly frozen surface. Instead of announcing that the pond had frozen, we asked the children what they thought had changed. We threw some more sticks to watch them glide. What an interesting sound they made on their way over the ice!
Later that day, the children requested a trip to the other side of the pond to visit the crawdads. Nets in hand, they crept to the edge and discovered that the water was completely solid! What a great opportunity to think about what the crawdads, water boatmen (insects that look like submarines with oars), and minnows do when the ponds freeze. We have found that children would rather investigate such a question on their own rather than us telling them the answers, so we will continue to feed their curiosity about our amazing wetland.
We are greeted in the mornings by a variety of animal tracks in the snow and mud. Now we know that a magpie has been in our tipi…its little footprints were evidence that it has been cleaning up the crumbs from our lunches and snacks!
Geese have been flying overhead, and the children love to pause and listen to their cheerful-sounding honking and look for the v-shaped flight patterns. Some questions we have heard from the children are “how do geese know where they are going?” and “what are they saying to each other?” At our school, one of our many goals is the development of empathy between the children and nature, and watching the geese congregate for “meetings” and hearing their raucous conversations seems to remind the kids how much we have in common with these creatures.
We continue to see the children engaged largely in dramatic play and in construction projects. They especially enjoy transforming into their favorite animals and emulating the special skills that their particular animal possesses, and building dens. We are choosing books to read to the kids that are based around these interests.
The children have been honing and refining some of their building skills. Recently, the children discovered that they could reinforce a wall for a cabin they have been building by hammering sticks into the ground. This skill was taught from child to child, and each child brought a new set of ideas to the concept.
Thank you all for the wonderful conversations we had during our parent-teacher conferences. We all reflected on how much we enjoyed ourselves. We truly have an amazing community.