Mid-November

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!

Time for some ice-safety education! The kids learned that you must never step onto an icy body of water. They sat on the shore and felt how slippery the ice was with their boots. Having the chance to experience the ice will help them understand the hazard.

Time for some ice-safety education! The kids learned that you must never step onto an icy body of water. They sat on the shore and felt how slippery the ice was with their boots. Having the chance to experience the ice will help them understand the hazard.



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.


Chipping away at the ice on the road with a favorite (and highly versatile) forest tool.

Chipping away at the ice on the road with a favorite (and highly versatile) forest tool.

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!


Pointing out the magpie tracks leading into the tipi.

Pointing out the magpie tracks leading into the tipi.

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.

The children laughed and laughed as they slid like penguins. Most of the children spend a good portion of their time pretending to be various animals.

The children laughed and laughed as they slid like penguins. Most of the children spend a good portion of their time pretending to be various animals.

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.


Reading about where animals go in winter and what types of dens they use.

Reading about where animals go in winter and what types of dens they use.

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.

One of our builders trying out the newly discovered peg system for adding to the cabin, which now consists of two bedrooms, a living room, a woodpile and outdoor kitchen, as well as a pantry.

One of our builders trying out the newly discovered peg system for adding to the cabin, which now consists of two bedrooms, a living room, a woodpile and outdoor kitchen, as well as a pantry.

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.

“We are two papas carrying a bench!”

“We are two papas carrying a bench!”

Tinkering with whittling and the hand crank drill.

Tinkering with whittling and the hand crank drill.

Such joy! Sledding is not only fun and great exercise, but it also builds kids’ group communication skills, resilience, and invites creativity.

Such joy! Sledding is not only fun and great exercise, but it also builds kids’ group communication skills, resilience, and invites creativity.