Solstice and New Year

Happy winter, forest families! Although it has felt wintery for a while at our forest, it is now official. Thanks to the short winter days, we were able to enjoy a lovely Solstice campfire to ring in the new season.

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The children have returned to the forest after their winter break, and it has been a happy reunion between children and the land that they've grown to know so well. The kids have started to name parts of the forest: so far we’ve heard The Bouncy Log, Tickly Sticks (twigs that grow up in the middle of the path to the cow shed), Rabbit Bushes, and Wolf Den. This familiarity with the land is one of the goals of our program. We believe that a strong connection to a natural environment close to home builds a foundation for a lifetime of conservation as well as an understanding of the interconnectedness of life.

We’ve also welcomed some new friends to the forest. The ample free-play that our program provides has allowed our new friends to integrate quickly.

A coyote howling on the Log Pile, a favorite spot for dramatic play. The kids have learned to howl to each other when they are looking for friends in the forest.

A coyote howling on the Log Pile, a favorite spot for dramatic play. The kids have learned to howl to each other when they are looking for friends in the forest.

The children have been engaging in oodles of dramatic play, and it is clear they look forward to this activity very much by the way they begin to negotiate roles as soon as they arrive! The teachers have enjoyed listening to the amazing adventures as they unfold throughout our days. It is especially fun to retell the children’s adventure in story form during breaks. Sneaky teacher fact: dramatic play is storytelling with built-in comprehension—it lays a vital foundation for reading a writing as well as social skills and language development. The benefits are truly amazing!

This group is pretending to be on a space odyssey filled with foibles—first they left a polar bear in space and had to go back for him, then a similar scenario happened with a penguin! When they finally got their antipodal zoo situated to head back to Earth, their space ship was suddenly infested with earthworms and snakes.

This group is pretending to be on a space odyssey filled with foibles—first they left a polar bear in space and had to go back for him, then a similar scenario happened with a penguin! When they finally got their antipodal zoo situated to head back to Earth, their space ship was suddenly infested with earthworms and snakes.

The children spend part of a morning “fishing” by catching clumps of grass with  sticks. They arranged a pantry of salmon in their den, as seen here in the buckets, but those sneaky predators kept coming to eat their cache and upset their neat pantry. Afterward, a great chase would ensue.

The children spend part of a morning “fishing” by catching clumps of grass with sticks. They arranged a pantry of salmon in their den, as seen here in the buckets, but those sneaky predators kept coming to eat their cache and upset their neat pantry. Afterward, a great chase would ensue.

A dog in a tree? Who knew dogs were such adept climbers! Tree-climbing gives this three-year-old plenty of confidence and a special place to call his own.

A dog in a tree? Who knew dogs were such adept climbers! Tree-climbing gives this three-year-old plenty of confidence and a special place to call his own.

You’d never guess these friends have an age difference—they have become very close over the weeks in the forest.

You’d never guess these friends have an age difference—they have become very close over the weeks in the forest.

Other highlights this week include: trying to use our hand drill to bore through the ice on the pond, making letters of our names with the burdock seeds (nicknamed Prickle Pets by the Wee Folk), repairing the Wolf Den that got a bit mangled during the Winter Break Camp, learning how to find or create a wind break, storytelling, and more. We are so happy to have the winter ahead of us to share!