Looking back: photos from the past two weeks

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Platon, William and Nicholas started collecting chestnuts during free play. When they stopped to count them with Heidi and realized they had already gathered 80, it quickly became a quest to reach 100. As they continued to gather and count, the other children in the class became intrigued, and soon half of the class was hunting for chestnuts, with a new goal of collecting 200!

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Zoya and Anderson use their imagination to create delicious, “Cake and Brussel sprout,” meals out of chestnuts, twigs, leaves and grass. Heidi observed the play, and wondered if the shape of the chestnuts influenced the decision to pretend that they were Brussels sprouts?

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Where there’s a will, there’s a way: one puddle? No problem! All the children seemed to agree on sharing this puddle without any adult intervention.

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Tree painting with water – the impermanence of the water marks doesn’t seem to matter!  We wonder what is appealing about this activity:  the water marks that disappear? the novelty of materials, including the act of painting on trees, rather than the usual paper? Partly, we think, but we also wonder if the act of transforming the physical appearance of the tree trunk offers the children a sense of empowerment? What other opportunities can we find to support their sense of self as powerful and transformative?

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Erika is particularly focused – developing not only her core strength while balancing on the uneven terrain, but also her hand/eye coordination as she dips the brush into the narrow container.

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The interest in water painting continued, this time at the Healing Garden.

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The term ‘loose parts’ refers to any material in an environment that is transportable and transformable, and therefore supportive of imaginative and open-ended exploration. Here, Zoe’s two-dimensional work using small shapes on a mat supports her development of numeracy and pattern.

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Offered the same loose parts as Zoe, Ibrahim selected just the corks and tiny tree cookies, then carefully balanced them one on top of another. I am curious about his interest in building upwards, and make a mental note to invite Ibrahim to explore more work with blocks.

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Zoya enjoys being close to Ibrahim, so she uses the remaining pieces at the table to create her own design.

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Dollar store measuring tapes offer a simple way to introduce ‘math’ vocabulary: numbers, of course, but also concepts of orientation (up/down/around); estimation; and comparison.

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Many children are curious about the whistles, watches, and walkie-talkies we have hanging from our teacher backpacks, so we introduced the Owls class to some “tools for explorers”: carbiners, swivel hooks, pulleys and flashlights. Vino proudly shows us his connections!

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Mason and Zoe began tracing the lines of this carved stone bench, then Yohan joined alongside them. This is an activity that Mason and Zoe did many times together last year in our small group work to teach the concept of ‘intersections’. Learning to stop and wait at pathway intersections is one of our safety habits.

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We were so excited and honoured to have Ellen Sandsetter,from Norway, join us for a typical morning at TNNS. Ellen has researched and written extensively on the subject of risky play in Early Childhood.

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Ellen’s colleagues, Ole and Rune, crouch down to the children’s height, exploring sticks, the ditch, and tall grasses in one of our favourite areas, “Stormbreaker”. We have names for several specific sites around the park, all offered by the children and collectively accepted over time.

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Tyler exclaimed at finding grass in the shape of a letter “L” …… “L for Ludwig!”

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Shantelle noticed that children are often fascinated by the twisting motion on glue sticks, so she offered a provocation of nuts and bolts to fiddle with – a great opportunity for strengthening little fingers for future writing!

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Heidi gets cosy with cushions and a little crowd in the Cottage for some comfortable reading together. (This week I shared Sesame Street memories of Cookie Monster and the cookie song; this slide is brought to you by the Letter “C”).

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Spending some time inside the Cottage offers opportunities that may not occur when we are outside.  Kingston settled for some time at dressing and wrapping these dolls. I was curious, because I hadn’t noticed Kingston noticing dolls before. Is this an interest of his that I have overlooked? I make a mental note to check in with other staff for their observations so that we are mindful to offer Kingston, and the class, these quiet and nurturing moments, as well as active outdoor play.

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We recently welcomed Jess, a school teacher from Ontario, who has joined us as a volunteer on Thursday mornings. She gives our youngest member a little boost from walking on tired legs.

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Rain and mud and multiple layers of clothing don’t get in the way of offering snuggles at Nature School!

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When the Eagles class discovered we had packed string on the wagon, they immediately went to work devising a pulling system! Two wagons, eight children a-piece pulling…. why didn’t we think of this sooner?!

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For privacy, we don’t post photos of our big buddies, but this buddy has an inside connection: here Grayson (Kate’s son) and Frazer harvest radishes together. Our Quilchena buddies will be back for another visit next Friday with the Eagles; buddies from Thompson school will meet the Owls next Thursday.

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Justine and Darel admire our homegrown pumpkins.

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Yi Teng’s expression perfectly captures both his delight and discomfort while scooping the insides of this pumpkin!

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Our pumpkins grew so successfully this year that every class – including Beyond 4 Walls and Parent & Tot classes – have had an opportunity to harvest one from the garden for carving!

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Charcoal can be a messy art material, but it is so exciting to work with as a tool for mark making! Hayden has discovered that charcoal transfers well from skin to paper, creating some great handprints and smudging! I wonder about connecting this exploration with Hayden’s experiences of family camping trips, perhaps by giving him some of our ‘homemade’ charcoal from a campfire?

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Using silk scarves to add movement to our song: “Autumn leaves are falling down, falling down, falling down. Autumn leaves are falling down…. red, orange, yellow and brown”. (To the tune of ‘London Bridge’)

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Avery has the option of two colour palettes and two materials: chalks in black, grays, and white; and oil pastels in the autumnal shades we have noticed on trees, grasses and berries throughout the park.

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Noticing and safely cleaning up garbage is one of our ‘good citizen’ habits and a great opportunity for turn taking, but the reward is successfully using the tongs!

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Emily has been teaching both classes the song “This Land is Your Land”, adding a verse at a time. We sing a lot at Nature School!