Finding Balance

A theme of ‘finding balance’ has emerged for me as I look through photographs from last week (and a few from the week before that I just couldn’t leave out!).  Throughout a school day, every educator faces numerous choices as we observe, scaffold, direct and re-direct the children in their behaviours and activities.  What are the benefits and potential risks of climbing trees, jumping ditches, wielding sticks? How do we encourage social interactions and a sense of community, yet respect individual needs for independence, quiet time, and privacy?  How much do we involve ourselves with the children’s dramatic play, and when, as the adult, are we interrupting?  Shall we teach a new skill, or allow more opportunity for inventing and problem solving?  And, not least for this program, how much time do we spend outside and inside, either embracing the rain and wind, or seeking shelter?  Lately our team has also been discussing equipment (are the children relying too much on the gear we bring with us?); and our impact on the land (how much to pick, and how much to leave for the birds, animals, and other visitors to the park?)

In the winter months we also have to find consider how to offer a balance of fine and gross motor play outdoors.  How, when hands are in mittens, can we  provide sensory, tactile experiences – the equivalent of water and sand tables often found in an indoor setting? Fortunately we have been blessed with a particularly mild November this year, so we have been able to play comfortably – and messily! – with abundant puddles, play dough, and mud!

I hope you enjoy these images of ‘balance’ and our amazing Nature School children,

With joy, Kate

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“One Great Blue Heron, standing on a shed, standing on a shed, standing on a shed….”  You may have heard your child singing a version of this song lately.

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Emily began teaching yoga moves to the Eagles, starting fittingly with tree, mountain, and bird poses!

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Misuzu has the Owls class wondering “how many children can fit inside the circle?”

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Another small group experience: frequently the children have choice about what to draw, and other times we direct their attention to something specific in the landscape.

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What, if anything, should we bring on the wagons?

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Using rope and pegs in a small group takes a lot of communication and self-regulation.

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Erika and Justine have become close friends – picking just one photo of this delightful interaction was hard!

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Sharing materials requires an assertive voice and a willingness to compromise.

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Although garden implements are typically used only for their true purpose, I stepped back to observe Darel and Tyler C experiment with turning the wagon and rake into a machine.

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Passers-by were either captivated or aghast to see children literally rolling in the mud. William was clearly enjoying himself, and became even muddier before we headed back to the Cottage for a hose-off.  Somehow he  managed to keep his hands completely clean!

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Working together to haul hay from the Sharing Farm to cover our garlic beds.

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Mattias worked out a system for organizing the last of the bean harvest.

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Balancing work and play in the garden!

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Shantelle and Misuzu help the Owls class to read letters from our Thompson School buddies.

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After referring to our leaf collection for a colour mixing project, Mattias carefully used a Sharpie pen to draw happy faces on the leaves before giving them to classmates.

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Becoming responsible for our space and materials, Jason and Tyler C clean up after painting in the Studio.

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Adding music and ribbon wands gives new life to the Halloween dress-up clothes. Ashlyn proudly says, “I’m dancing Powwow”

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Pausing to observe the water level of the Fraser River provided a few contemplative minutes in the middle of our active walk/run along the trails.

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It was exciting to see the wood chips arrive!  I wonder if Tyler will recall his work with Darel creating a hinge for the wagon machine?

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The wood chip mountain offered plenty of opportunity for filling, dumping, and transporting.  Thank you to all the families who continued to work on this after class and on the weekend!

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Ken and Avery spent a long time with our volunteer Zoleikha, spreading the chips between the garden beds.  The garden looks so tidy!

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Brianna and Nika take a break to deal with a ‘woodchips in the boots’ problem.

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Many children were interested in Heidi’s use of a saw to cut lengths from the branch. Later, some learned to help by balancing a foot on the log to help keep it steady for Heidi.

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Learning to sit quietly for a few minutes on our ‘sit spots’.

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Annabelle keeps her balance while looking up, up, up at Eagle Tree tunnel.

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Also at Eagle Tree Tunnel, Shantelle and Rafe play peek-a-boo.

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Catkins on the trees at Muddy Hill are plentiful, and the children delight in rubbing them apart to make it ‘snow seeds’.

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Olivia carefully holds her treasure of dandelions in a bouquet.

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Annabelle and Yi Tend work beside one another using the play dough quite differently; I am curious whether their ideas and materials will intersect?

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A lovely recollection of Nika’s Mom climbing a cherry tree to pick the fruit for us last summer comes to mind as I observe Nika at the playground.  She, too, is a skilled and fearless climber!

Thank you for viewing!