Emily’s post of last week, “Encounters”, has had me thinking about a word that represents my own intentions for this New Year of 2017.  In this, our third year of operating Terra Nova Nature School, I am enjoying a feeling of ‘finding our feet’ – we operate with proven systems and routines; we have names for places within the park; our staff know each other well and trade in and out of tasks seamlessly – there is a rhythm to our work that is reassuring.  And certainly we have no shortage of encounters!  But, as Emily suggests, how do we deepen our encounters?  How do we stay open to all possibilities, while maintaining particular values and philosophies? How do we know when to change course, and when to continue working towards specific goals for the children, the curriculum, the school community, and ourselves as educators?  This is my on-going internal debate and joy as an educator: the known is never certain, and what seems certain always has hidden surprises, so this work never feels boring!  And my word?  Joy!  Every day I am reminded of the reason we dreamed up Nature School in the first place – because even on  the toughest, wettest, crankiest, trickiest of days, there is always an encounter that has me smiling, always a moment of joy to be encountered.  Enjoy this glimpse of our most recent week together!

img_6754Running to keep warm by the windy river!img_6758Ken notices the dark clouds and predicts more rainy weather.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAFiguring out how to share the big blocks is a challenge, but always results in interesting structures that support dramatic play.

img_6741Zoya, Elsa and Leo are making pizza in the ‘oven’ (cardboard tubes)….img_6807And making pizza inside the Cottage.

img_6806Soyon and Yi Teng have caught something on the end of their sticks!img_6746Using real tools, scaled to kid size, offers the satisfaction of doing real work.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

img_6822Just add water and the play lasts for hours!

img_6819img_6820img_6796Kye and Kingston have a chat about organizing a playdate, and wondering where each other’s house is?img_6747May and Vino are playing superheroes.img_6788Sloan, Zoe, Hayden & Ludwig mess about with cornstarch goop and colouring.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERATyler is thrilled with the colours he has created, especially the way the blues and pinks swirl over the dissolving sugar cube.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABoth the Eagles and Owls have been noticing the birds – here Sloan, Avery, Darel and Justine are playing in their ‘nest’.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERATo assist with bird-watching, Emily teaches Tyler and Yohan how to hold the binoculars.img_6722OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAYohan and Zoë refer to field guides for making their notes and drawings.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAZoe keeps a tally sheet for the group during morning walk: one line for every crow we saw.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABrianna and Ludwig are ‘tracking’ the birds; “take 3 steps then stop, okay?” says Brianna.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe arrival of the septic tank truck is a perfect opportunity for more observing and drawing.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAEmily teaches the Eagles class some calming yoga poses…..OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA….. and Darel is calm and relaxed, breathing deeply while keeping his eyes closed.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe children offer many theories about why the rodent is lying on the pathway – a common thread is that a cat, or maybe a coyote, caught it and hurt it.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAlthough the group has moved on, Erika and Ayleen stay to look more closely.  “Wake up! Wake up! Wake up!” calls Erika.img_6830After learning about Richmond’s Food Security Charter at our recent parent meeting, parents planted seeds as a gift and provocation to the children.  Parents in Reggio Emilia schools often create artworks, garden projects, or other surprises for their children’s classes.