It is Great to be Back!

Moving into our second week back after the holiday feels wonderful! It is a joy to laugh, play and learn with these children! Please enjoy this mini- blog; our week is fun and very full so we want to share our experiences thus far as we head into a couple of busy days to finish off the week. Kate and I are heading into a computer training course tomorrow and Friday brings a special and unique opportunity of some professional development training ( we will share more about this session later on).

Some observations from Heidi:

After a safety lesson with Kate, Ginny practices the skills she has learned with a pair of pruning shears and a branch. She carefully ensures the position of the shears before making the cut.

The Owls class gather for a group discussion about making loud noises in close proximity to one and other. Some members of our group love to shout and make loud noises while others get scared or frustrated by the sound. Facilitated by an educator, group discussions such as this help the children come up with strategies and solutions to issues.

Aaran and Myles pose with their sticks which, “are ready to do battle.” Many children have a desire to use long sticks as weapons but are still learning to gauge distance from one and others bodies. As a strategy to help the children identify proximity, the educators sometimes add flagging tape to the ends of long sticks to make the ends clearly visible.

Mia, Aaran and Bevelyn notice a large puddle and immediately gravitate to it. The children express their joy in shouts, smiles and laughter.

Wayden leads Yehuan and Elizabeth through an overgrown, swampy part of the park. “Look out for the crocodile,” Yehuan warns the others as they wade through the ankle deep water together.

Other moments in our time together:

One must wear a “helmet” in a car! Justine and Erika offer helmets to others as well. Love the creative thinking!

Ryan, Roy and Dion are fishing in the pond. Fishing is an ongoing theme.

The beauty of connection.

This group is trying to measure the depth of this water to see if they can go in safely or not.

The Eagles gather around to listen to learn about the proper and safe way to use a saw. Later, many children had an opportunity to cut Kate’s Christmas tree.

Kate helps Ronan steady the blade.

Experimenting with foam paint- sadly, it only worked for a short while- back to the drawing board!

Ezrah bumped his head on the way to sign into the Cottage so we gave him an ice pack. In this photo Oliver asks Ezrah if he would like help to hold the ice pack on his bump. So sweet!

Elizabeth and Daniela share twigs to make some designs; will they remain abstract designs or will they start to create a picture with the shapes?

Owls cook green beans from the garden (they were in the freezer). Wow, the chefs created a popular dish as most children ate 3 or 4 servings!

Sun streaming down on the painting station- talk about inspiration!

Rhys, Daniela, Yehuan and Sarah are contemplating how to get the small toy cars out of the wheel. They suggested shaking it up and down but only one car fell out. At this point, they were stumped!

Ryan connects “roads’ for his cars.

We had not played this game in a while so we brought it out again. There was great interest and it was a joy to watch them looking at the animal figures and relate to the animals we have here at Terra Nova.

Exploring with clay and wire in the Studio. Clay offers endless possibilities in terms of artistic expression, gross motor development and social awareness.

After I helped facilitate one bingo round, I then took myself out of the game so they could play independently.They really did a great job, ensuring the rules were followed and all was fair.

Tyler notices the photographs on the wall in a collage Barry made for us last year. Shantelle and Tyler enjoy looking at the photos together.

Dion and Jackson negotiate train wrecks, bumping trains and loud ‘kabooms” together.

In gratitude,


Celebrating, December 2017

As we reflect upon images from our recent days together at TNNS, we see celebration! Whether in small quiet moments that recognize individual accomplishments, or energetic gatherings honouring our community, there is much to celebrate!  Part of the joy of celebrating is in the planning and anticipation.  With young children, the repetition of stories, songs, and tasks provides a context for  celebration, be it a tasty apple that is finally knocked to the ground with a big stick after days of trying, or a feast prepared by many hands, the rewards of persistence and diligence are sweet.  Wishing you all a loving, festive, and restful Winter Break this Holiday Season!

Sharing stories together – written, oral, and dramatized with props.  Ask your child about the Crow that stole the simmering spice!

Emily posted a Vimeo of children playing with these well-loved tubes, which here become a tower for Myles; props in “a living room with TV” by Anderson and Yi Teng; a lounging bed for Ashlyn; a balancing act for Anderson and Yi Teng; a surprise from Erika; and a pleasure and challenge for Ryan as he rolls right out of the picture!

Lilja and Winnie create a shared game with pinecones as props.

So many moments of cooperation and shared learning: Cordelia observes Reya while drawing and Tyler observes Masa and Kye while making pate brisee; Tyler generously shares kale from his garden; Theo and Quinn navigate tree climbing together, while Vino and Darel coordinate moving in a hoop vehicle and Erika and Ashlyn take turns pulling each other in the wagon.

Many preparations, including  gifts, cards for buddies, food, and decorations, have kept us busy!  We made paper chains and wrapping paper, pumpkin tarts, and some yet to be opened, very ‘home-grown and recycled’ projects you’ll receive next week!

We have been working hard to determine what constitutes a ‘feast’?  This word has come up in a number of our holiday stories and conversations, so it seemed worthy of further inquiry.  Roy noticed me scribing the children’s ideas, and picked up a pen to add to the list – pre-literacy in action!  Enjoy these many images of our feasting and gathering together…..




From all of us at Terra Nova Nature School, we hope you enjoy your many and varied celebrations and feasts together!  Classes resume January 8, 2018!

Warmly, Kate


Gingerbread Cookie

This week my mind is thinking about gingerbread cookie decorating. I know it sounds trivial but it has been a big part of our last couple of weeks in terms of preparation ( calling to order the dough from the bakery, picking up the dough and arranging our bakers- thank you to Kate and our families!) and the execution. Planning the decorating requires thought and careful organization so that 50 children can all decorate happily and fairly at the same time. Aside from the logistics, what really intrigues me about the whole enterprise, is the excitement that bubbles within as children spread sugary icing and decorate with sugar coated jellies and multi coloured smarties. I am guessing our TNNS children mostly do not eat a lot of these types of treats on a regular basis so it is a combination of the novelty and ‘sinfulness’ of the junk food that is so exciting. When we engage in activities that are out of our norm, even like eating candy, something shifts inside us. A little whirlwind, a buzz, a swirl. The anticipation of something novel or delectable is like nothing else- we humans love to look forward to things; it often helps provide us with the incentive to get through the harder, more mundane moments. So, I wonder, how can we create more of these swirly feelings? In terms of relationships, how can we continue to open space for these types of feelings? I hope you have a swirly moment today- a little excitement bubble inside you!

Yutaka tests his arm strength on this “little tree”. I enjoyed watching him play with his own strength in comparison to the tree.

Laren, Avalon and Sara make soup and muffins. Laren is making a blueberry soup; the children often seem to pretend to make soup from berries.

When Elizabeth notices the scarves in the wagons, she immediately solicits Barry to throw them up in the air as they had done once before a few months ago in this exact place ( in fact, it was in another blog). Isn’t this a beautiful connection of relationship and play?

Roy is very excited as he points out a “bird” to me and then gets ready to have another look through his binoculars.

A loud sound cackles down from the skyway. Quinn looks up to see who is making the sound. This curiosity is so healthy and important as a way to care about the creatures around us.

These Eagles are pulling the leaves off of the ivy strands in preparation for wreath making with our buddies.

Learning to work with a partner in a catching game requires focus and concentration. The velcro makes for a fun game since the ball has less tendency to go flying past the catcher! Rhys and Oliver share many giggles during this game.

Negotiating the play dishes is hard work! There are many dishes that have multiples but some of then just have a ‘one of’ and those are the items that end up being sought after by many children. We love supporting this work, it leads to so much learning.

William and Yutaka explore the grasses, the squishy feel of the undergrowth and the periodic splashes of water seeping up.

Heidi shares a story with the children about the mountains of Chile. Interestingly, I had just returned from a UBC reading group where we are exploring the use of myths and oral storytelling with children, which can be so powerful. Oral storytelling is so important in terms of creating connections between past and present.

Clark so proudly says to me “I wrote my name! C-L-A-R-K!”.

Experimenting with how twigs and pebbles fall, Ezrah is discovering the basis for scientific investigation.

Quinn wants to climb a different structure but she was not tall enough. She is disappointed but not completely heartbroken so Justine and I suggest she try this spider web climber. She looks at it. She looks at me. And, then she puts one foot on the first rung, then her other foot. And she is off and climbing!

Janina and Atlas roll the giant spools. They enjoy watching it roll away from their bodies and then tip over, only to pick it up again.

Sara and Avalon race their spools. Sara and Avalon have quickly become friends.

May, Ohnyou and Yi Teng work on a storytelling project. The concept of working collaboratively on a project is really starting to come to life in a positive way. I am so excited!

Reya and Daniela make cards for their big buddies. The buddies open up their world, offering learning to all.

These Owls are so excited to decorate their gingerbread men! 

Miles and Aaran use the marble pieces to make shooting devices. Kate spends time with them, helping them to create fair and safe rules round this play. We cannot deny shooting devices, it is truly impossible, so rather than constantly trying to shut the play down, we use it as a teaching opportunity.

Wayden is figuring out which pebbles can fit through the holes at the top of the tube. I love how he connected to two towers.

One long, topsy turvy tower! Mia plays with the balance of the tower, while also putting pebbles inside the tube.

Cleo leaps from the spool after standing on it for a long while. Was she thinking about leaping off the whole time?



Learning Together

As our weeks together fly by, it is rewarding to see how the children are increasingly seeking out one another for assistance with tasks and routines; for sharing their ideas during imaginative play; and for problem solving together.  We frequently hear “I can do it for you!”, “time to wash hands, I’m the soaper!”, “How did you do that?” and “Let’s…..”.  Comments such as these support our belief in the capacity of even very young children to develop empathy and respect for themselves and their peers.   Enjoy!

Learning to sit attentively together at circle is not always easy, but visuals and action songs, and group games such as “London Bridge” are helpful!

Snack is routinely eaten outside, and children are often in charge of laying out the tarp and managing the wash stations with water and spray soap.  Just before snack, Clark invited Winnie over to explore a puddle, and Lilja responsibly played with her long stick away from other people’s bodies.

It is hard to describe the scene of six to ten tired, cold, dripping, muddy children getting changed in the POD, but somehow we all pull it off by helping each other and allowing plenty of time to get through it together!  Here Theo and Dion struggle with taking off boots before muddy buddies.


Anderson and Masa spent a long time creating this block structure, and letting others in the room know to be careful around it.  Masa said “and then it rains and then the rain stops” while holding the rain stick above. Eventually the tower did fall after being nudged, and everyone had to learn that sometimes accidents happen, but also that we can recover from the disappointment.


Yi Teng was having a quiet kind of day resting on the little couch, but by doing so he welcomed younger children, Ryan and Roy, to share some soft moments with him as they tumbled around, smiling and giggling at one another.

Sshh, it’s a surprise! but we sure have been counting a lot of beans at Nature School!


Emily helps Soyon and Ashlyn to count out beads with the number puzzle as a reference.

New play dough is always a crowd pleaser.  We have put the tops of dried up markers to a new use: with the play dough they became candles, counters, stampers, legs, and possibly even binoculars!  Sloan asked Erika, “Hey, how did you do that?” and Justine and  Darel traded colours.

Working alongside one another to create images, whether drawing with crayons or using loose parts, reminds us of how necessary social interaction is in the learning process.


Group hug! Winnie, Clark, Reya, Emma, Elizabeth, Lilja, and Atlas repeated this activity with one another several times over a few minutes, with many smiles and an easy respect for when someone wanted to let go and move on.



Family Cooking Day


I love bringing children and adults together to make healthy, wholesome, delicious food! My heart is full from yesterday’s Family Cooking Class and I believe everyone who attended have not only full bellies, but full hearts as well! Current TNNS families joined us, as well as alumni families (and Kate’s son , Grayson!)- the unification of different generations of TNNS families is so humbling and soul warming.  A special thank you to our returning volunteers, Erin and Claire, for all their help and generous spirits. So amazing to have them back in my life since I taught them preschool many moons ago! And, to our chef, Andrea MacLean, whose expertise, organization and positive attitude are beyond what one can expect.

We learned about the nuances of dough- how it thinks and feels when we touch it. We discovered the secret ingredients for tourtière filling, as well as brainstormed ideas about other fillings. We played with sheet pastry, exploring ways to make fancy designs to elevate pastry decorating to a new level. Our bakers made balls, twists, flowers and even a t-rex dinosaur! Sadly, I was so busy getting our lunch together, I forgot to take photos  of the gorgeous golden brown topped tourtières as they glistened out of the hot oven- drats! We also learned how to make dense shortbread dough with a decadent chocolate icing; each family received a gift of cookies to bring home as well, thanks Andrea!

Thank you families for rushing straight here after soccer; for packing up babies and diaper bags and bringing the whole family; for attending even when your babysitter for your younger child cancelled; for arranging for pick up and drops offs; for picking up grandchildren and dropping them back off- all of your time and commitment to creating this special community is noticed and valued.

See you next Family Cooking Class!


A Pot of Gold

As corny as it is, I think we just have to say it is all rainbows and butterflies here at TNNS! All joking aside, it truly is an exceptional place to work and live together. We are blessed to have many people interested in seeing our work here at Terra Nova and they always comment on this beautiful landscape. In fact, without exaggeration, everyone also says something like “This is the best place to work” or “You have so much fun here”. I must say, this is the biggest compliment of all- that we exude a sense of fun and playfulness, which is one of our core values here at TNNS. Together we smile and laugh as we rejoice in each other and this place. Thank you for laughing with us and travelling in this educational journey together with JOY!

The rain tumbled down clumsily. The sun pushed through with force and ambition. And then… this rainbow.

We held our second parent evening a couple of weeks ago. We continued discussions around our own play memories and how we can bring the learnings from the past into the lives of our children. It really feels like we are developing a group of supportive and intellectual parents that are committed to creating a unique community. Thank you for joining us!

Lots of rain drops fell this week. LOTS! One by one they make big puddles. BIG! Big puddles allow for such great play and learning. Enjoy these photos of our week together. Some photos speak for themselves, others have a caption.

Everyone wants to cross the bridge! ( by Misuzu)

After Heidi cut off all the branches from this tree trunk, Erina and Mia carried it over to the puddle and set it across to make a bridge. (by Misuzu)

Sharing the land with ducks opens discussion about whether it is thoughtful to yell and scare them away. Interesting to observe the power one seems to get from shooing animals away. Perhaps it is a primal instinct but here we encourage children to respectfully engage with the animals on the land.

How do we share one worm? Theo loves worms, it is hard to give it up. Ryan wants to hold it. After this photo, Theo finds a worm for Ryan- the best of both worlds!

Daniela brings in a ‘pumpkin’ from home. She was proud to show her friends.

Avalon finds a stick and proudly says ” I am making the letter L”. She then makes other letters, bending the branch as needed.

An impromptu game of tag. Look at these smiles!

My small Eagle group likes to fish in puddles, ditches and anywhere they can find water. It began with one long branch that Ashlyn found a couple of weeks ago and has now become a favourite activity with many in the group.

Mia, Yutaka, Reya and Daniela responsibly stop at our cabbage bench check point. Allowing children to run ahead and stop at certain points builds trust. We have always done this at TNNS and it was great to hear at our parent meeting that some families are also doing making space for this type of learning in their own lives.

After observing the other children for a while, Janina joins in the fun. (by Misuzu)

Erina, Mia, and Cordelia are testing out the bridge. It takes great coordination and balance to cross the bridge as it is thin, wobbly, and slippery. (by Misuzu)

Jackson and Cleo discover that their mittens float in the puddle. (By Misuzu)

Harvesting carrots for buddy day.

After our Quilchena buddy day, our Eagles do a reflection of our time together. These sketches reveal their thinking about what what was important to them. Buddies all helped make lunch together ( soup, a hummus dip, a squash dip) and explored a loose parts activity based on the book Leaf Man.

Dion and Masa find a common affection for dinosaurs and trucks. They experiment with the slippery surface of the table to zoom their trucks off the end.

Roy (not in this photo) is captivated by the eagle that is perched on the very top branch of this tree. Ryan leans back, straining to see the bird- he spots it and points to show me.

Justine pulls a heavy load- people, tree cookies and hidden trucks underneath. She is determined to get the wagon moving.

Some cozy indoor time for the Owls

Misuzu and Ryan have fun rolling the cork shapes back and forth. Ryan is discovering what pieces roll with ease while also developing a connection to one of his teachers.




Our staff team often remarks that, in terms of curriculum, our work at TNNS could not possibly be more emergent.  Every day something presents itself as a topic for further inquiry: a change in the land or weather, a library book, a child returning from holidays, celebrations, dead animals, visiting teachers, a perfect stick,  or an unexpected sighting of a Great Blue Heron…. the moments of noticing and learning are literally endless in every childcare setting, but especially so in an outdoor program.  It can be difficult to know, as an Educator, where to focus one’s attention when there are so many possibilities.  In reflecting upon the past weeks, I am aware that I have been assisted in negotiating this complexity by our practice of having ‘small groups’ and by the presence of Caitlan, our practicum student.

At TNNS we are committed to supporting the profession of Early Childhood Education by hosting ECE students from local public colleges. Extra helping hands are always welcome, but I particularly value working with adult students because I am forced to articulate my teaching practices: why I choose to present materials in a certain way; why I pay attention to some behaviours while ignoring others; why I insist upon reaching a site,  or abandon a plan altogether.  Reflecting upon and sharing my ideas with a student or colleagues stretches me to embrace new ways and new beliefs about teaching.  It has been so rewarding working with Caitlan, since she is currently working at Fresh Air Learning in North Vancouver while pursuing her part-time studies.  This has led to rich thinking together about how a particular place informs a particular way of working, as well as a sharing of practical ideas and knowledge.

The Eagles class has been working in small groups for the past month.  “Small groups” means that each of us – Heidi, Emily and myself – work with the same 6-8 children for 1-2hrs, typically on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays.  This allows for deeper relationships, more focussed attention, and a tailoring of our activities to particular interests and abilities.  We are looking forward to beginning small group work with the Owls class soon. We have noticed that it takes a little longer for staff to become familiar with the Owls, and for the Owls to feel comfortable with staff, school routines and the land, simply because of the difference in hours spent together.

Finding our way – across the land, through the curriculum, over time, and as a teacher and as a student, is what I notice as I reflect upon this weeks photographs.

Having a pyjama party in the Eagles class came about after reading a Robert Munsch story the day before.  Children were both excited to see one another wearing different clothing, and also calm and snuggly with one another and their stuffed animals.  I was struck by how such soft surroundings supported softened interactions with one another.

Creating opportunities for fine motor development can be tricky when the weather outside becomes too cold for outdoor art without mittens.  We are grateful, in these winter months, for the cozy Cottage, where we can offer sensorial work that develops strong finger and hand muscles,  so important for future pencil grip and writing development.

A birthday celebration at TNNS includes a crown of ivy with a special treasure chosen by the birthday child.   Together we sing and sign: “We celebrate your birth; and your place on the Earth.  May the Sun, Moon, and Stars, bring you peace where you are.”  Sharing tender moments together is at the heart of our practice as we nurture empathy in all our relationships with each other, the land, and all living beings.

Working with my small group, we have been exploring the land directly around the Cottage.  Often we start with collecting our snacks and loading our wagon, followed by a stop at the fence for climbing, then a visit to either the ancient Horse Chestnut tree for some collecting, or to the tree with the STOP sign, which makes a very satisfying noise when banged with sticks! We stop at the old Cannery store, the white building northeast of the Cottage, always peer inside, and then negotiate the slippery deck and ramp overgrown with blackberry vines.  It has taken much practice, but now these little people with heavily bundled little legs and bodies can confidently find their way over persistent prickle branches and through tall grass.  Sometimes our walks start at our usual end points: I think it is important for all of us to literally, and metaphorically, find our way starting with both familiar and new perspectives.

One day, during our small group time, Dion found an onion flower on the ground near the stump circle.  He knew what it was and attempted to find the place that it originally came from in the garden.  He led our small group right past the garden to walk our usual route alongside the parking lot.  When he arrived at the bridge and south side of the plastic covered field, Quinn pointed to the garden.  Immediately Dion found his bearings, and we headed back north, this time on the field, to find the onion plants in the garden!  We brought the seed heads inside for further exploration.

Negotiating rock climbing by the river.

Sitting on the rocks across River Road.

Climbing these rocks as a large group does not feel safe to me – too many people, needs and conversations call for my attention at once.  But with a small group, extra adults, and when the rocks are dry, we all stretch out of our comfort zones to negotiate this challenging terrain.  We take plenty of unhurried time to just sit and be with one another in this place, satisfied with our accomplishments for the day.

Thank you for reading!


a busy October!

All of a sudden we are well in to our routines, friendships are forming, and the days are flying by!  The trees are shedding their leaves, the snow geese have arrived, and the garden is being put to bed for the winter.  We have hosted visits from local Early Childhood Educators, neighbouring school district teachers, and our big buddies from Quilchena and Thompson Elementary schools.  Our month closed rapidly with many events, including a parent meeting, preparing for the Craft sale, harvesting vegetables before the frosts, and of course, pumpkins! Enjoy these somewhat random photos and captions!

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Oliver and Yutaka work together to create a slide for cones to roll down. They excitedly roll and grab and roll again, moving so quickly that the cones barely touch the ground before they are scooped up again.(Heidi)


Frazer decides that he would like to move a hay bale. He tries to slide it across the gravel and determines that he will need help. He recruits Darel and Kye to help, though they lose interest quickly. As Frazer calls for more help he leans into the bale. As he does this the bale begins to lift off the ground and suddenly flips over. “Oh never mind, I can do it myself,” Frazer calls out as he figures out how to flip the bale again.(Heidi)


Ryan appears very focused as he lifts a large outdoor block high over his head.(Heidi)


Atlas and Rhys work with Emily to make a pipe cleaner spider. Rhys carries the spider around with him as he plays with other equipment.(Heidi)

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William and Oliver run into each other while rolling tubes along the ground. It doesn’t take long for the accidental collision to become a fun game of exerting force against an opposing force.(Heidi)

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Clark began using this bench by placing the tube on it and launching it across the surface by pushing it with his hands. After perfecting his roll, so that it fell off the opposite end, Clark tried something different; He placed the tube on one end of the bench and lifted one end of the bench, allowing the tube to roll down just using the force of gravity.(Heidi)


“Winnie, help me help me.  Lilja summons Winnie to help her move the wagon.  they try different strategies, including pushing, pulling and chanting, ‘heave ho!” (Heidi)


“Look, it’s a volcano. It is exploding,” Clark announces as he places a stick into a pile of gravel he has gathered together.(Heidi)

Misuzu’s expression is so warming and inviting- getting down to the child’s level is so helpful for building connections. (Emily)

Tricia exposes shapes and letters with Janina in the soil. This sensory activity is calming and supports learning in many areas. (Emily)

Barry asks Laren and Daniela if either of them have ever been on a ferry. Asking children questions about their own lives helps us to gain insight into their experiences and ideas. (Emily)

Aaran is learning how to avoid getting blackberry thorns in his jacket- an important skills here at Terra Nova! (Emily)

Investigating and counting the thorns. these Owls are paying a lot of attention to their surroundings. (Emily)

A group effort to cover the garlic beds with hay for the winter. Farm chores are fun!

Austin uses the bench to hoist himself up onto the porch. Oliver put it there after planning just how he was going to get up on that deck. Oliver turned the bench upside down so he could haul it over, then flipped it over again, and alas, a step stool! (Emily)

Rhys works at balancing the wheelbarrow, not an easy tasks on the narrow pathway.(Emily)

Theo reads the sign, pointing it to other Eagles. The No Dogs Allowed signs, posted throughout the park, seem to be very captivating for children. Is it that there are not many signs or is that it is about dogs? (Emily)

Eagles work together to spread the hay. Thanks Sharing Farm! (Emily)

Ohnyou eats a cucumber with baba ganoush. I love the fact that almost everyone tries a least one bite of the food offered here at school. How brave and daring!(Emily)


Applying powder paint to moistened paper creates a different effect.


Cordelia tackles a tricky puzzle while also enjoying the dress-up clothes!


Kye assists Dion with putting on a pinny before going to the playground.


Erina chooses each bead with care, eventually using every bead from the box.


Theo, Dion, Yi Teng and Anderson scrub carrots just harvested from the garden.


Reya is excited to be counting out five felt pumpkins that relate to a song we learned together at circle.


Heidi makes a serious face during a discussion of facial features and expressions as we decide how to carve this pumpkin together.


Justine and Audrey methodically save all the pumpkin seeds that we will roast to eat.


Mia places these decorative owls in size order – she is learning about mathematical principles such as seriation and proportion.


Yi Teng and Kye discuss ways to divide and organize the Halloween gems on the light table.


Winnie organizes the blocks in this puzzle by one attribute – shape.  Other possible attributes include colour and height.


Dressing up for a dance party!


Emma, Cordelia and Cleo enjoy dressing up and dancing together.


The Owls class tries to find all 21 of the orange pinecones they painted with their buddies.


Darel gets a wheelbarrow ride, thanks to Justine’s strong muscles!


The field south of our gathering circle has been plowed in preparation for next year’s butterfly garden, but the snow geese don’t seem to mind.


Atlas and Elizabeth laugh after hiding behind ‘Cabbage Bench’ which is a favourite game for many Owls.


Heidi’s small group helps with planting daffodil bulbs outside the Cottage.


Kate’s small group pauses to watch the combine plough over the grass.


Thank you to Winnie’s family for scrubbing all our tarps during their helping afternoon!


Quinn proudly stands atop a tree stump.  Taking turns to climb up has required a lot of negotiation and difficult turn taking, but this is what Kate’s small group has been working on together!


Ryan C. just hanging out on a beautiful autumn morning, and now, on to winter…..



It has been a whirlwind of a week; literally and figuratively! The wind howled and the rain pelted down sideways, forwards and backwards! We were wet and then we were dry. We were wet and then we were dry.  We were wet and then we were dry. This is what we do here at TNNS, weather the storms with courage, togetherness and joy. Thanks to an incredible bunch of children, parents and staff, we all loved our full and challenging week.

Barry starts the week off one a delicious note as generously brought both Eagles and Owls bannock from a special baker in Kelowna! This traditional fry bread is scrumptious with jam- thanks Barry!

As you know from our emails and videos, Chris Roskelley came out for a visit on Monday. The children sang, used instruments and danced their hearts out!

We were honoured to host the beginning of an exciting project titled ‘Changing results for Young Children’, a partnership between the Richmond, Vancouver and Burnaby School Districts with Early Learning Centres.  Through dialogue and reflective documentation, primary educators and Early Childhood Educators, will be working together throughout the year to increase understanding of early years best practice. Heidi will be representing TNNS at these sessions; her knowledge and expertise will be an asset to her group and we are looking forward to learning from the other educators via Heidi.

Work inside and outside-

William and Oliver work with focus as they draw their own faces for their binder self-portrait project.

Love the smile Clark is drawing!

Laren tells me “I want to do my whole body.”

Lilja carefully notices the various parts of her face. She narrates her observations as she transfers them onto paper. (by Heidi)

Heidi teaches ‘mushroom’ parts and safety with a song.

Kye and Ronan help to do our family chores and offer to fold laundry. They both fold carefully and with precision!

Myles spends an extended period of time focusing intently on shelling all of the beans in the basket and placing them into a single cup.( by Heidi)

Yehuan and Mia wordlessly add ingredients to the pan with, “the cooking fire.” (by Heidi)

Cordelia and Emma attempt to figure out how to dress the small dolls, trying to determine where the limbs go and how to manipulate the buttons. ( by Heidi)

Yehuan notices something in the blackberry bushes. “This is a digger and this was a machine from the farm. The farm was here for a very long time and when the farm grow bigger the blackberries grow old over the digger,” he determines. ( by Heidi)

Clark spends a long time carefully choosing his shapes; he is developing mathematical skills and the ability to follow through on a task.

Theo and Masa sing and play and laugh loudly together! The beauty of childhood!

Kate is on her way to becoming our resident Apple Expert! With a deep interest in apples. Kate went to the UBC Apple Festival, with our own varietals in hand, to have them identified by their apple specialist. Here she is sharing some of what she learned with the children. Thanks Kate!

Budding friendship between Aaron and Elizabeth. What are they talking about? I cannot hear as it is raining too hard but I would be interested to know.

Daniela and Oliver investigate a mushroom, know as Amanita. Learning to respect its beauty, without touching it, is something we work on a lot in the autumn.

We hosted our first parent night of this school year. What an amazing turnout of dedicated parents ( If you could not make this meeting, no worries at all- next time!). We were so grateful folks braved the weather to join us in a discussion about outdoor childhood experiences and what long term value they have in life.

With gratitude,


Side by Side

Each moment of each day we are all learning side by side. We all work hard to do this learning, really hard! Children are working hard to figure out this new world of being in a large group. Educators are working  hard to support all their learning and social interactions. Together, with our families, we work hard to create a place where children are valued and recognized for the intelligent, creative beings they are! We also work together to ensure these children are kind; to each other, to the land, to the animals and to themselves. This is not easy, nor should it be! It takes love and commitment to work, learn and live side by side. We love it!

Reya, Emma and Cleo try to find strategies in order to pull down a tree. “You hold on to my waist and I hold on to the rope and you pull my waist and I pull the tree,” Reya suggests to Cleo. ( by Heidi)

Who doesn’t love a home grown pumpkin? Janina loves it so much she rests her face along its cool, smooth surface. This is truly connecting with nature! How beautiful and organic!

In our small group, we are exploring lines. Ronan is experimenting with creating shapes with his string. Is he thinking about the shape or the act of unrolling the string?

Heidi shows the children an old piece of wood that was uncovered. She invites them to think about what it might be, how it got there, and what it could be used for. Opening dialogues where children are encouraged to brainstorm ideas is an important part of our curriculum.

We had not really planned on digging in the garden but there were some requests so out came the spades! Sensory activities, such as this one, invite calm, social and solitary play.

These Owls are assembling the squash and kale quesadillas for snack. They harvested the kale, cut it up and are now learning to use the pepper mill. Cooking together is a way to create shared experiences that carry into our other moments together.

Rhys and Aaran work with big trucks. There is such an attraction to big trucks and wheels- how can we expand this play to go deeper?

Daily visits to the garden help us all to see what is growing and what has perished and is now rotting! Observing seasonal changes first hand is the best way to connect with the world around us.

Vino and Frazer admire the big carrots. After I took this photo, we harvested a couple of big carrots and shared them. Delicious and sweet!

I am not sure what Elizabeth and Barry are talking about but I do know that I heard them both laughing a lot!

Audrey proudly shows us the pomegranate seeds her and her mommy prepared for our snack today. Thank you for the healthy treat!

Kate starts to walk back to the Cottage with our newest Eagles to allow them some more time to get changed in the pod. I just had to snap this photo from behind as the group looks so adorable!

A small amount of hail incites elation as children touch, stomp on and ‘skate’ along the pellets.

Yehuan notices the nests in the art studio. He carefully looks at each nest then announces that one nest has whole eggs but no bird; Another nest has broken eggs and still no bird; The last nest had a bird, but no eggs. He wondered why and began to look into a nest book to see if he could identify the birds. He informs Tricia that he believes, “the egg is too small to be an owl, maybe it belongs to an eagle.” ( by Heidi)

Winnie tenderly tucks a teddy bear under a silk blanket while talking to it in a quiet voice.

In the art studio, Wayden and Myles are presented with oil pastels and a paper canvas table covering. Initially they use the oil pastels to mark the paper, but when Wayden realizes that the pastels are covered with a paper slip that can come off, they both focus intently on removing all of the paper slips. (by Heidi)

Ginny and Janina work side by side scooping, pouring and smashing flax pods. ( by Heidi)

“Mia, should we build a ladder or a tower?” Lilja asks as she adds another piece to her structure. ( by Heidi)

Vino makes a squid. This piece of art demonstrates the ability to bring an idea to a concrete representation.

Ryan uses these shakers to test balance and weight. Typically these are used in our dramatic play area so it is interesting to see that he took them away from that area to use them for something unconventional.

All Eagles and Owls will do a self-portrait for their binders.

Eagles making our quesadillas; most children gobbled them up at lunch!

Kye and Theo use the rain sticks to create “Loud, loud noise!”

Uncovering gems and sequins is so exciting! Even as an adult, uncovering or unwrapping something makes your heart beat a little faster.

Some focused work!

‘With gratitude,


October 6, 2017

This week at Nature School we had an interesting encounter at a place we call ‘Muddy Hill’, so-named by the children in our first year for the steep, slippery mud track that leads walkers to a bench at the top of the rise.   We have come to know  this place as a site for particular opportunities: it is a challenging area for individuals to bravely tackle gross motor skills; it is a place for complex social interactions and negotiations as children engaged in imaginative play amongst the trees; and it was a place for children to feel safely ‘out of sight’ of adults while safely playing within boundaries.

This place has changed recently – the young birch trees that covered the hill were removed to keep sight lines open and to maintain low-growth areas for raptors.  Consequently, the area now looks very different.  The unexpected change had children and staff alike feeling shocked and dislocated from a familiar landmark, but we have made a point of continuing to visit the area, despite our sense of loss, in order to observe the children’s process of re-establishing their patterns of play.

This week a group of thirty or more adults from Surrey Parks and Recreation came out to visit Terra Nova Rural Park, and they happened to walk by Muddy Hill while we were there.  The children froze as they watched the group of adults approach.  I have no doubt that the adults regarded themselves as the observers  – such colourful and cute subjects! –  but it was apparent to me that the children did not take this view.  Despite its changes, Muddy Hill was very much their familiar territory, and the adults were the interlopers there.  The children were not afraid, rather they seemed deeply curious and focussed.  Observing and reflecting on the children’s relationships, their behaviours, interests, and strengths is the foundation of our work as teachers.   Paying close attention – to each other, to the land, and to all it’s inhabitants, is what resonates with me as I peruse this week’s photographs.  Enjoy looking!

The gazebo offers a challenging climb for those who are ready, while others take time to become comfortable with the height.


Climbing trees is exciting and daunting.  Children are learning the mechanics of where to put feet and hands, as well as learning to judge the safety of the trees branches and how to avoid damaging these precious young fruit trees.  Others learn through observation, or find a role for themselves as cheerleaders!

So many ways to gain physical strength when playing outside, whether using traditional sports equipment, the built environment, or props such wagons, wheelbarrows, rocks, and squash.

The children are looking closely at homegrown squash, pumpkins and garlic, which gives these focussed drawing times purpose and develops an eye for detail.

Eagles and Owls alike have been learning to use binoculars.  We were particularly delighted to hear and see Bald Eagles returning to ‘Eagle Tree Tunnel’ just west of the parking lot.

Testing theories and ideas to solve problems is the work of childhood.  We try to minimize our adult intervention, supporting the idea that there are many solutions.

And a few final pictures that capture the joy of being together in this beautiful space:

With heartfelt thanks for this gift of Terra Nova Nature School – enjoy a restful long weekend together!

Warmly, Kate


Autumn Sunshine

What a spectacular week it has been! Children settling into routine, smiling and enjoying being in a group setting. Enjoy a few photos from last week and many from this week!

Masa & Anderson explore colour as they look at each other’s faces through coloured glass. The combination of colours sends them into fits of laughter.

Hillary supports sharing and turn taking at the play dough tarp.

Using chalk pastels to express a design idea, Quinn & Ashlyn work alongside each other in silence.

Based on observed interest in tubes and cars, we bring the long “roadways and ramps” down to the healing garden. How will a new place change their play?

Apple & carrot soup, using up veggies from the garden that are not great for raw eating. Teaching children the importance of using what we have is important here at TNNS!

Atlas enjoys digging for potatoes, finding spiders and scooping soil.

Thanks for all the watering Daniela!

At first, Wayden is hesitant to get his hands dirty in the soil but it sure doesn’t take long for him to realize how fun it is to harvest veggies grown underneath the soil!

Fresh tomatoes off the vine- the gifts of a late summer! Cleo and Lilja eat several each while Reya looks on, curious but unsure of eating one herself. Maybe another day!

Edible wilds grow plentiful here at the farm so we dialogue a lot about safety and mindful harvesting. Heidi picks a fresh clover to share with everyone.

Lining up for clover petals! Don’t you love Nature School?

Soyon finds an old lean to shelter made in our summer camps. Hiding in small places is always intriguing. What other play can happen here? I wonder what we could place inside to add to this space?

Working in teams to investigate and record garden finding, Audrey, Ronan & Tyler look at drying beans. Crossing fingers they dry in time before the rains come!

Dion & Justine draw watermelon and cantaloupe growing on their vines. How wonderful to really see where these fruits come from and how they are grown.

Many chefs may quick cutting of potatoes for roasted potatoes for lunch.

Roy & Masa use elastic bands to explore geometric shapes and designs. This activity also builds strength in hand and finger muscles.

Owl Chefs on potato duty!

The magnetic maze allows Reya to look for pathways and figure out solutions.

Avalon is on a mission! She wants to do every single shape board all by herself!

Barry points out a Great Blue Heron, one of the first we have seen this school year. Theo and Roy are trying to get an eye on it but it is far away and quite camouflaged.

The Eagles use binoculars to look for birds and planes.

Ryan and Quinn work long and hard at filling up the tower with gravel. Barry adds encouragement and helps to stabilize the structure for them. It was beautiful to watch them all working together.

Eagle chefs making mashed potatoes at the harvest tables in the Healing Garden.

Roy is climbing up here for the first time! Challenging our bodies and taking risks is something that is supported here at TNNS!

Thank you Soyon!

Owls learn new lyrics to a familiar tune; Misuzu does a musical version of Old Macdonald.

The Owls go through their first emergency drill of the year.

Owls cutting potatoes for our outdoor cooking project.

Ezrah and Misuzu share a giggle as they tickle and hug each other. These early stages of a relationship are so important for future interactions.

Bowls and dishes create pretend play opportunities to make ice cream and cupcakes!

Oliver enjoys filling the pots with dried grass and then pouring it out. Allowing time for exploration in sensory play is important for young children.

“I found a snail, I found a snail “, exclaims Avalon with excitement!

Jess & Erika continue to develop their relationship from last year. This is exactly why we are here, doing what we do. To love and nurture each other and grow together on this land! Thanks for volunteering Jess!

Yay, Yi Ting!!

In gratitude,