Looking with Wonder

This week, despite the heavy rainfall, has been filled with the beauty of our natural world and the glory of working outside. Horsetails are popping up all over the land, lamium (dead-nettles) are speckling our fields, honeybees are foraging on flowering plants and trees, stinging nettle is growing, the wheat in the garden is  rapidly gaining height and the most unusual development this week, the killdeer is nesting right in front of the Parson House! We have been using each one of these opportunities to discuss our role on the land and our responsibilities. How can we notice and carefully enjoy but tend to the plants and animals. What do they need from us to ensure their safety and growth? We want to marvel and show reverence to everything around us- as educators working on this land year after year, we must work at making sure we see everything with fresh eyes, with a sense of wonder so that we do not lose any sense of pure amazement.

Our mentor, Ann Pelo, shares the following:

“Accept the invitation of our glorious, miraculous earth. Like a naturalist and an artist, be servants of our eyes, our minds, our senses, and our hearts.” (Ann Pelo, the Goodness of Rain)

Enjoy the photos of children working inside and outside- exploring, sharing, taking care of each other, learning new skills, illuminating their minds with new activities and being filled with happiness!

From Heidi:

Ginny and Bevelyn spend some quiet moments together stripping the outer layer of grass reed to get to the soft foamy interior.

Alvin working on drawing the horsetails he observed.

Kyo joins in the fun first watching others run and jump into the puddle, and then trying it himself.

Lilja observes the horsetail, closely looking at its stalks.

Mia, Aaran, Daniela, Bevelyn and Emma self initiate a game of Duck-Duck-Goose. Alvin watches as the running circle becomes a game of chase up and down the hill.

With reverence,

Emily

Spring!

For all of us who thought we could pack our mittens and wool layers away during Spring Break, Tuesday was a shocking reminder of just how cold the wind can be, especially with our proximity to the Fraser River!  Nevermind, we are enjoying re-connecting to one another, to the land, to the Red-winged blackbirds, Eagles, pussywillows and puddles!  Knowing many of the children have just celebrated Easter, we have been dyeing fabric together, playing with baskets of eggs, noticing Spring flowers, and even indulging in a raucous gathering of chocolate eggs to share!  Due to the holiday Monday, seniors field trip, and buddy day, the Owls have had a short week with limited photo opps, but we’ll have more pics up soon! Enjoy this glimpse of our week!

adults set up gutter ramps as a provocation

children created new combinations

the building components completely reinvented!

Heidi and Ashlyn create a game of tossing pinecones into the ditch at a floating target

Ryan and Masa throw balls at a target high above them in the tree

Frazer and Ronan add difficulty by climbing and balancing as they try to toss the ball over the low branch

Hillary supports safe ‘hiding’ in the dense cedar tree

group observation and drawing of daffodils outside Red Barn

Ohnyou and Ashlyn chatting together to support their drawing skills, “I see a triangle” says Ashlyn, “but I don’t” says Ohnyou

Inspired by a camellia blossom Erika found on our walk, May and Sloan join Erika as they continue working in the studio with markers and pastels

Frazer and Quinn are practicing fine motor skills while cutting and collaging images from a seed catalogue

Soyon creates order using the felt blossoms at the magnet board

practicum student Deborah alongside Quinn, Audrey and Ohnyou as they combine bird puppets and the eggs in dramatic play

never mind looking for eggs, where’s Atlas?!

Heidi engaged in ‘small world’ play with Erika using tiny traditional Easter ornaments

 

getting cozy and playing house (sshh! Justine is sleeping!)

LOVE!

Thank you for reading!

Warmly,

Kate

The Call of Spring

Spring is in the air and everyone is feeling that little lift that happens once the days are longer and spring’s calls are louder- a new energy is brewing! The children have been working on a variety of projects including  an exploration of totem poles ( launching from our First Nations Dance Festival field trip), learning to use a mallet in a productive way ( we purchased some new hearty ones), cooking Japanese gomae green beans (thanks Misuzu!) and of course, developing their skills around sharing & caring.

Enjoy these photos without captions, noticing whatever strikes you as interesting or important. These photos show the work of your awesome children!

 

Warm wishes for a rejuvenating and revitalizing spring break!

Emily

Behind the Scenes

What goes on behind the scenes at a school? Well, a lot, an awful lot! To love, to design curriculum, to program details, to ensure safety and challenge, takes a team to work hard to bring these outcomes to a program. Last week, on our professional development day, we spent time dialoguing as a team, about ways to support each other in our individual and collective goals. We shared our strengths and our areas to develop-this is emotional and hard work, requiring vulnerability and trust. I noticed this week all of us paying a little more attention to eachother- making space for others to jump in or taking the lead when needed. It felt good- a true essence of a team is knowing how much better you are all together and we certainly are just that- better together! Thanks TNNS team!

Laren slows down as she walks, looking intently at the water. After a moment I say “Laren, it looks like something caught your attention.” She tells me “Yes, there is a brown thing in the water and I wonder what it is.”

The Owls notice the fallen tree and we are trying to figure out if it is similar to the willow tree. William says ” No, it has needles, spiky needles. It’s a pine tree.”

These Owls are hearty- eating outside on a cold day, enjoying snack and each other’s company without complaint.

A quiet sit spot on a cold day.

Frazer experiments with opening the bottle and pouring in the remaining liquid into another bottle. Darel and Dion support him in this endeavour.

Erika, Ohnyou and Soyon use the dinosaurs to play act family roles of mommies and babies. I might say they are rather boisterous mommies and babies!

No matter what the weather, these kids are outside doing what we do!

A familiar sight on a familiar pathway. We treasure our walks together.

Darel accidentally pokes Frazer’s eye. Rather than a quick apology, we have been working with the children to try to do something to help a situation. A check in with the person, to see if they can help. In this photo we see Darel gently wiping Frazer’s eye, asking him if he is okay. Isn’t this beautiful?

The Eagles investigate the fallen branch, noticing it’s cones and wondering how this branch fell.

Watching the power of colour on the snow. What will they want to try next?

Some cozy inside time!

Audrey spends a lot of time on this painting, carefully choosing her colours and thinking about its composition.

Cuddled up and reading in the Cottage with Shantelle. Quinn, Ronan and Jackson learn to enjoy literature, develop friendships and a bond with Shantelle during this 10 minute activity.

Rhys serves William and Sarah some noodles.

Yehuan is testing the magnetic attraction between the pieces. He tries different configurations, enjoying stacking them up in a sets.

Everyone wants to paint- a waitlist is created to ensure people get a turn.

William tells Tricia a story about an owl swooping down into it’s nest.

Misuzu and Daniela snuggle during story time, a lovely way to close the day.

Tricia captures everyone’s attention with her expressive reading.

Reya experiments with colour mixing, also learning to wash and dry her brush to create the best effect.

Avalon makes up a story about a squirrel and her acorns on the feltboard.

Our Eagle class attended the Coastal Dance Festival at the Museum of Anthropology, a recommendation put forth by the Delta Aboriginal team that joined us a while back for professional development. The beauty of this field trip is that it evolved from a natural, authentic place as this group, with Ashlyn leading the way, has explored Pow Wow dancing in class. As well, one of our small groups has been focusing on learning about animals in First Nations art and stories.

The dancers were extraordinary, sharing a tiny piece of their history and culture through dance. It was perfect for our TNNS children as their dances represented frogs, flickers, dragonflies, beavers and other animals from our very own lands at Terra Nova! It was magical to see these captured in such a dramatic and beautiful way. There were no photos allowed but here are a few images before it began.

Owls at work:

Ginny is getting ready to show her buddy the garden beds, using a magnifying jar to look for any bugs- still too cold?

Bevelyn listens to Kate’s instructions on planting seeds.

Yehuan and Daniela start to turn the soil- feels good to be back in the garden!

Kyo is so brave on his first day! He jumps right into digging with his buddy.

Sarah and her buddy weave the yarn in and out to decorate their book mark.

Lilja sets herself up a cozy little table in the sun to enjoy her snack.

Wayden, Myles and Yehuan bond over work trucks with our new Owl, Alvin.

Cleo uses markers to draw designs on her bookmark, her buddy watching her as she works.

Mia’s big buddy writes her name in block letters. Activities with our buddies support new ideas! Will Mia try to write in a different style as she begins to form letters?

Best,

Emily

Lunar New Year

The arrival of Lunar New Year, celebrated by many Asian cultures, and arriving this year on February 16, has been cause for continued celebrations in both the Eagles and Owls classes.  Throw in the lingering Valentines decor (it’s so hard to put away pink and red sparkly things!) and some late season snowfall, and you instantly have a ton of fun photos for a blog post! Enjoy!

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Lunar New Year activities included learning about the animals of the zodiac; dancing together like a dragon; writing characters for decorative banners (thank you Angela for the beautiful stones and paper lanterns, and also to Dion’s family for the decorations!); and of course, eating! Thank you to Tyler’s family for the delicious Lotus Root pockets – (did you know lotus root grows in mud? how fitting for Nature School!) – and the Owls class enjoyed homemade dumplings!

Last week Kate’s very small ‘small group’ managed to pull out one unnecessary sign, this time we had reinforcements.  Never underestimate kid power! (Wearing a bird cape helps!)

Sharing space has been a focus of the Eagles class indoor time together this week, whether figuring out how to cooperatively build with a limited block supply; how to invite a child to join in; or how to preserve a special moment between two children.

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There was plenty of interest in sorting and cataloguing Emily’s donation of children’s books.  Including young children in real life tasks provides concrete opportunities for learning such as sorting, problem solving, and writing, and also offers  an authentic sense of accomplishment.

Representing ideas artistically has been a focus of Emily’s small group work – here the skills learned are carried over to free play in the studio, where May, Ohnyou and Anderson choose to take time drawing their own ideas with fine line markers and embellish with watercolours.  They also cleaned up their supplies, stacked chairs, and wiped down the table before leaving – real work in action again!

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Staff took a mid-week break from teaching children to engage in professional development together.  Collegial time to discuss, debate, brainstorm and problem solve is so valuable, and an integral component of the Reggio Emilia practices we embrace at Nature School.

Snow changes the landscape with which we have all become so familiar, so a few reminders are in order: when is it safe to walk on ice? how do you know what is underneath the ice – a little stinky mud, or water so deep it would cover your boots, or more?  Children who run ahead of the group are expected, and trusted, to stop at bridges, benches and intersections; Nicole and Darel debate where exactly is the intersection?

Snow! Makes everything more fun, and it’s physically tiring too!

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We may be in a unique location, but there is no shortage of happenings and helpers in the park.  Thank you this week to the crews who have been out cutting back blackberry brambles and clearing the drainage ditches, and especially for putting on a little ‘back-hoe show’ for us!

Embrace the snowy weekend, you hardy, brave, and fabulous Nature School families!

Warmly, Kate

 

Love

Love in all its splendour. We love deeply here at Nature School. We love each other, we love this land and all its beautiful gifts, we love the animals and we love love LOVE being here together. Love is joyful but it is also hard, prickly, complicated and layered. Even in preschool! We work hard at balancing nurturing and caring and yet supporting children to work through tough moments, sometimes resulting in what we call ‘tough love’. This equates to not taking the easy way out, for neither educator nor child. It also means committing time and energy to find a resolution, one that will have long term impacts, not short terms quick fixes. We do this each and every day. This week, with Valentine’s Day, it is a time to reflect on love and its essence. How do we live together with love? How do you want to live with love as parents, partners, community members and people on this earth?

Enjoy glimpses of our week.

Big Jumps!

Piling sticks is a common theme- inspired by beaver dams and camp fires, it happens a lot. This is a campfire and there is negotiating about what kind of sticks are acceptable in this fire. “Nothing prickly” says Sloan.

Creating opportunities to work in partners, supporting our friendship theme this week, Shantelle skillfully supports the bean bag toss between Masa and Tyler.

Be daring and brave- into the forest Eagles!

Yutaka notices this long birch branch in an odd place. What is he thinking about as he investigates it?

Sunshine, Trees, Children, Adults. Happiness.

These Eagles have been working in my small group on First Nation animals- storytelling, drawing, acting and now 3 dimensional work with clay. Their work is focused and thoughtful.

Yi Teng makes ” a tree”, Anderson makes ‘ a Christmas tree” and Frazer makes “an owl pellet”.

Cleo and Barry tackle a tricky puzzle together.

Kate comes up with a super cool idea but how to teach about germs and hand washing. The children get a brush of oil on their hands, then a big sprinkle of paint on their hands and then have to wash it off, like germs. The children really understood how long it takes to actually clean one’s hands properly.

Lots of imaginary play at the light table as Ohnyou and Darel build and re-build with growing storylines.

Erika decorates her photo for her big buddy. Offering a small gift to them is a way of saying thank you for being part of my life.

Tyler and I work on this puzzle together, completing it two times. It was a big effort with big reward- Tyler was so very pleased at the end!

Cooperative play at its finest!

Numeracy skills at work, Emma and Avalon compare the number of worms contained in their hands. (Heidi)

Atlas collects so many worms in his hand that he uses his second hand for them to spill over onto. (Heidi)

Heidi and Tricia’s small group in the garden hunt for worms. (Heidi)

Valentines’s Festivities- preparing and enjoying!

I saw this on Instagram and want to share it with you- it struck a chord in me, maybe it will in you as well?

“That love, in its truest, steadiest, most rewarding form, is extraordinarily dull. That contrary to popular stereotypes and cinematic tropes, there’s nothing to overanalyze, nothing to second-guess, nothing to report, nothing to pursue or refuel. That it doesn’t need constant reassurance that it exists. That it just is.

Which isn’t to say it’s not exciting — it’s just a different version of exciting, a version that doesn’t pick me up and drop me, but buoys me instead.

I say it all the time now: I love you, I love you, I love you. Some people would probably tell me I say it too much, that every time I say it, it becomes less special, a little less meaningful, but I would tell them that it is meaningful precisely because it isn’t special, like air that recycles in and out of my lungs.” —Harling Ross,  from recent article “I Didn’t Realize Love Was Supposed to Be Kind of Boring”

With love,

Emily

A busy week in review….

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Inspired by their hats (with thanks to Peggy for her crafting!) Ohnyou and May are playing ‘ladybug and bee’

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 Last week the Quilchena buddies came for a visit: we made a ‘solution’ of iced tea, played with outdoor loose parts and blocks, and worked together on student biographies.

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The Monday/Wednesday Owls class thoroughly enjoyed their visit to the Minoru Seniors centre for an intergenerational dance class.

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Ryan C. and Tyler play “Drum Stalk” together – the blindfolded person has to find the person making the percussive sound using only their sense of hearing.

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Ronan successfully stole away the ‘fire’ without Frazer knowing in this game of ‘Fire Keeper”

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The classic “What time is it Mr. Wolf?” is always a hit…. taking just as many steps as the Wolf calls out is a great way to practice self-regulation.

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Kate shares the story of how Snow and Snowdrop became lasting friends, thanks to snowdrop sharing some of its’ white with snow when all the other flowers refused to give away any of their colours.

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The Beaver continues to chew away at small trees, and our industrious Nature School kids continue to haul them – teamwork! teamwork! teamwork!

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Darel develops mathematical thinking while designing with magnetic pattern pieces.

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We don’t know who started the giggle fest, but Atlas and Ryan G. just couldn’t stop once they got started, and neither could Tricia, Kate or Emily as we all stood about laughing with one another!

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The ‘restaurant’ inside the Cottage has been very popular – perhaps in preparation for our Eagles “Feast Day” with families.

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Figuring out how to use mallets and pegs has been the focus of recent Owls classes.

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Building and balancing at ‘Tree Tunnel’ and with our fabulous weatherproof outdoor blocks and other loose parts.

 

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IMG_2067As the school year goes by, we bring out some more challenging puzzles.  Thank you to Ginny for sharing some of hers!

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Birds have been a popular subject of exploration, thanks to some props: finger puppets, bird “identifiers” that play bird song, and of course, binoculars.

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First Kate’s small group spent most of a morning observing the workers replacing telephone poles along River Road; the next day Tyler and Dion were the workers as they helped Kate pull out an outdated signpost.

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Getting ready for Valentines Day by decorating our ‘Valentine’s mail’ bags”

So many wonderful moments, activities, and friendships and more to come this week as we celebrate Valentines Day and Lunar New Year this week! Warmly, Kate.

A Story

This is a story. A story about two educators who had a dream about creating a school where children can learn about the world around them and fall in love with this world. A place for children to explore with all their senses; to indulge their curiosities with questions and wonder; to develop relationships with other children, adults and everything around them; to feel that underneath everything we are all connected; to learn experientially about their own particular place; to value elders in their community; to reflect on history and discover memory; to become socially responsible and accountable for our actions; and to move through their days with joy and laughter.

This story is still being written each and every day as the characters, now many more than in in the first chapter, join together to bring all this to fruition. Each character is an integral part of the story, adding certain nuances and ideas. The adult characters have worked very hard to think deeply about this dream, often doubting they are doing enough, always questioning purpose and understanding. The children characters in this story also do a lot of work, helping to teach the adult characters about learning.

Last Friday, a group of mindful educators from the Delta School District Aboriginal Education Department joined us for a day of reciprocal professional development. The team participated in our morning activities with children, engaging with educators and children as we played games, walked together and explored. The Delta team then went off with Emily & Kate to indulge their own their learning through some hands on activities, followed by cooking lunch together, much of it from our land.

After lunch, all our TNNS educators joined the Delta team in the Cottage to discuss many big ideas: Indigenous Ways of Knowing, working within this framework, how to address concepts in an age appropriate, authentic way, building relationship, learning respectful protocols and much, much more. The Delta team empowered us with their thinking and knowledge, and we are most grateful to them.

This part of the story, this particular chapter where the two teams came together for a day, revealed a beautiful truth- the school and the characters are weaving in the principles they uphold, slowly adding colour, texture and length to the tapestry. They are working from a place of thoughtfulness, authenticity and appreciation. They have work to do, growing to do, but the path is clear, despite its small arteries leading in a myriad of directions. The characters hearts swelled as the beauty of this dream became a reality.

For more information, explore this website the First Nations Education Steering Committee

The Delta team joins the Eagles for our gathering circle.

We offer a loose parts activity with the provocation of a question. What from your work last year do you want to carry forward into this year? Using loose parts, educators create a collage that incorporates their ideas.

Another chapter- a parent evening where families unite to build community, discuss education and share experience. Lindsay, one of our Eagle students’ mum, has offered us so much since her two daughter have been in our programs. A thoughtful and gorgeous piece of art work, a Family Walk-About where we learned about native species of plants, and now this offering of a Smudging Ceremony. Lindsay opened our parent evening with a warm heart, inviting us to participate in a Smudging Ceremony, a traditional Indigenous ceremony which often uses smoke from sage to purify and cleanse our body, mind and collective space. Honestly, it felt amazing- somehow bringing us all together in an equal way. We spoke about an Indigenous frame work, sharing stories and experiences, with a recognition we are all in different places on this learning journey but most importantly, we all are on the journey. We discussed our own cultures, recognizing the similarities and differences in our upbringings. This was a riveting chapter!

Another chapter.

PAIRS

More work.

 

Excited for the next chapter!

Emily

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,

Emily

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…..

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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?

Warmly,

Emily

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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

Warmly,

Kate