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Feb 2. Week 4 Wonderland of fun!

Updated: Feb 16

We shall not cease from exploration

And the end of all our exploring

Will be to arrive where we started

And know the place for the first time.

--from T.S. Eliot’s “Little Gidding”

The first time I laid eyes on St James' Anglican Church about a year ago I was reminded of T.S. Eliot's poem. Today those words resurface as I reflect upon our time shared in this sacred space and land exploring with the children and families who have joined us. This week presented an interesting twist to our exploration. Amidst rain, warmth, illnesses and loss we sought ways to cultivate peace, stillness and calm. I extend my heartfelt gratitude to all who provided support to keep going. Additionally, this marked our first week without Matt, our fearless, patient, and fun-loving Director of Learning. We miss his presence and are grateful for the guidance he provided to unite us in this journey.

What Happened?

Monday! We welcomed Arkham and his family, another bright, fun and outdoor-loving family to our community! Lots of discoveries as the cold spell added an icy topping to the snow with natural objects that were frozen within. Climbing the branches of vine-like trees brings the children tremendous joy in seeing higher grounds. Sledding continues to be a popular choice, in addition to building a fort and raisin cookie making at the bakery! Jess shared her French Language skills during Monday's lunch hour, and this week they learned colours and a game of broken telephone with words that start with a letter of their choice. This week was the letter/sound 'J'. Songs are shared in English and French and the children quickly join in!

Tuesday! Binoculars are shared to see from a new perspective and new friendships are made with our Forest Play teachers: Amanda covering for the day, Mary joining for the AM, and Ashley keeping us stable for the PM. Penelope joins in the play with Indiana adding another afternoon to her week and Cillian joins for his first day without his father James, woohoo! Sledding and animal role-play have us using our voices in new ways and collaborative play as we climb, build and enter into creative landscapes.

Wednesday! Milo's younger sister, Ivy has a trial today and makes great friendships, with some shared naps outdoors with Ava. Jess covers for the day with Sara and Ashley bringing familiar smiles and routines to the group. Lots of sledding, dog piling, collecting and making food for the animals in our play. The children continued to climb to new heights displaying courage, risk-taking and support as the kids cheered each other on! Restaurant menus elaborate with pies, muffins, slime, potions and soup!

Wednesday's older kids! The morning started with climbing random snow piles with lots of imaginative play as the children were on a quest for emeralds, in particular, the 'Master Emerald'. They culminated in a hike to Sandy Beach where the 'big hill' was discovered in their story, guarded by an 'evil witch' (Marion) who they overpowered to take over the mountain! The group carefully explored the shoreline where they dug a hole through the ice about 4 inches deep. They set up goals and played hockey with the sticks they found. They took the long way back to base camp through the woods and discovered a nice 'skating rink' where they spent some time slipping around and where Edmond knocked out his loose tooth! Hooray! There was a moment of panic, and then the tooth was found and the group celebrated their victory! Lunchtime provided the opportunity to warm up inside the Hudson Community Centre and play games before heading back outside for some sledding at Jack Layton Park.

Thursday! Lava tigers is a common game with bunnies and a lion. Sledding is a popular enjoyment with speed, navigation and laughter filling the air! We welcomed Henry returning to Forest Play today with Chey returning after being sick for a few days. There was a hotel rental tree, with rooms all the way up on branches, a great hike around the park and crushing red berries to make different colours in the snow. We were surprised by the arrival of rain today! How delightful! We always welcome Ciarra as our volunteer on Thursdays, Gwen C.'s sister. Lots of running, pulling on sleds and trekking through the snow had some of us taking brief naps in the afternoon. Lots of read-alouds in our book collection, click here to see the list each week!

What does it mean? We are an amazing community of support, love and care. The constant communication, openness and flexibility within our team allows our program to thrive and the children to feel safe, included and a sense of belonging. The groups' creativity, interests, and confidence create new opportunities for seeing the land from different perspectives and interacting with natural materials in new ways. The children are more comfortable sharing their emotions, ideas, needs and wants during our regular circle times. Storytelling and story creating build great connections with each other, the text, and ourselves as children listen to the ways characters are developed, expressed and solve problems. French Language skills are being introduced, learned and practised. Transitions are becoming easier as we move from inside the tent to the outdoors. Le Nichoir continues to be an excellent space for washroom breaks and triggering conversations about bird safety, wildlife and care.

Respect was a common theme this week as we learned to cooperate on the sled hill, taking turns, and allowing each of us to have a voice in meetings. Respecting nature, the animals and ways to share the park also created a greater awareness among the families, teachers and children. We are building community with the regular dog walkers and enjoy the smiles, greetings and familiar interactions each week. We are getting to know ourselves, each other and the land more and more as we provide opportunities to observe what motivates us to move, play, wonder, and interact in different ways. Some kids love to sing, dance and voice their ideas; others prefer to quietly explore, discover and listen to their ideas; and the different age groups allow us to practice the valued roles of a cooperative team: leadership, collaborator, listener, supporter and follower. It's beautiful to watch, listen to, and observe the interplay and changing of roles depending on the opportunity, situation and dynamic of the group.

What's next? We keep going! As we hit the midway point children naturally learn more about expressing themselves, boundaries, safety and interactions. We continue to build our stamina with solo time, recognizing the importance of stopping, resting, reflecting and listening to our breathing, nature and each other. Teachers plan for and co-create new opportunities for children to discover, play, self-regulate, and learn together.

The shared classroom space inside Le Nichoir has become a regular place for me to work remotely most days. Should you ever want to say hello or ask a question, I can slip out or you can come inside! As our program grows more families are curious and might come for a tour, trial day to simply observe our program. Please be mindful of new families and join me in welcoming them to our program!

Each week brings newness as we return to the land and space we share. I have so much gratitude for this opportunity to interact and engage with your children who remind and teach me to be present and arrive ready to see, explore, play and learn from the land as though for the first time.

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