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Feb. 9 Sunshine!

Updated: Feb 16

Week 5 at Hudson Forest Play brought so much brightness as the sun welcomed us to our play each day!! 'Beauty lies in the experiences we gain along the way — and the rewarding feelings we get from being fully present' (DailyOM,). This is true for when we engage in movement with the children; dancing, running, sliding, walking, or playing a game - getting physical is a gateway for our senses to come alive. As we coordinate our limbs, stretch our muscles, move, breathe, and sweat, children experience their unique flow of energy, resilience, and empowerment — pure mind-body synergy. The addition of being in nature, the powerful vitamin D that the sunshine gives and the joy felt from friendships further enhance the experience and wellbeing.

What Happened? The team met on Tuesday evening to reflect upon our new space and plan forward. There was an overall consensus that the winter yurt has been a huge success for several reasons: warming, grounding, resetting the mood, circle time and home base.

Monday: The children continue to start each day with free play to help 'break the ice' through unstructured or free play/inquiry. They nicely move into the tent for circle time, which is a 'controlled or structured play/inquiry' where the teacher leads the discussion and asks questions as the children eat a snack and share their ideas for the day. Books are read during lunch and circle time to bring the group together. Amanda joined in the afternoon to cover for Ian who was in Banff this week with his family. Moments of rest in the sunshine created a nice time as the children naturally spread out across the land for some child-directed solo time. Shadow making was noticed with the sun beaming down and the children enjoyed the different shapes and sizes they made.

The children also did some improv acting today! Cheyenne would give a prompt for the children to act out this one was “an old lady who got stuck in a tree because she was looking for her cat”. Sally was recorded in this video attached. This is an example of structured/controlled play/inquiry (see diagram below)

Tuesday: Free play was followed by foraging for materials in a 'Guided Play' activity where children were guided by Cassie and the choice to find natural materials to build/create bark-bird feeders (wild bird seeds in peanut butter). Their reading today included two themed books Over and Under and Winter Birds to align with our theme of winter, birds, food sources, and animal hibernation. The sunshine gave plenty of warmth this week, nicely turning the snow to yet a different texture and icy surfaces for great sledding adventures!

The afternoon the children continued sledding, climbing and role-playing different scenarios. You can see them pretending to be lions inside the caged fence, feeding each other and making pancakes! Reading of books, solo time and restful moments in the sunshine!

Wednesday: The older kids put on their journalist lens and went into the Town of Hudson to gather research! They asked local Hudsonites about their perspectives about the forest!

The younger kids played all day in the beautiful sunshine!! Morning sledding competitions happened to see how far each child could get down the small hill. The children all chose what animal they would like to be while using the talking stick during 'circle' time. There was a bumblebee dolphin combo, a mermaid unicorn combo, a blah blah, and a kitty with no arms. The group read about scientist detectives and states of water. On their outdoor adventure to the back hill, scientists observed ice in different colours and forms while bum-sliding on the ice! There were also a few wolf pack howls, and some birds were observed.

Lunchtime the children enjoyed drawing the alphabet and a clock.

Lots of tree climbing and coloring today! the children are getting better at solving issues among themselves & apologizing to each other without being asked. If an incident occurred I would ask about it and both sides involved already came to an agreement or apologized on. they have found a little hobbit area to climb and play!

Thursday: The smog warnings didn't keep us away from the outdoors today! The children enjoyed another great day with the sun creating, building, climbing, and playing games! The books were Porcupine Cupid and Grumpy Monkey Valentine Gross Out as we get closer to Valentine's Day. Marianne led the group in making Valentine hearts out of cardboard and items the children foraged in nature. The introduction of a new tool, the hot glue gun, was a big hit with the kids as they learned how to use the new tool, what it's for and why it can be dangerous.

While playing outdoors a few of the children spotted some rabbit droppings!

What Does it Mean?

The children are as affected by the presence of the sunshine as we are as adults. The change in moods, energy levels and enjoyment with the outdoors is so impacted by the weather. This week the kids seemed more peaceful with each other, although there continued to be moments of conflict that provided the opportunity for self-regulation, resolution and learning more about ourselves and each other. Different types of play/inquiry happen throughout the day as our teachers engage and interact with children. Each type of play provides the opportunity for different levels of teacher direction; from structured play when describing instructions and demonstrating how to create something like a bird feeder, to guided play when children are foraging for natural materials, to free play when the children have the greatest freedom to play with their friends and interact with nature's beauty. Within that free play, a teacher decides how to approach the play depending on the level of risk, mood, conflict or questions asked. Teachers may invite further inquiry into a playful moment with gentle nudging questions, or simply give a child space to solve their own questions or co-create with their peers and then share with the group! This process is termed 'scaffolding inquiry' and this diagram below helps visualize it's meaning. Trevor Mackenzie is the author of 'Dive into Inquiry,' and where this diagram was first shared. Trevor is a teacher, international inquiry consultant and keynote speaker who has written many books and travelled around the globe to share his passion. I first met Trevor on Twitter in 2013 when I was completing my Masters in Education and I won the draw for his book. Read more about the power of play-based learning in this article by Edutopia.

What's Next?

Kindness is our theme for the remainder of this month! Cassie's bird feeder activity was a great introduction to the concept of kindness in the children's act to provide food for the wild birds in the Nature Reserve. We will continue talking about acts of kindness and we encourage you to do the same at home. You can find great resources and ideas on this website:

The books we read, activities we plan and engagements we have will bring greater purpose as children give and receive kindness throughout the day. We believe the link between kindness and respect is profound and an important stage of social skill development and understanding our role in relationships.

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