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First Four Days of the New Session

Updated: Sep 17, 2023

What Happened?

Wow! It was so wonderful to welcome back families from the spring session and to meet most of the new families that have joined us for our new, expanded, fall session!

We welcome everyone to this Learning Story space. In case you were wondering, a Learning Story, is a narrative composed of pictures and words to describe the learning that occurs for young people when they often do not know that they are learning. The practice of Learning Stories originated in Aotearoa's / New Zealand's Maori-influenced, early childhood system, in part to make learning and reporting more accessible, authentic, and holistic to how people actually learn in a particular context and in relationship to peers, adults, and the land. This is a natural fit with the philosophy of Hudson Forest Play. Learning stories can be for the whole group, small groups or for individuals.

This learning story is a group story for our first four days. We will publish one group learning story each week organized around three headings, What Happened? What Does it Mean? and What's Next? At the end of each 3 month session we also provide to families, an individual learning story for each child. Our first weeks and first unit of inquiry, are all about getting to know each other and building a feeling of safety and belonging. As a group we started inquiring into the following big idea: Understanding ourselves and each other can help build community.

Our apologies if we did not capture photos of your child in action this week. Safety and attending to the children's needs is always our first priority. We are also progressing through the Letters and Sounds, an oral literacy framework from the UK, with activities that teach listening and learning letters and sounds. This week and next we are focusing on s, a, & t. Other learning objectives for the first two weeks are noticing and appreciating nature, self-regulation, and mindfulness.

We had lots of fun getting to know each other playing in the stream, the bridge and the forest. We were excited to see many frogs, toads, caterpillars, flowers, ducks, a wood-pecker, millipedes, praying mantis babies, and mysterious foot prints in the mud! Lots of people in our groups like to make music, draw, read, build, play games, and hear stories. We explored the area near our new drop off/collection meeting point inside the park gate and some children built a stick hut against a tree. The main area we continue to explore and play in, is east of the footbridge, surrounded on three sides by the little river. Two afternoons we also walked a km to Sandy Beach. Many children enjoyed climbing trees, sliding down river banks, balancing on fallen logs, splashing in the water, making mud balls, mud soup, playing store, throwing natural materials, relaxing in a hammock, and hunting frogs. We are learning about safe handling of frogs and to limit our handling of frogs for their own well-being. Many children also enjoyed building a raft, swords, castles, houses, necklaces, and a bridge.

What Does It Mean?

The children and families are getting to know each other, our teachers, the environment and other new community members like our Lunch Play Leaders. Connections are being made through play, wondering at the treasures of nature, eating, and meeting times. Teachers are observing and taking note of the fears, joys, emotions, risky play, interests, and questions that the families and children are expressing directly and through their play. This data is being used to plan forward for future learning activities and engagements as part of our emergent curriculum. Literacy, Language, Math, Science, and Social Studies are actively being questioned, tested, practiced and learned. Self-regulation strategies are being practiced and shared as different emotions are expressed and experienced in different ways. We are learning how to interact with ourselves, others and nature with kindness and respect. We also know that it's important to take the time to build a safe learning community because it is vital for people to feel safe and connected for optimum learning.

From our Wellness Leader, Anita:

This Morning

This morning the redbirds’ eggs have hatched and already the chicks are chirping for food. They don’t know where it’s coming from, they just keep shouting, “More! More!” As to anything else, they haven’t had a single thought. Their eyes haven’t yet opened, they know nothing about the sky that’s waiting. Or the thousands, the millions of trees. They don’t even know they have wings.

And just like that, like a simple neighborhood event, a miracle is taking place.

.Mary Oliver, 1935-2019

As we start a new year at Forest Play, may we remember to open our eyes and notice all the miracles in nature. Thanks to Anita, our Wellness Leader and one of our Lunchtime Play Leaders, for her words of wellness and the poem. If you would like to share a poem or a resource about nature, or learning in nature that you think our learning community would enjoy please let us know.

What's Next?

We will continue to welcome our new families on our first Monday. We will continue to explore nature, and learn more about ourselves and each other as we intentionally build upon the Fall 2023 session's learning community. After letters S, A, & T this coming week we will progress to P, I, & N. (for older children we look at the different ways these sounds come together as we collect words to use in our language, vocabulary and writing. e.g delicious, nest, splash, pressure,) We will continue to notice patterns in nature, creating structures with different materials, and discovering new curiosities through play!

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