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Jan 12. First Days of Winter Play!

Updated: Feb 16

"I love winter because we play in the snow!" as read in the book Why I Love Winter by Daniel Howarth. This was one of the many read-alouds we read this week, click on THIS LINK to see more.

Why do you love winter? I love the magical properties of snow — the crunching sound it creates beneath my feet, the tactile sensations as I touch it with my hands, and the exhilarating experience of sliding down slopes on a snowboard or sled.

Welcome to our Learning Story space. A Learning Story is a narrative aimed to paint a picture of the observed experiences that happened, what it means and planning forward. It recognizes a child’s everyday efforts as milestones in their continuous growth. It is a beautiful personal and pedagogical gift we enjoy sharing based on what our Forest Play Teachers observe, analyze, and interpret. The practice of Learning Stories originated in New Zealand's early childhood education system, to demonstrate how children learn in a particular context and in relationship to peers, adults, and the land. This style of documenting learning was a common practice we used in our teaching of early learners while living, teaching and leading schools in Asia. It is a natural fit with the philosophy of Hudson Forest Play where children are seen as fully competent human beings: creative, resourceful and capable of engaging with others. Read more by clicking on THIS LINK.

Our Learning Stories are written about the children as a whole group, sharing the experience from the week that happened. We aim to publish one learning story at the end of each week organized around three main headings: What Happened? What Does it Mean? and What's Next? We do our best to capture photos of all the children during moments of the day, however, our focus is not on photo taking, but on being present in each moment. So we share our apologies if you do not see your child in the photos, the images captured are samples of the play and adventures being experienced. This is a closed forum that is password-protected.

What Happened?

Snowfall transformed our time at Clarke Sydenham Nature Reserve, creating a canvas for the children to engage with the enchanting winter landscape. The new space became a playground for exploration and creativity, with activities ranging from tree climbing and snow pies to sledding, hide and seek, mushroom soup making, animal role-play, cupcake making, swinging, and, of course, lots of reading!

As the days unfolded, the children's enthusiasm for the snow reached new heights. By Thursday, entrepreneurial spirits emerged as they began selling and delivering their crafted snow pies before venturing into solo time and more sledding adventures. Our newest member, Cinta the puppy, was warmly welcomed, and the children eagerly learned how to care for his needs.

The communal tent on Le Nichoir's property served as a cozy hub for shared experiences, where we gathered to read stories and engage in formal meetings, exchanging ideas. The keen eyes of the children discovered various types of trees, berries, and even vines thriving beneath the snow cover.

Sledding emerged as a major highlight, with the children navigating diverse temperatures and sculpting the snow with boundless creativity. Outdoor games, initiated by both children and adults, brought a delightful mix of joy and occasional conflicts as natural materials were discovered, and emotions found expression.

Our environment provided ample opportunities for solo, parallel, and cooperative play, allowing children the freedom to choose how to spend their time and transition seamlessly between different types of play. Climbing trees, creating snowballs, role-playing as otters, or simply sitting beside a tree to chat with nature or imaginary friends—all these moments were woven together in a magical tapestry of exploration.

Teachers played a supportive role, gently nudging curiosity forward with questions like, "How does it feel to go further up the tree?" or "What do otters like to eat?" or "Let's see what we can find over here!" The air was filled with queries, fostering a sense of wonder and encouraging the children to think and explore.

In this winter wonderland, each child's unique journey unfolded, creating a truly magical experience that blended nature, play, and learning in harmony.

What does it mean?

The onset of a new season and space brings with it a period of transition and change for our community. As children and families acquaint themselves again with one another, along with our new guides, surroundings, and even a new furry friend, adjustments to a fresh routine and environment may and likely will induce stress. We do our best to create a safe space for children to openly express their emotions who are integral contributors to the group dynamics and energy. Each day brings a new dynamic and combination of children and there is a sense of familiarity in friendships from the season past.

Interactions unfold through various channels, encompassing play, exploration of the surroundings, discussions about the weather, shared time eating, and designated meeting times. Attentive teachers diligently observe and engage with the fears, joys, emotions, risky play, interests, and inquiries emerging directly and indirectly through the children's play. This wealth of information serves as a foundation for future learning activities and engagements, shaping our emergent curriculum.

Active exploration spans across diverse learning domains, including Literacy, Language, Math, Science, and Social Studies. These subjects are not visibly taught but are actively questioned, tested, practiced, and absorbed into the fabric of our playful experiences. Self-regulation strategies are being honed and shared, particularly as various emotions find expression and are navigated in distinctive ways.

Our learning journey extends beyond academic realms; it involves understanding how to interact with oneself, others, and nature with kindness and respect. Recognizing the significance of cultivating a safe learning community, we invest the necessary time to foster connections, ensuring that everyone feels safe, a sense of calm, not rushed, and interconnected for optimal learning outcomes.

Observing the intricate tapestry woven by the movement of play, the melody of voices, the hum of chatter, and the harmonious blend of sharing and laughter serve as a poignant reminder of the innate resourcefulness and capabilities of children in collaborative endeavours. Simply magical!

What's Next?

As our time together extends, more opportunities arise for playful interactions that strengthen our connections with ourselves, each other, and nature. Our dedicated teachers utilize their observations to meticulously plan engaging activities, igniting the children's interests and providing guidance for their collaborations. Regular reflections on safety measures lead to adjustments, ensuring a secure environment.

Our vision is simple: to empower children through a profound connection with nature. Our enduring mission is to enhance well-being by immersing children in the outdoors, where play, exploration, and learning intertwine every day. For a more in-depth look at our curriculum outline, you can explore it by clicking on the LINK HERE.

Remaining attuned to the child's lead, our teachers recognize them as capable individuals ready for adventure in nature's classroom. The anticipation is palpable for the unfolding of the coming week, promising more discoveries, shared experiences, wonderment, creativity, care and continued growth for each child in our vibrant community.

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