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Jan.19 Week 2

Updated: Jan 22

Another beautiful winter wonderland welcomed our 2nd week at Forest Play! Colder temperatures gave us more time inside our cozy warming hub to share time, stories and ideas. We aim to organize a meeting circle during each session to provide an opportunity for children to have a voice, to be seen and heard in planning our time together; sharing their thoughts, feelings or ideas, and a time to connect and build community.

What happened?

Monday AM children created snow angels and ate lots of snacks! Big stories were shared during circle time and detailed games were invented such as 'Doctor' and 'Run the Jewels'. They played lava tiger/hospital / bakery in the five-trunk oak area. Sled and tree climbing were happening on the hill straight along the path. They also had fun pulling patients on sleds, creating medicinal potions while in various role-play scenarios!

Monday's PM group travelled to Asia on an intricately designed ship with some gorgeous sunshine leading the way! Different shadows are noticed and designs shared as children connect their sleds in different ways. You can feel the joy in the video below. A nice playful way to welcome back our Lead Teacher Ian.

Exhaustion sunk in after the exciting trip to Asia (mostly the teachers, Ian and Chey, from pulling 6 kids at once). They chose to have “square time”, because some kids didn’t feel like circle time. Ian read a book & the children were all very excited by the story. Afterwards, they shared how they felt & what their favourite part was. The teachers led a mindfulness game: while playing music they silently passed around a sock with something in it, each turn the person closed their eyes to feel the sock and guess what was inside…. fun guesses like simply sock, seed, treasure, or diamond! It was a flower 🌺

Outdoors, the children transformed into monkeys in the tree or taking care of a baby.

Our Tuesday AM group made a pie that could turn them into different animals which continued into a game of animal tag. They went for a nice walk and discovered new spaces for sledding!

During circle time Cassie read a book and then they had a dance party! Check out their moves!

The afternoon included more exploring and climbing of vines, the children cut back some branches that didn't seem safe. Some of the children made castles and planted gardens! During circle time they listened to each other's stories and played another mindfulness game. Animal tag continued to be a game they would go back to throughout the day. Wednesday's popular game was 'What time is it Mr. Wolf?' with lots of sledding. Children spent time listening to birds and drawing animals in the tent. They practiced taking turns with another sensory game to guess the object.

The children also spent some time together practicing outdoor skills with different types of tools! Mini saws, hammers, and rope tying are skills they continue to build upon from the Fall program.

Thursday's play included sledding, vine games, tree hunting and drawings. We appreciate Gwen's sister, Ciara who volunteers her time to play with us! Many others use the public Nature Park for walking dogs and exploring the park and we often cross paths and welcome the shared time and space. This day another child joined in our game! Time was spent discussing and identifying animal tracks and the teachers were impressed with how much the kids knew! Cool-coloured pastel drawing was explored together. Outside, the snow bakery was up and running and lots of sledding and running from wolves. The group went on a big loop walk through the woods and also played hide-and-seek.

The older kids had a fabulous first Wednesday together. The group explored different areas throughout Sandy Beach Park and returned to their home base to build and shovel more of the shelter. Marion brought bubbles to see if they would freeze. The children ended with snowball fights and sliding. Some conversations are happening in French in this group and some shared time to talk about the indigenous land.

What does it mean?

The extra cold days brought additional time for transition with the new space and environment. Extra time indoors brought more opportunities for children to gain the confidence to express their feelings, ideas and stories. Mindfulness engagements provide quiet time for children to focus on their senses and how their body responds. The children continue to be integral contributors to the expanding dynamics and energy of the group.

A variety of interactions unfold as the children lead the way in their play, and explore further into the park, with discussions about the animal tracks, innovative games, and stories shared. This additional week together allows teachers to further connect, observe and engage with the children to better understand their fears, interests and ways of expressing emotions as they play independently and interact with others.

The domains of Literacy, Language, Math, Science, and Social Studies continue to be naturally weaved into the children's freedom of play, wonder and interests. Children use strategic, creative and critical thinking skills as they design a variety of useful sculptures, ways of transporting and interactive games. They become more open-minded in their thinking as they learn how to collaborate to achieve a common goal. Different animal tracks and plant life provide provocations for imaginative role play as well as learning about the animals in the area. Children notice the sounds of different birds and are learning to identify familiar sounds. Self-regulation strategies continue to be practiced to navigate through various ways of expressing emotions, handling conflict and monitoring their own sounds.

Children continue to play in parallel, associative or cooperative/collaborative, depending on their development, character, or interest. See the image below that shows some typical benchmarks for the different stages of play. Note that this is a guide to identify the different types of play that are developmentally appropriate to be seen. However, a four or five-year-old can still be seen in solitary play or as a spectator and it doesn't mean they are digressing in development, but simply capable of choosing different types of roles in their play. Children navigate and explore the different stages depending on their comfort with the situation, the environment and who they might be interacting with. By creating a safe space, children feel open to experiment and take risks with play and they might choose to step back when appropriate. Witnessing how the children respond, critically think and move in and out of this magical intersection of choice and development is remarkable. We are reminded of the innate capabilities of all children to imagine, be creative and interact with others during play regardless of their age.

What's Next?

Connections with ourselves, each other, and nature continue to be built in harmony with our curriculum goals. Engaging activities continue to be planned for each week to ignite interests and interact with the surrounding environment. Mapping out the area with children and naming common landmarks might be a choice offered this week.

For a more in-depth look at our curriculum outline and the books we read each week, click on the LINK HERE.

This coming week's temperatures are predicted to be warmer which will allow us to explore the different textures in the snow and animals or their tracks that might come and join in our play! We are intrigued by the anticipation of our adventures together!

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These pictures are amazing! The dance party and "square time" made me giggle 😄😄 love reading these stories. ❤️

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