Our parent's newsletter from January had a lot of great information that we wanted to share with our friends and families in the community.
Read about our mornings at Illahee State Park with our class.
Our goal for the kids when we part from their caregivers in the morning is to set off and acclimate to being outside. Our class has experimented with going on a hike first thing, but our default has been to go directly to the lower shelter of our main classroom area and establish our boundaries. Once we have done this, the children have been diving directly into interest-led discovery alongside their peers. We may play small games centered on sensory development like listening and looking (or painting with our mouths as we discovered was the optimal way to put paintbrush to canvas this month), but before we know it, we are gathering around the stump circle where we have our snack to refuel, listen to a story, and warm up with hot tea and hot water bottles.
After snack and story we go into our sit spot routine where the kids are invited to use their senses to be calm and still in their own space; observing their place and connecting with their surroundings. We then gather and invite the children to come back to us with their findings and share their observations and any found items with the group.
In our first month, the first part of our day and the last part of our day is free play time. As we move into the next month, we will be beginning our day with a hike instead of going down to our central location for the rest of our day before heading back to the shelter for pick up time.
Core routines are the activities that we do every day. They are skills that are practiced day in and day out and have the potential to create the foundation for the kids’ time outside. We encourage you to carry on these routines at home for additional practice. The routines listed below are just the ones that we started with this month, but we will be building new ones in February!
Nature journals are an opportunity for children to document something from their day; it may look like, for some kids who are not as interested in putting pencil to paper, a dictation from a mentor in the class based on a conversation they are having with the kiddo, or a simple taping of specimens onto paper. This routine, now at the end of the day might be moved to after sit spot time so that the information is fresh in their mind. As it is right now, at the end of the day the kids really just want to climb and run around before their caregivers pick them up!
Wonder Questions make up the meaty “learning” portion of our day. It lays the foundation for curiosity and questions that kids can conjure and create when they are outside. In the months to come this will also be where we introduce the topic for the week. The mentor’s job during this time together is to set some items in the middle of our fire circle and ask wonder questions, sometimes prefacing with a story about the origin, sometimes not: “ I wonder where this came from,” “ I wonder how it got its shape,” and “ I wonder if it can be used for anything.” The responses that come from this time together is my favorite part of the day!