May has flown by and the kids have grown incredibly confident with our learning area's boundaries. Friendships in class are also strengthening and with that comes a whole host of skills to learn: compromise, self-awareness, being clear about likes and dislikes with the use of language, inviting others to join in creative play—and accepting the answer. Given the two areas of development above, we saw a lack of official guidelines helped the kids find their boundaries both in the forest and with one another. As most of you are aware: ASK is being used in the classroom: Adult (can an adult see me?), Safe (is what I'm doing safe for myself and others?), and Kindness (am I being kind?). This mantra is a great tool to start a discussion with kids in those moments where a solution needs to be found.
We have seen new life popping up everywhere, kids are tuned into what is happening in the bird's nest that we found under the shelter roof, they are watching some kind of berry grow on the main climbing tree, and observing some really frisky squirrels. With the growth of the natural world around us, it has been such a privilege to see the kids develop new skills and grow more and more confident in their abilities!
This month we spent time on caterpillars, both on the beach and in the forest. We began our time on caterpillars by forming playdough into a caterpillar shape and then adding details with forest debris. Some of the kiddos really got into this, some not so much. However, when I was comparing our human body composition to the caterpillar's with the use of a diagram, most of the children were engaged and some bewildered that we share some similar body parts!
The kids really came together to care for caterpillars on the beach where we showed them a live caterpillar in a specimen container. Giving a living creature to a group of little ones proved to be quite the challenge for our class leaders to restrain the overzealous and make room to include the quieter kiddos who prefer to hang back. The kids worked together to find food and sticks for the caterpillar to eat and climb on. We saw how they moved and tried to emulate them—which, it turns out, is a difficult abdominal exercise!
The mesh screening on the cage allowed the kids to see the difference between the prolegs and legs on the caterpillar. When we found the yellow-spotted millipede we assumed it was a caterpillar until we realized that there were no prolegs but rather, tons of legs from head to toe (if you'll forgive the expression)!
The Ranger's Visit
This month, we had both of Illahee State Park's Rangers come and visit our program. Ranger Murray has been a huge help in getting our program settled at Illahee, and is himself an advocate for outdoor education—his own children in an outdoor program. He was thrilled to be able to come and share his knowledge about plants, leaves, and trees in the forest. With recent interest in making fires in our group, Ranger Murray was able to explain how fires work in the forest how it is that they spread so quickly and without us being able to see it. He reviewed the reason for rules surrounding fires in the parks, and why some of the year they are not allowed to happen at all. Our main activity was with play dough, where a core group of about seven kids stayed engaged the whole time. His idea was to create the different parts of the leaves with the green play dough, but as you can imagine, their brilliant little minds were bursting with creativity. The Rangers allowed the kids to give them a tour of the different areas in our zone.
We are hoping in the fall that Ranger Murray will be available for a forage walk with the kids!
Moving and Sitting
The kids have blown us all away with their development in large muscle movements! Every. Single. One. With the addition of the hammock, the kids have enjoyed the swinging sensation, and sensation of being suspended. They are challenging themselves with climbing the clay cliffs and the giant log on the beach. Kid's challenging themselves on our regular climbing tree looks different for everyone, but there has been a recent addition of dangling from one of the branches before timing a careful drop. Climbing the mossy tree with ropes tied around it has been a favorite, and we played a new game that involves running in the directions of North, East, South, and West.
Perhaps the greater challenge has been our time in "sit spots," but here there has been a lot of development in that arena as well. Only this last week of May, we had an excellent retelling of his time alone by Seamus, and it brought tears to Reanne and Robin. When others come back from their time of observation, they are not keen on talking until their peers start and then that sparks their memories and desire to share and be a part of the conversation.
Coming up in June
Monthly Community Guest
When: June 5
Diane from the Audubon Society on Bainbridge Island is coming to our class for the largest chunk of time we have had from any of our visitors! We will be building nests, talking about qualities in bird song, and going on a hike in search of birds. It will be an excellent day so don't miss it!
Year-End Community Group Hike
When: June 28,10 AM - 1 PM
Where: Green Mountain: Gold Creek Entrance
What to expect: This will be a light paced hike that will take us by a beaver pond. We will stay together as a group and have some time together as a learning community. This is a great chance to spend some time with all those parents you have had not gotten the chance to get to know this year.
Don't forget to pack sunscreen and water for your kiddo. And if you could please make sure they have gone to the bathroom before they leave for class, that would be so helpful for us so we can hike down the beach without having to come back right away.
Sunday Evenings Emails in June:
Watch for emails that describe what is going on during the week ahead. This is something that we are hoping to implement in the come new school year and I would like to know if it has value for you and your family in engaging further with what your kiddo is learning in class--or just know what is going on in class!