We have had much opportunity to engage in mud puddle play this month. It has rained so much that there has consistently been deep water for the children to splash in and jump in. It has been a great test for their supposedly waterproof clothing! A big project this month was building a sturdy bridge across the mud puddle. This required a lot of teamwork and cooperation to move heavy doug fir branches for the supports and various other long logs for the planks. All the classes have enjoyed walking across the bridge, challenging their balancing skills and practicing walking on uneven ground. It has also led to games of “fishing” from the bridge, using sticks with doug fir cones tied to them. Often, we then make a pretend fire to cook the fish.
The children have also spent many days digging out an elaborate river channel to pour buckets of water in and see how fast it reaches the mud puddle. They have also been constructing sturdy dams and challenging themselves to build so no water can pass through. One day some children developed a waterfall at the end of their “river”. These activities have provided opportunities to talk about water flow and erosion. Of course, with the proliferation of mud there is an increase in the “baking” of various mud treats like cakes and cookies. It has been so wet this month that we discovered some decomposing wood that was so saturated we could squeeze water out of it! The children really enjoy licking the raindrops hanging from the tips of the leaves of various plants.
The children have engaged in a lot of imagination games this month with the dominant theme of baby animals, usually big cats like cheetahs and lions although we have been joined this month by unicorns and penguins. There has been some lovely spontaneous story telling moments with the children either making up stories or weaving stories from their home life. We have played a lot of our nature games this month, especially “Howl and Seek” where one group hides and makes their animal sounds until the other group finds them using their ears as well as their eyes to seek. Forest Theater has been popular this month with the children making up a variety of spontaneous plays which usually involve dances.
We have encountered some very cold days this month leading us to build a campfire. The children enjoy roasting salal leaves until crunchy and then eating them. The flavor is quite remarkable. Our forest tea blend this month has consisted mostly of salal leaves, sword fern bits, cedar tips, huckleberry leaves, alder catkins and doug fir branches.
The children have enjoyed looking for insects, worms and millipedes under rocks and bark. We talked about how all the insects are sleeping for the winter in hibernation. The temperatures have been warm enough to wake a few of those insects and we have seen both moths and “fairy bugs” flying about in the forest. We have enjoyed moving the topsoil (debris) to discover the jumping bug decomposers that live underneath. We have observed other signs of spring such as new leaf buds on the elderberry, salal, alder, salmonberry, huckleberry and hazelnut, as well as new growth of miner’s lettuce, cleavers and nettles.
Interestingly enough, we also had snow this month and this gave us the opportunity for hands-on exploration of snow, slush and ice. We made little snow people, ice cakes and ice castles. The snow was covered with windfall debris and we could really observe what was falling from the trees in each area of the forest as it really contrasted with the white of the snow.
By Erin Kenny ©2012