What a wonderful first month back at school! The weather has been unseasonably warm and we’ve had a lot of barefoot days this fall. Chickadees and towhees have been visiting us and we’ve been hearing frogs croaking, squirrels chattering, ravens calling. We’ve had opportunities to study spider’s webs as they glisten in the sun. Mushrooms and molds are out in abundance now that the forest floor has taken on that perma-damp of autumn. For their safety, we tell the children not to eat any of the forest mushrooms although there are actually quite a few edible ones. We have been seeing an unusual mushroom relative, a life form called “wolf’s milk slime”. It is a striking orange sphere found in clusters.
We have been eating copious amounts of evergreen huckleberries. On many days we make our warm forest tea from various parts of the plants we encounter on our trail walks. During this season, we mostly include both berries and leaves of the huckleberry, leaves of salal and branches of red cedar and Doug fir
We’ve talked a lot this month about the parts of trees and plants: the roots, trunk, crown, bark, leaves and sap. We have talked about how deciduous trees lose all their leaves in the winter and evergreen trees do not. We have also explored the concept of decomposing as the kids pull bark off of downed trees and crumble up spongy old logs. We also put different types of leaves into a circle shape on the ground so we can watch how they decompose. We have talked about how soil or dirt is made of everything that falls on the ground. As we dig, we can see the different layers of dirt and what they are made of.
As many of the insects (and plants) go into hibernation, the kids are already learning the different seasons of nature. They can feel the change and we talk about what the differences are between summer and fall. We are talking about what it means when something is “in season”.
Since the air has been warm, we have been making some very creative forest decorations and some elaborate sand castles. We have been performing many plays and dances at the Forest Theater, as well as telling salal leaf book stories around our pretend campfire. There has been wonderful imaginative play on the theme of Family, with each child encouraged to pick their own role and the kids creating a warm inclusive play environment. This has lead to ever-increasing cooperation, teamwork, and helpfulness among each day’s group.
By Erin Kenny ©2010