Well, winter has arrived! At least the cold temperatures of winter have. Here at Nature School we are hoping to receive some more snow to allow for some fort and snowman building but, even with the little bit of snow we have, we are very much enjoying our outdoor time all together. I was so thrilled to see the beautiful smiles of all of the children when we returned to Nature School after a restful holiday break.
The last two weeks have been filled with stories of our holiday experiences – hikes, cross country skiing, sledding, big family dinners, visits with cousins, grandparents and aunts and uncles, and cozy times at home. All of this reminds me of how magical the holidays are for children.
Nature hikes have become a big part of our routine at school. As each week passes we notice differences in the property and in the forest. Different types of animal tracks, different animals smells, different bird activity, more ice or less ice on the little stream we cross – all of these are things we observe on our hikes. Of course, a sled or two always accompany our journeys as there is just enough snow to enjoy a few rides down the small hill we have discovered in the forest.
Last week we talked a lot about snow and ice. We collected both, and melted it by the fire. It was interesting to see which melted first and what we found in the melt water afterward. It made us all think a little harder about eating the snow and ice from the ground – though it is always tempting!
We also made some pretty cool snow volcanoes. The kids were amazed by the reaction that two such common household ingredients, baking soda and vinegar, can have when mixed together.
The theme of this week was trees. Winter time is an interesting time to observe trees. Without their leaves, it is easier to see the structure of trees, and the nests and holes they make contain. We learned about the different parts a tree, discussed why they are so important to us, picked out our favourite trees on the property and measured the diameter of them. We discovered that the largest tree on our property is a Norway Spruce tree that is took about six children with outstretched arms to hug – or about 340 cm. Using a crude estimation, we determined that it could be as old as 145 years old! We will continue to observe and discuss trees as the seasons change.
Our days are very enjoyable, and always include a number of great games that get us moving and keep us warm. When you pick up your children at the end of the day, I know they may have cold, red cheeks, but I hope they have warm smiles!