Saturday, January 23, 2016

"Forest Friday's": A Natural Recipe for Fun!

This past Friday marked the start of a new and exciting chapter in our program: "Forest Friday's!" After the incredible learning experience last Spring as part of the Ministry of Education's Pilot Project entitled "A Week in the Forest," (click here if you have yet to read that post), I couldn't help but get excited to launch this part of our program every Friday! 

Our students' love for the outdoors is contagious and we are so fortunate to have our magical forest within walking distance from our school. It truly has become a "magical" place for learning and one that our students have a genuine love and care for! 


As a teaching team, we want our "Forest Friday's" to be an opportunity that extends on the learning happening within the walls of our classroom while at the same time, help our students foster a loving connection with nature. From "Sit Spots" and experiments to exploration and more, our "Forest Friday's" continues to be a natural recipe for fun! 


Using our outdoor space as a canvas for learning, the rich dialogue, discoveries and natural curiosity helps bring our forest space to life! The following images are only a snapshot of the incredible moments captured from our first Forest Friday! 



Our "Sit Spots" are always how we begin our walk to our magical forest. This activity is one that we find most valuable for our students as they develop a connection to nature and particular surroundings since we return to the same place each time. They were able to notice changes both in nature as well as in our surrounding environment that made for a wonderful start to our "Forest Friday!"


Having not done "Sit Spots" in the winter yet this year, our students had lots of observations and conversations around what was different and what was the same in comparison to the Fall season. 


In connection to our wonderings about animals in winter, one student decided that making bird feeders would be a lovely gift to leave for our forest friends! So...we didn't waste any time gathering the materials we needed and getting to work! Most recipes called for peanut butter, but since we are a nut-free school, we made sure to purchase bird seed that didn't contain any traces of nuts and used shortening to make the feed stick. 






Below, our students enjoyed exploring some simple artistic experiences that involved food colouring in water. From painting the snow to colour mixing, our students definitely made their mark in our forest! 





Our students even conducted their own experiment as scientists by painting collected pieces of ice that they found around our forest space and began to notice changes as the colours absorbed into the ice. This experience lent itself perfectly for one of our other scientist provocations in the forest that invited students to explore what material would melt the ice the fastest; salt or sugar! 




Students then began hunting for "hidden" pieces of ice and became quite observant in how the materials were reacting. This group of scientists didn't hesitate to get close enough to hear the ice making "cracking" sounds as the sugar and salt got to work. 


Some students noticed that there were animal footprints around our magical forest and began to make predictions around what animal they came from! Rabbits? Squirrels? Chipmunks? We will continue to research back in our classroom to see if we can answer our wondering...


Some students also looked for magical "forest fairies" - their excitement was contagious as they checked every hole in every tree, looked closely in empty logs and even examined the ice for the "evil ice fairies." One student thinks that there was a bear hibernating across the creek and his job is to protect our "forest fairies." - We can't wait to bring materials into our magical forest next week to continue exploring their interests! 
  

Until next week...stay tuned!