Hazy skies and a bit of ash from distant wildfires greeted us on our very first day of Fox Walkers Forest Kindergarten for the 2017-18 school year. Luckily our Tuesday/Thursday class truly enjoyed getting to know each other and the forest at Fairhaven Park, despite the unsavory air quality!
On Tuesday, we began our day together by playing a fun game called "Run Rabbits Run” with the parents. Afterwards we transitioned to our movement circle, where we followed our friends Moon Bird and Running Deer along on a journey through the forest. During their journey they paddled their kayaks on a lake; observed Wild Geese, a Great Blue Heron and a busy Squirrel; and were amazed by the twirling, swirling Autumn leaves falling from the trees.
After movement circle, we made our way to Story Tree, where we heard the tale of Moon Bird and Running Deer’s encounter with two friendly forest creatures— an owl and a deer— who offered them guidance on how to get to know the forest better. Moon Bird and Running Deer each found themselves a “Sit Spot” where they listened and observed the forest. Afterwards they shared their Sit Spot stories with each other, and they each felt like they really connected with the woods in a deeper way because of their Sit Spot time!
After story, we made our way to the woods, where we examined coyote scat along the way. We also “met” two different types of blackberry plants. Himalayan and Cutleaf (aka "Evergreen") Blackberry offered us their tasty ripe fruits and we reciprocated by each gifting the plants a piece of hair from our heads. Thanks, Blackberries!
We played a fun game called “Hiker in the Forest”, spent lots of time “blasting off” down Blast Off Hill, and made a “squirrel pizza” for our furry forest friends. We then enjoyed our lunches at Squirrel Den before heading back to the meadow to reunite with parents. It was a sweet first day!
On Thursday, we kicked off our time together with a fun and invigorating game of “Fox Tails”. After movement circle, we enjoyed a Moon Bird and Running Deer puppet show under Story Tree.
We then made our way through the forest, where we encountered a Cooper's Hawk (!), nibbled blackberries, and looked for “mud monsters” along the way. Unfortunately the mud monsters were all dried up, but we did come across some slugs, beetles, and worms under logs. We ran up and down “Blast Off Hill” once again, which has quickly become a favorite spot for this crew!
We played a fun and sneaky hiding game called "Raven Spy", then wandered the path to explore new places. On the way we came across a Northern Red-Legged Frog, who looked thirsty for some water!
We found a sweet spot for lunch and settled in there to enjoy our yummy provisions. Some students played “Stump the Teacher” a little lunch-time sensory challenge that involves us teachers keeping our eyes closed and trying to guess what each student is having for lunch. We use our sense of smell and hearing (by listening to the sounds that the food makes as it’s being munched on by the student) for clues. Sometimes our guesses are spot-on. Other times our guesses are totally off, and we are completely “stumped”. Either way, the rules of the game are always the same: whether or not you stump the teacher, you must always take a bite of your lunch!
After lunch we climbed over logs, built a faerie house, and (safely) “chopped” branches off of dead logs using strong sticks. This Fox Walkers crew truly loves to physical challenges, and the forest is the ultimate “play gym”. Before we headed home, we paused to dissect an owl pellet that I found under a nearby Cedar tree, and discovered some skulls and bones of a couple of rodents amongst the fur!
Pat and I are grateful for a wonderful first week with our Fairhaven Fox Walkers crew, and we look forward to seeing you all next Tuesday! Hooray for this much-needed rain!