i often feel like the public school system here in ontario lacks a natural component to it’s curriculum. yes, they talk about the environment and spend time outside even on some pretty cold days, but i wish there was more time spent in nature, exploring the natural world around them. so when i found out a high school friend of mine, brandy, was starting a forest school i jumped at the opportunity to sign my lion up! because it’s in another city he only goes for one afternoon a week (instead of the two afternoon’s currently offered).
this smiling beauty below is brandy.
the kids are all between the ages of 3 and 5. the group meets and then walks along some lovely trails to their designated site. the trail is shared with dog walkers and cross country skiers.
below is a picture of a quick stop for a story during our walk. here brandy introduced that days theme to the kids, as they all sat on a fallen tree and listened. none of the kids complained about stopping, about being cold, or about carrying their own backpacks full of the essentials, much similar to a bug out bag. AMAZING!
the “classroom” site is amazing! there are several teepee/ wigwam style forts that were already built in the forest. there are beautiful tall trees as far as the eye can see. the kids are allowed to climb the forts and explore the nearby area. the kids enjoyed snack, had another story and discussed various elements of that days theme.
i love watching the kids enjoying the natural world. they were so involved in it without any effort or encouragement from adults. they recognized things differently from us grown-ups creating interesting discussions about why things are the way they are.
kids are so open and free.
on the day i was volunteering we focused on our senses; we listened for birds, tasted snow, touched sticks and looked for interesting things in our environment. brandy encourages the kids to explore, question and get right into things. she follows the kids’ lead on things making the learning about them and not about what she assumes they might be interested in. so awesome!
the peace and calm of the forest school is what i really noticed. classrooms in buildings are full of posters, art, colours, shapes… there are almost no blank walls, everything is covered with some kind of stimulus. here in the woods the stimulus is not garish in colour or forced down the children’s throats. the natural world invites them in, gently stimulating their senses and enticing them for deeper learning. even though the kids explore the same forts, the subtle changes that occur over time is what makes outdoor learning so amazing.
below are pictures of the ice experiments the kids had created the previous thursday. they poured water in containers with some acorns and leaves to see what would happen. we hung them in the trees so the sun could catch them. so lovely!
if you’re curious and interested in brandy’s beautiful school, wildflowers forest school, check out her facebook page HERE. there are lots more pictures and tales of the adventures they get into! currently, there is no website, but it’s in the works!