We had a fabulous first week together at RTH! Over the next few weeks we plan to really focus on establishing boundaries and routines. This update will walk you through our routines and the shared experiences we had over our first week.
After drop off students enjoy some free play followed up by storing their belongings under the gazebo where everything is well sheltered. We make adjustments to our clothing and footwear and take time to apply sunscreen if it's a sunny morning. Next students hear the beat of our First Nations drum, and they follow the beat to where our morning meeting will take place. During our morning meeting we check-in with thumbs up, sideways, or down. When their are individuals with thumbs down to start the day, we work together to support them throughout the day. Students did an excellent job of this during the first week. We introduced ourselves as well and some students chose their nature names. Nature names must be local plants, trees, flowers, or animals that we as individuals identity with. For example, I'm Red-tailed Hawk because I like to observe from afar before I narrow in. I also appreciate the freedom of these strong and majestic birds. And, not going to lie, I would love to be able to fly! Over the next while students will select their nature names and we will narrow in on the qualities that they identify with. Next clothing and safety check occurs. Thank you to all for setting the students up for success by providing the extra layers, additional clothing, extra footwear, hats, and sunscreen that were necessary for the weather we experienced this week. Everyone was well prepared!
Next it's time to get moving! We will have a morning hike everyday at RTH. During the hike many learning opportunities are incorporated. This week we tied in nature identification, nature detective tasks, framed nature collages, and Leave No Trace principles. Lots of learning occurs on the move! We often end at an apple tree and pick one if we would like it for a snack. If not, we get into snacks that we brought and have a drink so we are ready for either Music, Art, or Journals.
Music was a hit this week! Lily of the Valley (Mrs. Beattie) is planning to join us alternating Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Fridays. This will allow all groups to have the amazing experience of Music in the Woods! Preschoolers can look forward to the experience next year, and will focus on art and literature in the meantime.
We always have a Story of the Day. This week many groups heard The Kissing Hand. Chester Racoon was nervous about his first day at Forest School. But once he got started, that feeling disappeared and he loved the experience. Older groups heard a true historical story. In the summer of 1914 in a village in Ontario, there was a forest fire that devastated the village and the forest surrounding it. The happy ending came when all of the people of the village and the animals of the forest came together and stood side-by-side in the lake - the only safe place as the fire roared. Wolves stood beside deer, bears waded beside fish, and people stood shoulder to shoulder with moose. All survived unharmed and the hotel the boy lived in was unharmed. It was a very powerful story.
Some groups began our sit spot routine. This is a time for quiet individual reflection. Sit spots often brings us to lunch and Thanksgiving.
During our afternoons, Red-winged Blackbird (Miss Grimmer) and I were thrilled that all groups got to discover our Nature Surprise! Ask your child why fish rely on the forest? Also ask what they learned about the lifecycle of a Salmon. It was an amazing learning opportunity for students to see all parts of this cycle first hand! After the hike up the hill, we read Salmon Forest which explains this lifecycle in great detail. This will be the focus for our journals next week!
We end our days with free / unstructured play before pick up.
Thank you all for an amazing first week at RTH! Days like these would not be possible without you our supportive parents, our dedicated staff and volunteers, and the students themselves who are the life of the program. Thank you all, this is going to be an incredible journey we are on together!