We had a great week talking more about forests. We went on some exploratory hikes examining all of the living things that we could find in the forest. We read "The Hedgehog Leaves Home" and pretended to be forest animals, We read "A Log's Life" and investigated fallen logs in various stages of decay. We read "The Tree in the Ancient Forest" and learned about cedar trees, and the importance of cedars for this ecosystem, particularly for the first people who lived in these pnw forests. As I write this Ginger and Arielle are leading everyone in roasting apples and pineapples over an open fire started from cedar bark strips.
The Conifer class did some really nice work in their journals this week. Each Conifer student has their own journal and they have been making some interesting picture entries, dictating to a teacher about their pictures, and we teachers have been recording on the page the words that go along with their pictures. Then they have been practicing writing their own names with their entries. Most friends have been working on tracing their names when written by a teacher. We have been talking about the names of the letters in our names, and practicing holding pencils appropriately to give us the best grip for control. On these rainy winter days we will continue to work on journals from time to time. At the end of the year each student will take their journal home.
Next week is our last week before the winter holiday break! We will spend the week talking about the upcoming winter solstice and preparing for our winter spiral walk on Friday eve.
The winter spiral walk is a Waldorf inspired solstice tradition. We build a spiral on the ground at the park out of downed branches. On Friday eve the children will take turns walking through the spiral into the center carrying an unlit candle lantern. At the center, they will light their candle and carry it back out and add it to the other lights in the spiral. The ceremony is conducted in silence, and in the dark. The spiral path is lit by candles for them to see their way. We spend the week and the practice period leading up to the Friday evening event talking about darkness, winter, and about celebrating light in the dark. The winter solstice, after all, is the longest night of the year, but it also marks the return of the light. This dark and cold season invites us to go inward, to be introspective, and to share our inner warmth and light with each other. The winter spiral ceremony is meant to be an embodiment of those sentiments. Weather permitting we hope and plan to have this ceremony outside at the park in our usual play area, but if weather is too wet and windy we will need to reconfigure at the last minute and have the event indoors at the school. So keep your fingers crossed for good weather and be aware that there may be a last minute change of venue.
The start time for the event is 5:30. All family members etc. are welcome to attend. Please try to be there by 5:30 at the latest. We will gather in silence. Parents and family will be asked to wait and watch in one location, and the children will gather in a different location with the teachers to wait their turn to enter the spiral. After walking through the spiral they will return to their places with the teachers until everyone is finished. This is a lovely, peaceful event, but it does take place in the dark and the children are encouraged to walk through the spiral alone. We encourage everyone to participate, but don't feel concerned if your child is feeling too shy or anxious. It's ok if they need help and it's ok if they don't want to participate. After everyone who wants to has gone through the spiral we will ring the bell and then the children will sing a few of their favorite songs from our recent studies. Then we will all have warm cider and cookies together. It's really a lovely event, we hope to see you there!
Welcome back from break, I hope that everyone had a lovely Thanksgiving. We ended up with a really exciting week at Fiddleheads to get us back in the routine. We moved on from our tree unit to studying the forest as a whole. We read the wonderful book "Fungus is Among Us', and went on a mushroom hunt. We also talked about how fungus is a 3rd life form, not plant and not animal, and how it is everywhere, living around and among and upon us. We pretended to be spores flying from a mushroom cap, and we made spore prints with the mushrooms that we found. We had an incredibly serendipitous day on Tuesday, when we found a pigeon kill site, probably captured and eaten by a raptor, and the kids and Ginger did much hunting for feathers and remains. We got to examine many different types of feathers from the bird's body and we talked about how the remains that we find and when where and how we find them can help us know the fateful story of what happened to that pigeon. We were really lucky to have Ginger's skills and insight to help us do this. We talked about predator prey relationships and the emotional paradox we find in examining those relationships; we feel sad for the pigeon but also happy for the hawk at the same time. Then we played a hawk pigeon predator prey chasing game that was great fun. We read the lovely book "Where Would I Be in and Evergreen Tree", which outlines the diversity of wildlife in one conifer tree habitat in a pnw forest, and talked about the diversity of wildlife that is present around us in the forest all the time, just hidden from our view. We then played camouflage, which is a game something like a forest school version of hide and seek. On Friday we made trail mix for snack! It's been lovely, dry, cool weather and we got to cover some ground in the park this week and enjoy the days. It was a good week.
We also added to the general excitement in the play yard by getting a puppy! My family just adopted Rocco, an 8 week old lab/shepherd mix. He's right on the level energy and enthusiasm wise with preschool play. He'll be coming out to play at brief intervals at outdoor time to socialize and try and learn some manners. It's pretty fun to have a puppy in the yard and it's a great gift to him to be able to interact with the kids and feel their joy and grow his own. Pretty much everyone is thrilled except Harper ;)
originally written on December 6th