In the days leading up to our first day of Forest Kindergarten, I wondered what the children and teachers would discover together. Earthsong offers us an abundance of ways to grow our minds, hearts, and bodies- and on Friday, our adventure finally began!
From the very start, Earthsong offered us a way to wake-up our bodies and minds. At drop-off, you may have noticed us jumping, running, and diving our hands down into the grass. Not long after the first children arrived, we discovered small crickets on almost every blade of grass. If we kicked the grass, they would jump to another blade. If we ran, we could watch dozens fly up ahead of us, and quickly fly down just out of our reach! Some children decided to change their method and stopped running. Instead, they slowed their bodies and tried to sneak up on the crickets to catch them. One child was successful, and shared his catch with all the other children who were interested! Before we even came together formally as a group, the children were beginning to get to know each other and the land.
Of course, being in the forest is an integral part of Forest Kindergarten. Children knew this and expressed their excitement and desire to enter the forest very soon after our opening circle time! We teachers were eager to get into the forest, too, and enjoyed the walk with the kids to our first site, Root World. This site is magical, and children worked with the magic as they played under the roots of a large downed tree or in the small ravines. One group spent a long time building a bridge to cross a shallow ravine. They had to work together to lay a large stick across the gap, and then they tested its strength by slowly crawling across it. I even heard children counting down from 5, and cheering proudly when the stick held a child for the entire count! In another area of Root World, children took up residence below the spreading roots of a downed tree and ultimately opened a store. One child who slipped and fell was able to purchase a nature band-aid (a leaf) from the store, and felt much better! Helping animals was also on our play list, and beneath the hanging branches of a slender tree, a home for kitties was built. Children gathered leaves for food, and picked the best sticks to create places for the kitties to sleep. In each of these play scenarios, children grew their hearts, minds and bodies. Moving big sticks, or climbing up slopes built the muscles of their legs and arms. Cheering each other and providing playful care for the bumps and bruises earned from hard play built empathy and sealed friendships amongst our group. And, the more children touched and looked at the leaves and other parts of the forest during their play, the more they noticed and grew their understanding of the flora that grows at Earthsong.
We wrapped up our first day with a short trip to the garden, and taking time to share lunch, stories, and forest treasures together. You may have seen our tray of leaves, berries, acorns, and rocks! Each week, we will take time to share and listen to our reflections from the day. Sharing is optional, and your child may not always have a story or object to share- but we will always be ready to listen when they do!
We look forward to trying out a new forest site next week, and continuing to describe and reflect on our adventures together in Athens Forest Kindergarten. We will be ready to greet your children rain or shine next Friday morning, and to send them home dirty and tired Friday afternoon!