Greeting a New Year with New Friends

Today we reacquainted ourselves with Earthsong and with each other! Spending a sunny, but chilly day outside was the ideal way to welcome the new year, returning friends, and new friends!

Our Forest Kindergarten group has grown, and we welcomed 5 new friends on Friday! We are thrilled to have Charlotte, Cristian, August, Larkin, and Ellie join us to play in the forest. The teachers are excited to observe how new ideas and ways of play will emerge as our new children interact with our well-seasoned returners! We also anticipate the many ways in which our returning students will get to share their rich knowledge of the forest with our new friends. It is an exciting start, with so many opportunities for us all to grow.

When we got to Root World for our first hour of play, all the children quickly found a place to play. It was wonderful to see our new students quickly finding ways to play and making new friends with our returning students. Luke and Charlotte particularly took the opportunity to learn from each other. Luke found a way to ask Charlotte to play with him and showed her how to slide down a muddy bank. Charlotte encouraged Luke to keep playing, and took his advice on how to climb back up the bank using a tree root as a rope. They both delighted in this shared experience!

Much like our group, Root World was familiar to us but a little bit different and a little bit new after our 3 week break. While we sat on the trail eating snack, Amy asked the kids to look at Root world and see if it looked different. This was meant to help us get reacquainted with the place, but also notice things that were there that we had never seen before. We could see more of the sky, since the leaves were off the trees. We also noticed that some trees still had green leaves- our holly, or “power berry”, trees! We talked briefly about how some trees lose their leaves in winter, but others keep green leaves year round. Amy wonders how making these observations might impact how children perceive the place as it continues to change through the season.

After snack, some children wanted to continue their play at Root world with Amy while others took a hike with Sarah. The teachers are excited to have small group experiences with the kids after snack each week! It was fun for Amy to see how all the children in her small group eventually ended up playing together in the same small space. Sammy, Wendell, and Felix wanted to build a machine and fly on it amongst many downed limbs. Maddux and Cristian wanted to join, and the boys worked out jobs and seats for everyone on the machine. Eventually, Will, who had played on his own near the group  was drawn to the play and found his very own seat to ride on with the group!

We began a new ritual for lunch, having a shared meal of rice and beans together this week. We also began to establish a ritual of reflecting on our play time in the woods, and being thankful for the nature all around us. Eating and sharing together at Ayeli was a special feeling, and we are eager to see how this ritual grows with our group.

Winter is an interesting and wonderful time of year to think about growth. There is so much happening under the surface of things that we do not see. Perhaps, in the next few weeks, we will notice that there are buds on the trees that lost their leaves, hiding and protecting the new leaves growing inside. Or maybe we will discover a hidden world of insects hiding under leaves and bark, getting ready for warmer temperatures. Whatever our discovery might be, winter reminds us that even when we can't see it, growth is happening. The teachers know that there is so much unseen growth happening in the children at Forest Kindergarten. On our first day back, we got to see the start of new friendships and children re-learning the spaces and places of Earthsong. But we look forward to the many weeks ahead of us, and discovering what hidden growth has been happening amongst the children that has yet to reveal itself!