March 9, 2012

Dreamer and Lanie taking a break at Shevlin Park

We were gifted sun and warmth for our outing to Shevlin Park this Friday! We focused on predator/prey relationships, exploring our senses, learning about plants, and making nature journals. There was also plenty of space within the day as well for unplanned adventures, explorations, and discoveries. It was exciting to welcome new members to our Friday group, and I think everyone agreed it was FUN!

January 14, 2012

Robby's reflection of cedar tree experience

We focused our learning on cedar trees today, making a small offering, harvesting, making cedar tea, learning about Native American uses of cedar, and cedar’s connection to lightning. For our last activity, we each had turns being still and silent with a cedar tree for about three to five minutes. One student came back from this experience with quite the story to tell! He said, “The tree said it tickles when I try to touch its branches. It asked me if I could jump to the top of him and I said, ‘I’ll try!’ He asked what the offerings were that we gave to him.” He was so touched by the experience he decided it was what he wanted to draw about in his journal reflection.

December 16th, 2011

Robby holding up the pouch he earned

Today one of the mothers of the children hosted the class at her home so that we could build a fire in their backyard. I instructed the kids on the types and sizes of sticks they needed to gather. They were really excited to make a fire and warm up in the cold morning! We gathered all natural materials, using dried leaves and pine needles instead of newspaper for starter. I taught them how to build a fire, explaining that fire has a lot of power and it is something to respect and not play around with. The fire took a little while to get going without any paper, but eventually it was pretty big! The boys were then excited to roast some organic hotdogs.

I took a little bit of time to talk about fire’s role in ecology, asking them if they thought fire was good or  bad for forests. In general, they thought fire was a bad thing, so I explained to them that fire can actually be a healthy part of the environment. Some seeds, I explained, need fire in order to break through the outer shell start growing the plant.

As this group of boys has been doing these classes with me for a couple of months, I planned an activity that would honor them for being brave enough to participate. We made leather pouches out of naturally brain tanned leather and added power objects that represented their courage. One boy exclaimed, “This is the best present I’ve EVER gotten!” I think he felt this way because it was something he earned.

In our next activity, I put different titles of Native American myths on little sheets of paper. Then, I put the little pieces of paper in a bag and each boy picked a myth. As I read the myths, the boys acted out the story. The main character of each story was the boy who drew that story’s name out of the bag. We all had so much fun with this, and it was cool to watch the older boys become the directors of the play.

As the fire turned to coals, we roasted banana boats. Banana boats are bananas filled with chocolate chips and marshmallows that have been thrown into aluminum foil and cooked on the coals of a fire. This was a very satisfactory end to our day of fire!

November 11th, 2011

Our goose nest!

Today, our theme was feathers and warriors! We began our day by learning how to identify hawks, eagles, ravens, macaws, and turkeys by their feathers. We then ventured to Drake Park, where we encountered the Veteran’s day parade. Thus, there was a lot of excitement in the air and the boys wanted to talk about what it means to be a warrior. We then circled back to our theme of feathered friends, and I took some time to talk about the life cycle of geese as we stood at the shore, watching them in the water. As we gazed, we saw a family of deer across the street in the back yards of the houses along the bank of the river! I encouraged the boys to observe the movement of the geese when they were in the water, when they were on land, and when they flew out of the water. We made dances for each of the stages and then played goose Simon says, where they had to do different stages of the dance as they came toward me. Then, the boys joined me in making a replica goose nest, by collecting sticks, grasses, bark, and plumes. We ended our day with a game of tag. I didn’t want this day to end, I was having so much fun!