This past week, we continued our explorations in the forest each day, the children gathering colorful leaves that they found on the forest floor. They have all become adjusted to the rhythm of the day, and our walk occurs first thing when we go outside. They heard a story about our friend Old Gnome all this week and last, which inspired their leaf gathering. In our story, Old gnome gathers wool and makes a small felt pad. He puts leaves, grasses, and flower petals on it and makes a little "picture". But when he leaves his wool to dry, a little hedgehog comes and uses it as his winter blanket! The children have loved making their own "Hedgie blankets" as well.
We were able to experience water coloring again with one another. This week we worked with red. The water coloring time is a time to just experience one color at a time, at least for now. This also makes it easier to learn to use the paintbrush, rinse water, and paint color correctly, so that later, in experiencing two colors, the children don't wind up with say, two jars of green, rather than blue and yellow. We take something that is surprisingly complex, and start out very simply. It also simplifies it enough that even children who may not care for painting, are able to relax and enjoy it without feeling daunted. The children really do settle down quietly and paint all together.
We had a very busy week of rainy weather, birthdays, time with old friends, and many changes of clothes. We managed to get out in the rain, which brought lots of new ideas for the mud kitchen and sand box. We also celebrated two birthdays this week, so we were busy baking and decorating cakes. The children love to pick flowers from the garden and put them all around our cake, and help to sprinkle powdered sugar on the top.
In the mornings, the children are invited to join in on preparing our snack. This may include cracking open pistachios or other nuts, peeling carrots, or "painting" pizza sauce on our polenta pizza. Some children prefer to begin their morning a little more slowly, and this allows them that time. In our story this week, Old Gnome gathers wool from the sheep that live in his meadow, and puts the wool into a pan. He pours hot water on it and adds some soap. Then he begins to "pat, pat, pat, rub, rub, rub" until the wool begins to bind. He sprinkles leaves and flower petals on it and adds a thin layer of wool on top, and pats and rubs it again to hold the leaves and petals on. When he leaves it to dry and then go home, a little hedgehog comes and takes it home to his hollow log, to use as a cozy winter blanket. The children also began making their own wool pictures and had a chance to "pat, pat, pat, rub, rub, rub" some soapy wet wool into "pancakes". Next week, we'll gather some flower petals and small leaves and make a little picture on the wool.
Our afternoon walks into the forest have continued this week. The children have found a perfect climbing tree in addition to the vine cave. It requires significant maneuvering to climb up the creek bed to get to the side with the tree and vines, but each day the children are getting better at it. They know just which vines to grab and can come down backwards, feeling their way with their feet. On the other side of the stream is the sliding side, with a steep hill for climbing up and sliding down. Again, they've learned just which vines to grab to come up the side. For the youngest of our crew who are not as able to climb, the forest has provided golden leaf treasures, which they enjoy gathering from the creek bed and forest floor.
The children have met two new story characters these past two weeks, and these characters will be joining us in the months to come. It is nice to have a character who we follow throughout the year, and the children connect with them. They look forward to the adventures and develop a fondness for them. This allows their imagination to also expand on the possibilities of that character, and even bring those ideas into their imaginary play. So earlier in September, the children were introduced to Old Gnome. He is a short, sturdy fellow who, like all gnomes, has a kind relationship with the local animals. This past week, the children met Mother Earth, who was just bringing a little baby out for a walk when she realized Autumn was coming and she needed to call the Autumn fairies to come and paint the trees, starting with the top leaves. Mother Earth is a big hand puppet, and the children are absolutely silent when she comes out and starts slowly walking.
As the days are getting slowly but surely more cool, the children have not been quite as eager to go water crazy, though it certainly still makes an appearance everyday. They've taken to making houses and caves out of the hay bales, and building with the big blocks. I am scouting out cozy nooks to create for the children, it seems almost instinctual that as the weather gets cooler, they begin fort building or asking me to help make a fort! Little nooks are also a wonderful spot for a little sensory bin play. Our circle time now includes a verse that goes "pull my cart my pony pull, careful now the load is full..." and the children form a little train. I've heard them repeating this verse in their play as well, especially when lugging something heavy!