What a week to be outside! The trees are beginning to turn vibrant shades of red, orange and yellow, and signs of fall are everywhere! Just like humans, the animals are also beginning their seasonal transition. We have been noticing many more feathers on the ground, indicating that birds have begun molting in preparation for the colder months. This time of year is particularly confusing in terms of clothing - hats and mitts in the morning, but t-shirts by the afternoon. Regardless, it doesn’t hurt to be prepared. You never know what fall will bring!
This week we tuned in to our 5 senses to explore the forest even further. One by one, we “supercharged” our senses. We played Fire Keeper, where one person stands in the middle of the circle blindfolded, using their keen sense of hearing to pinpoint when someone is trying to steal their sticks. You’d be surprised at how precisely you can hear while not being able to see. For our sense of smell, we channeled our inner bears, wolves, and elephants! On a piece of brown felt (for better camouflage), we placed a few drops of essential oils, and even pickle juice - and hid them in the forest. Then, we used our noses to sniff out where they were hiding. Our sense of sight and observation was challenged through our observation station. A small section of the forest was roped off and a few items were placed strategically inside. After having a minute to take in as many details as possible, everyone was asked to turn away while the facilitator made a few small changes. When everyone was asked to return, we called out different changes that we noticed. Our final sensory activity incorporated all 5! We closed our eyes and visualized sounds, tastes, and smells, and used oil pastels to abstractly draw out what they looked like. We find that often, our senses lead to feelings which manifest in our brains as colours, shapes, patterns, or even memories. For example - when we smelled peppermint, many drew red, green, swirls or even snowflakes! Some tips we learned for improving our senses, such as: 1. blocking out one sense tells your brain to focus more on your other senses, and 2. Practice! The more you practice intentionally tuning into your senses, the more you will notice, connect, and appreciate everything going on around you. As busy as this all seemed, there was even more going on! We chopped and stacked wood to prepare for the colder months, added Feeder Flock to our growing list of community jobs, enjoyed the new features on our climbing structure up at the Den, and built new forts!
Our Rangers discussed different tools that were invented based on a need and how they evolved to what we know them as today. They also became inventors and began an ongoing project that will last the next couple of weeks. They established a need at Dogwood and brainstormed ideas to invent a solution. So far, we are looking at building a drying rack for wet winter clothing and a “wood taxi” to shuttle wood from the shed to the fire pit. In the afternoon they harvested birchbark from fallen trees, wore it as clothing, made different shapes, and created birch bark canoes.
Roots and Shoots celebrated the harvest! They searched for vegetables, like onions, garlic, squash, and carrots in the forest that Doe had strategically hidden; then they sorted and counted them and made “soup”. They explored the forest and the garden, and especially loved feeding the chickadees and finding hidden birch bark hearts along the way (thanks Rangers!).
Wilderness Wolves, the newest 4-session program where students specifically focus on developing wilderness survival skills, met for their first session this past Tuesday. They were power hikers, learning how to follow trails with tree markers, and enjoyed learning how to tie specific knots and then use those skills to build shelters. They also learned about sustainable harvesting of herbs and even made spearmint tea!
One final note, we have some exciting news! We are officially announcing “Roots” - our first ever forest school program for ADULTS! The first program will begin on Sunday October 23, from 9:30 am - 12:30 pm, where we will go through a typical forest school day - exploring, learning, playing, creating, and even cooking! For more details and how to register, visit our website. We are so excited to be able to finally offer this highly requested program.
It was a busy week here at Dogwood and we’re sure your child has more stories of their own from the week! A reminder that we do not have programs this Thanksgiving Monday, October 10th and we wish families an enjoyable long fall weekend with your family and friends!