Nature BlogStories from programs and outdoor ramblings
Final Week of Spring Session!
What a wet, wild and beautiful final week we all had together! We played lots of games, enjoyed time as a big group, took on end of session challenges and for some, “had the best day ever!” We’ll let the pics below speak for themselves but some key words from the week are: carving, camouflage, shelter building, tree ID, and endurance, catching frogs, water, proofing the shelters, tree ID challenges, throwing spears, Nature Olympics, playing lots of fun running games and drawing, watching our garden grow, playing a bunch of large group games, splashing in the creek, swinging on the rope swing, making cordage, and exploring the area, building boats that could float down the creek, camouflaging someone head to toe, getting muddy and being creative!
Spring Session Week 5
TUESDAY, May 11th
MATT, CORA, ZACH & ADDISONS GROUP:
Last week, the big piece from our day was a barred owl funeral. This week we started with a few rounds of ‘up chuck’ and also some free for all , soccer and frisbee. After morning circle, we got all set up for archery tag in the orchard meadow. We played several epic rounds which gave us all a lot of good archery practice. We had lunch there in the sun and then set out to meet the other groups for a huge game of ‘life and death in the forest’ which is an ecology game.
AUTUMN, RILEY & GABBY’S GROUP
We began our morning with a round of Bear, Salmon, Mosquito to warm up and get energized for the day. Opening Circle started by sharing gratitude and a fishing story from Riley. Then, we hiked into the woods, finding deer fur and tracks along the way. We played a hiking game called Cougar Chases Deer which taught us how to walk stealth and silent. Autumn led us in a leaf observation game. Students paired up, one partner found a leaf, described the leaf to their partner while the partner’s eyes were closed, all the leaves were placed in the middle, and then the partner had to identify their leaf. Then, we divided into small groups with people we didn’t know as well to build mini habitats of animals native to Northern Michigan. Each group got to choose their animal and were required to build a habitat with the three essential needs: food, water, shelter. They had a lot of fun getting creative and sharing their habitats with the rest of the group. After that, we ate lunch and free played before heading to the field for a large group game. The game taught the kids about the food web while also keeping them engaged. We hiked back to base for Closing Circle and to share apples and onions. Lastly, we got to all pet Addie’s new puppy!
CARRIE, ASHLEY & BLAKE’S GROUP:
Tuesday (May 4th):
Today we were on a mission to find some aquatic creatures. The spring is a great time to see the different creatures in the woods grow and change into their adult form. Aquatic creatures are the beginnings for many animals we have here at the commons. The hope was to find a variety of species in different areas of the commons. We started off on the trail and found a great drainage area, this space held a variety of shelled creatures, snails, clams and some water beetles. We traveled along the trail and found that the next creek was flowing fast, we could not find anything other than sediment in this creek but had a great time creating a temporary dam. We had lunch just up the trail on a large hill. This turned out to be a great place to move big logs and find salamanders. On the way back to the meeting location we stopped in a low area to the creek by the road. This area turned out to be a wonderful spot to build another dam and we were able to find different species, fresh water shrimp and some more small larvae that we could not identify. We traveled back to the “home base” via the labyrinth where everyone enjoyed running and chasing. Take home challenge was for everyone to see if they have any water creatures living around their home. The hope is that as we continue throughout the weeks we can see the evolution of some of these water creatures and maybe catch some dragonfly/tadpole emergence from these water sources. Now that we have a baseline in what is in some of the water around the commons we can search for more signs.
FOREST KINDERGARTEN WEDNESDAY, May 12th
AUTUMN, ZACH, RILEY & KAIA’S GROUP
We started the day as a combined large group with running games, coloring, nature museum with animal tracks, and a few rounds of ninja. Everyone chose what they were interested in and had fun playing with kids from the other group. Then, we transitioned to Opening Circle which included trying to identify the bird call we heard. We also listened to Riley tell a story about a baby elk and baby opossum that took place at The Grand Canyon. Then, we split up and took a long hike to the pines. Everyone did so well moving their little legs along and keeping up with us bigger people. We plopped down for an early lunch before digging for bones in the sand pit. We dug and dug and dug and found two small bones that we think belonged to a pig! Some of us got buried and others soaked up the long awaited spring sunshine. Then, we packed up to head back to base. On our way we stumbled upon a mama duck and her ducklings! We all wanted to pet their fluffy yellow feathers, but knew that that wouldn’t be very respectful to the mama duck. After making it back to base, we sat down for Closing Circle and shared our favorite part of the day.
CARRIE, CORA, GABBY & WILDER’S GROUP (Wednesday, (May 5th)
It was fun to start the morning off playing big group games and morning circle with the other Forest Kindergarten group. After morning circle we headed back into the garden to check on our reddish plants and decorate some rocks that will help make the garden more inviting. We had to go searching up the big hill next to the garden to find rocks, which we were able to roll down to get back. After some beautiful pieces were created and we had lunch we ended our day with the full group playing sharks and minnows.
THURSDAY May 13th
AUTUMN & RILEY’S GROUP
Today we started our morning with a couple rounds of Ninja and Everybody’s It. We quickly got started with Morning Circle so that we could head into the woods as soon as possible. Everyone shared gratitude and if they did the take home challenge. Riley told us a very interesting story about the time he scouted out a very peculiar deer. We learned different scouting skills throughout the story. Then, we hauled a basswood log through the woods and to the creek. Our plan is to let it soak in the creek all week so that we can make cordage out of it! We took a long water break because carrying that heavy log was exhausting! Then, Autumn taught us a game called Bat and Moth. We learned about echolocation and different types of bats. From there we moved on to the pines where the group was split into small groups to give everyone a chance to get to know other people. In our small groups we built miniature habitats for an animal native to Michigan. The habitat had to have a waterproof shelter and access to food and water. We tested the strength of the shelter by dumping water on it and seeing if our hands would get wet. There was lots of creativity involved which led to more creativity and eventually an entire village was built out of pine needles. We ate lunch and worked on “Avara Village” the rest of the day. Every single person was super into it and had a different role. There were students building the pathways, constructing rooms, protecting the village from the treetops, guarding the jail, creating root cellars for food storage, and occasionally using advanced technology for mind control on Autumn and Riley. It was cool to see how they all contributed to create an imaginary village out of materials found in nature. Sadly the day was coming to a close, so we walked back to base to share one thing we learned and apples and onions.
MATT & GABBY’S GROUP
Last week; the key pieces were bow drill practice and carving time and a big group game of capture the flag and then kickball. This week we started with playing ‘up chuck’ and then ‘krackaboom’. We followed up with more bow drill practice and carving time. It was awesome to see that some of the kids have completed their bow drill kits and are getting a handle of the practice form! We hiked down to kids creek and the day had heated up, this lead to us jumping into the creek tomfoolery, tug of war into the creek. After lunch we explored down creek and discovered some dead salmon, a live steelhead, a few trout, a duck nest, trout, beaver sign, heron sign, and some really neat spots to explore more later. A few of us made improvised fishing lines from p-cord and safety pins but no luck catching anything. We wound our way through the park and got into the upland forest where we played ‘grounders’. We got back to base with a few extra minutes and played some more ‘up chuck’ and then ‘archery 500’
CARRIE & ZACH’S GROUP
Thursday (May 6th)
After a shorter morning of jumping rope and soap stone carving we headed out to the garden. We had not been to the garden since the first day so we were all excited to start digging in the soil. There was a contest to who could dig the deepest hole, and soon everyone decided to team up as it would be a better use of everyone’s ability. While digging was taking place Carrie was prepping the other garden for seeds. We were able to plant cilantro, lettuce and beans into the garden and we are all looking forward to what will come up in the next few weeks. After lunch in the garden we hiked out to Mullen Hill to meet up with the other two groups for a BIG game of Kick Ball. This was the first time many in our group had played and the were naturals. We ended our day with apples and onions- many highlights was the hole digging.
SPRING SESSION, WEEK 3
TUESDAY, APRIL 27TH
MATT, CORA, ZACH & ADDISONS GROUP:
To kick off the day, folks had a chance to check out the animal track nature museum or play games. After all had arrived we played a few big group games, an ecology game called do deer and another called predator, prey, protector. We circled up and discussed wildlife tracking 101 and then had restroom break before headind down to the wetland for tracking. Along the way we stopped at the boxelder climbing tree and goofed around, played a little stickball. We found our way into a thick meadow and played a couple rounds of eagles eye and then wound our way down to the creek where we explored tracks, scat, signs and made some boats to race. After lunch the kids went on solo sit spots to sketch mystery tracks we then shared as a group. We headed up creek to search for a beaver lodge as there was much beaver sign in the area but did not find it. We wound up needing to cross the creek on a crazy log bridge then made our way back to main camp along the boardwalk. We gathered the archery supplies and went to the garden for level 1 target practice,all had a good time. We rushed back to main camp and had a brief circle to conclude our day.
AUTUMN, RILEY & GABBY’S GROUP:
We started the day by playing a few running games to get warmed up. The kids loved playing Dead Ant. Then Kaia walked up with her Bearded Dragon! Everyone gathered to pet him and hold him. We sat to share gratitude and ask everyone if they did the sit spot challenge. Many said they had, some for as long as two hours! Then, we hiked into the woods and someone found a hairy woodpecker wing! As we walked we tested our tree ID knowledge and Sadie found a maple blossom. We finally got to the clearing and all sat down for a snack before free play. The kids really enjoyed catching up after the long break. One student found a bird nest, others built fairy villages out of materials found in nature, and everyone searched for a “rabbit stick” to carve. Riley challenged the kids to uniquely carve their stick so they could identify it and keep track of it throughout the entire spring session. If they lose it or one of the instructors “steal” it they will receive another challenge such as finding a specific type of pine needle or leaf. After carving, we ate lunch and headed to a new location. We worked on some more tree ID and played a couple rounds of Eagle Eye and Grounders. On our walk back to base we spotted some tracks that we identified as a rabbit. Finally, we ended the day with Closing Circle and sharing our favorite part of the day.
CARRIE, ASHLEY & BLAKE’S GROUP:
After morning circle we started our day in the garden. We needed to plant the seed tapes of Arugula we made a few weeks ago. The garden needed to be prepped before we could plant so everyone helped get grass clumps out and some compost into our section. While some friends planted others were found playing in the tall grasses and digging in the dirt. After everything was planted we headed out to check on the forts we had started last time. Once there we noticed they had unfortunately been destroyed so we started over again. This area was a great spot to build, walk on trees, have fun with friends and eat lunch. After lunch We had our first sit spot, a time where we all needed to sit and listen for what is happening in the woods. We came together to hear what everyone saw, heard, and smelled (the ramps are still out there). Blake showed us the different tinder materials he found during sit spot. He then led us in a discussion about what to look for in natural materials to be able to start a fire. Everyone was then challenged to find their own tinder and bring it back to the circle do we could test it out. It has been so wet that it was a tough challenge but everyone was successful. After everyone had a chance to test their tinder material we made our hike back for closing circle. The take home challenge for the day was to look around outside of your home for material that would make good tinder. They can bring it back next week and we will check to see if it lights.
FOREST KINDERGARTEN WEDNESDAY, APRIL 28TH
AUTUMN, ZACH, RILEY & KAIA’S GROUP:
We began the day looking at castings of animal tracks and attempting to identify them using identification books. Then, we warmed up with a couple rounds of Rabbit Hole. Once we were all out of breath we sat down for a snack and a story about a salamander. Then we began our hike into the woods, but got distracted by the adorable homemade fairy houses littered about. We couldn’t resist spending some time ooh-ing and awe-ing at them all. After that, we wandered into the giant bird nest to look under rocks for worms and salamanders. No salamanders, but we found lots of worms for the garden! We put them in a container with soil to carry to the garden. We spent a lot of time there exploring the soil. Karl found a slug that he proceeded to carry around the rest of the day 🙂 After we had our fill of worm hunting, we hiked up to a new spot for lunch. Then, we hiked some more to the garden to release our worms. Everyone had lots of fun observing them squirming back into the earth. We made our way to the big pine tree to shelter us from the wind and drizzle. There we drew pictures of nature we saw throughout the day while Riley told us yet another story. We ended the day sharing our favorite part of the day and receiving the take home challenge. Each student was challenged to build their own fairy house out of materials found in nature. Then we played Bear, Salmon, Mosquito, and Ninja while waiting for parents.
CARRIE, CORA, GABBY & WILDER’S GROUP:
After being gone for a well it was great to get back together at the commons with first kindergarten. We started out day out in the garden. We each made some seed tape with radish seeds to plant. This process is a great way to be sure the small seeds are all utilized in planting, giving each one the space needed to grown without having to thin the patch. Once the seed tapes were created the group then needed to get the soil ready for planting. This was a big job for everyone, and they were excited to get their hands on the soil. We first needed to remove all the grass clumps, then stir in some compost, after all the was completed we dug our small trenches for the seed tapes and planted each one. We can not wait to see them start to come up! After plying in the garden for a little bit, we headed over to the nearby by tree to practice our climbing, everyone is getting so good at climbing up the big trees in the garden area. We left the tree to have lunch in the “secret garden”. Where once we were done eating there was a big game of chase/make believe happening through the garden. We needed the day with smiles, laughing and dirty.
THURSDAY, APRIL 29TH
AUTUMN & RILEY’S GROUP:
We started the day by playing a new running game called Dead Ant. Then, we circled up for a round of Trickster Transformer while eating a snack. In this round we were a village of freshwater shrimp! Then, we headed to the old orchard for a short free play and to practice some core skills. We worked on owl ears, fox walk, sneaking, and some others. After that, we played Tree Tag to work on our tree ID skills. We learned beech, sugar maple, elm, ironwood, and basswood. The basswood buds were very tasty! Then we hiked on to eat lunch in the woods. The students enjoyed talking with one another after the long break. After lunch, we had more free play in the field before learning another new game called Oh Deer! The game taught us about population ecology and how it’s important to not harvest too much of one wild edible. Then, we tested our tree ID skills some more and played a round of Grounder before heading back for Closing Circle. Each student said their favorite part of the day and were given a take home challenge. Their challenge is to sit in their sit spot and identify at least one tree or plant that they see.
MATT & GABBY’S GROUP:
Right off, kids had a chance to carve bow drills or play ‘everybodys it’ tag. Once the dust had settled, we circled up and had introductions with a new student who joined our group. We also took note of new signs of spring and discussed our plan of the day. After our restroom break, we hiked on out to the woods. In the ground hog meadow, we played plant concentration and discussed the safety aspects of wild edibles. Then we checked our morel spot where we had more success! Also during this time, kids were climbing some trees and playing the floor is lava. We had lunch at the spring, the kids invented new water works at the creek, played some kid of monster chase game, and made pine needle creations. After lunch we headed on, found delicious basswood buds and did a small stinging nettle harvest/sting challenge. Impressively, Josh then carried all the other kids’s backpacks on a long stick over his shoulders all the way back to camp! Once we got back we prepped the supplies for archery. We had a great time doing target practice and archery 101 in the garden and then had a great bout of archery tag in the orchard meadow. We got back just in time for pickup.
CARRIE & ZACH’S GROUP:
Hopeful for the sun today we set off after our morning circle and some fun games of jump rope. We set off on the trail on ended at the base of Otter Slide. This spot had a hidden salamander waiting for discovery, many rocks to investigate, and fun times climbing up the big hill to be able to run back down! We ate lunch in the patch of trees where an old shelter is standing. After lunch Zach was able to set up a rope swing and a rope hammock for everyone to test out, and we had some soap stone to practice carving on with files.
The afternoon was full of more climbing, rock investigation/filing, make believe and most of all friendship building.
SPRING SESSION, WEEK 2
TUESDAY, APRIL 13TH
MATT, CORA, ZACH & ADDISONS GROUP:
AUTUMN, RILEY & GABBY’S GROUP
The chilly morning began with a game of Fox Tail and inspecting turtle shells from the Nature Museum as students trickled in. Once everyone had arrived, we each shared something we were grateful for and our name. As we hiked up to our first destination, we played freeze, flood, or fade. Once we made it to the top of the hill, we split into two groups to work on our carving skills. Riley refreshed us on the six rules of knife safety. Then, we began whittling sticks into sharp points, and learned how to carve a stick in half using the ‘beaver chew’ technique. All of the students got their Level Two carving certification!!! Well done! The other group free-played with Gabby until it was time to switch. Then we packed up our bags and trekked to a new location. On our way we identified Trout Lily to munch on, while also testing our tree identification skills (something we will continue to work on this spring). The kids were so excited about carving that we sat down to continue improving our skills before lunch. Next, Autumn led us in a teambuilding activity where each student was assigned an animal. They then had to line up in order of smallest to biggest animal without speaking. After a long while and a little help, they were successful! We then debriefed by discussing what was difficult, what we did well, and what we could have done better for next time. They determined that assigning a leader at the beginning would have been helpful. Then, we sneaked past Matt’s group and made our way closer to base to play one final game. While there, one brave student showed us a Nursery Web Spider crawling on his hand! We also found some dear fur and tried Ramp or Wild Leeks. We played a few games of Grounder and headed back to base for Closing Circle. There we each shared our Onion and Apple; one thing about the day that at first seemed bad but ended up being okay and one sweet thing about the day.
CARRIE, ASHLEY & BLAKE’S GROUP:
The day turned out to be wonderful weather for exploring and building friendships. We started by learning a new game with Blake, Otter Steals Fish. This is a fun way to get us all moving and having fun. At morning circle we read “Bear Has a Story to Tell” this was a great way to learn about how different animals get ready for winter, and wake up or return in the spring. After a morning circle with a story and check in, we headed to the Garden plot to see where we could plant in the next few months. At the garden we worked together to make seed tapes of Arugula. This process is great for planting small seeds, and it helps utilize all the seeds so you will not need to thin the patch. After we were done we left them to dry as we hiked up into the field. On our hike one friend found a BEAUTIFUL praying mantis egg sack! We gathered it up and put it near our garden so we can check each week to see if it hatches. On our hike we found the perfect climbing tree, a big willow in the old orchard. After a break to climb we moved on up the hill to the lookout where we spotted some cool rocks last week. We hiked on to find the best spot for a new fort and was lucky to find a down log for lunch and fort building up behind the fairy forest. This location is going to be a top spot to return as we have a few really great forts in the making. We ended our day picking up the now dry seed tapes, and playing games before pick up. Each week we hope to have everyone complete some challenges at home to develop their nature connection at home. This week the take home challenge is to find signs of spring that they have around their house. Each of us was challenged to create a list, or a picture to bring next week that would show us what everyone is seeing at home.
FOREST KINDERGARTEN WEDNESDAY, APRIL 14TH
AUTUMN, ZACH, RILEY & KAIA’S GROUP
As students arrived, we played tag to keep warm and then circled up to go over guidelines. Kaia told us an elaborate story about a fairy, a fox, and a human named Tom. As we hiked to our first destination, we played Deer Hunt – Riley was a deer and the kids were cougars trying to “catch” him, but if he turned around they all had to freeze. We talked about how silent and stealth cougars are. We also stopped to look at some fairy houses and Owen found a bouquet of already picked flowers lying on the trail. Once we got to the field we sat down for a snack. It started to snow, so we packed up and headed to a more covered space. On the way, we found Ramp to munch on, reminding the kids to always ask before they eat anything from the wild. At Otter Slide Hill we free-played to keep warm and found a homemade shelter! Lukas and Karl worked on reinforcing it while Penelope and June dug holes and the others frolicked through the woods. We observed lots of interesting forest growth and appreciated the wildflowers. Then, we sat down for lunch before climbing up Otter Slide Hill to get warm again. The day seemed to fly by and before we knew it it was time to make the long trek back to base. While waiting for parents, we played an exciting game of Otter Steals Fish.
CARRIE, CORA, GABBY & WILDER’S GROUP
We started our morning testing out how good of jumpers we have in our group. Everyone showed mastery at jumping over and climbing under our jump rope, jumping over sticks and jumping up as high as they could! After some extreme jumping a game of tug of war developed between Gabby and the full group of kiddos. Gabby is so strong and won many of the times! Everyone circled up to listen to Bear Has a Story to Tell, from Cora and we all shared our hopes for our day. Today we decided to head the opposite direction than last week and went to the old orchard to explore the grasses and a HUGE willow tree in the field. After a tough hike up some hills we made it to the tree, with a cool deer skull Gabby found in a bush along the way. Everyone had fun climbing the tree, chasing friends around the field (mostly chasing Wilder), and jumping/playing up and down the hills. We took some small hikes to gather some Mullen sticks, these flowers leave a very strong stem after they have flowered and seeded out in the fall. We used them well to be a part of our Mullen Warriors who defend our tree. We hid from the snow under the willow for lunch, and headed back along the big path for the end of the day circle and pick up.
THURSDAY, APRIL 15TH
AUTUMN & RILEY’S GROUP
The day began rainy and cold, but we were determined to stay warm through lots of movement. It helped that all of the students were excited for the day and happy to see their friends. We started off with a stop at the Japanese Garden to look at different, non-native plants. Lachlan and Lazlo identified a Rhododendron plant which they also have at their house. On the way to the woods the kids insisted we stop to look at the pretty pink cherry blossoms. We finally made our way to a large Hemlock tree and played a round of Trickster Transformer while eating a snack. Odin found a giant Nightcrawler! Then we hiked through the Cedar forest and stopped for free play. Some of the kids built a bridge to a “meditation island” while others played near the creek. Eventually, we moved on to prevent getting soaked and cold. We headed up the hill for lunch, with a view overlooking The Commons. After lunch, the kids were full of energy so we ran and hiked some more. The kids were tasked with identifying as many trees as possible. Sylvia taught us how to identify Ironwood and Sugar Maples! Then we went to the “dirt waterfall” to extinguish some more energy. Rowan found an Eastern red-backed salamander! Then, Autumn led the kids in a teambuilding activity where each student was assigned an animal. They then had to line up in order of smallest to biggest animal without speaking. After a little help and a lot of time, they were successful! We packed up and hiked to Otter Slide Hill to play on the hill and a fun dinosaur game Lazlo created. Before we knew it, it was time to head back to base for Closing Circle. Everyone shared their apple and onion from the day, and many didn’t even have an onion!
MATT & GABBY’S GROUP
When conditions are wet, windy, and with temps in the mid 30’s; staying active and engaged is the the name of the game. We had some morning shenanigans including jump rope, tug of war, attempting to raise each other into a tree, and making a climbing rope/swing. Once everyone had arrived we set out right away. The kids were really interested in all the fairy houses in the BGS woods, Im pretty sure each of the many creations got a good survey from our group. A few of the kids were more interested in seeing how deep the nearby mudholes were. We made our way to our morel hunting grounds to check the status, Gabby found 6 nice little morels but the rest of us came up empty. On our way to our shelter spot we paused at “otter slide hill” and setup a rabbit stick and rock throwing target range. Some of the group wanted to clamber up and down the nearby hill while the rest of us took shots at the targets. At our shelter, we discovered a few of our structures had withstood the weather. Nearby we played several rounds of “grounders” which is a log balancing game. After a lunch break, we bombed down the switchback hill trails to “mullein hill” where we played a bunch of games including: ninja, bat bat moth moth, cyclone in lake michigan, zombies at the mall, and run rabbit run. With our remaining enerrgy we made our way back to our drop site and were excited to find a porcupine along the way. We took some time to watch the porcupine and even collected some quills left at the base of its tree. To conclude our day, each person had a chance to share their highlights of the day with the group.
CARRIE & ZACH’S GROUP
The day started off cold and wet, but everyone came with a great attitude and were ready for adventure. Zack and Carrie had one goal, stay warm and have fun, so we set off on our hike right away to get out of the rain and cold wind. The group started their hike in the Fairy Forest, we had fun looking at the beautiful house, our favorites were the hidden easter eggs and the Fairy Ship that we found in the small creek by the forest. After a short snack break at the top of the fairy forest we continued up the hill, looking at the Ramps, Spring Beauties and Trout Lilies as we went. Carrie even spotted some Trilliums ready to bloom. At the top of one of the largest hills this group has seen we went on a “choose your own adventure” hike. Zach guided the kiddos to choose a path at each intersection. The kiddos took us on some fun routes, up steep sand hills and over some forested paths. We finally stopped for lunch along some mountain bike trails and had time to eat and did some imagination play along a big tree, which was described as a HUGE cliff they were falling off. We trekked down the hill, some of us running along the winding mountain bike path, as fast as a rollercoaster. We stopped back at the cedar forest to work on the damn we started last week. Mud, water and teamwork filled the next few hours! It is amazing to see the work that each person can do when you have the help of a friend! We wrapped up this long day with a long hike back. The whole day resulted in no one being too cold, over 3 miles hiked, about a pound of mud total on everyone’s clothes, and a lot of fun! The take home challenge for this week is to get as or more dirty as they did today. It will be a tough challenge, but one we thing everyone in this group can do!
Spring Session, Week 1
TUESDAY, APRIL 6th
MATT, CORA, ZACH & ADDISONS GROUP:
Our day began at the nature museum which included a lot of interesting mammal skulls. Then we shifted into a big group game of Fire in the Forest before gathering up for morning circle where everyone had a chance to introduce themselves and speak to their hopes or intentions for our spring session.
From there, we hiked on out towards the wetland intent on finding a turtle. We stopped for a while on our way to watch a porcupine we spotted high up in a sugar maple. We hiked briskly to the spring where we settled in for a bit. There was some frolicking, some spring engineering, a garter snake was found which we attempted to feed. There was some tree climbing and a very exciting lumber jack log jumping game! We played a name game and then had lunch.
After lunch we continued our wetland exploration which had a short interlude to use the rope swing over the creek, and we found a couple more garter snakes one of which was huge. We eventually wound our way down kids creek where we stumbled upon a massive black willow tree which had to be climbed. Nearby we found some raccoon tracks. Near the great tree we played a few sneaking games including ‘fire keeper’ which we thought might help us sneak up on a turtle.
We wound up at the boardwalk which we followed back to our main base where to our surprise, we found a ‘cough pellet’ right under the tree where we had done our morning circle. This is regurgitated food scraps from a raptor or corvid, we thought it could have been from the red tailed hawk we had seen earlier.
We took the opportunity to dissect the pellet and discovered a bunch of tiny bones and some orange teeth indicating a mouse had been eaten by whatever bird this came from. During this time some kids were checking out the nearby pond and playing some running games.
We concluded our day by playing ‘head honcho’ which is an awareness game that helps us practice peripheral vision.
AUTUMN, RILEY & GABBY’S GROUP
Spring Session got off to a good start with the sound of birds chirping, sunny skies, and warm weather. We began our day trekking through a muddy, marshy area ensuring the students that it’s okay to get dirty at outdoor school! Riley led us to higher ground where we sat amongst cattail stalks and played a memory name game. Then, we hiked to Otter Slide Hill for quality free play. The students socialized, role played, ran, snacked, and climbed the steep hill. We munched on some lunch while watching a hawk swoop over our heads and land on a nearby tree. Then, we headed towards our first challenge – to build a raft out of materials found in the woods that would hold a small fire while floating down the creek. While there we found a large Green Frog! The students explored and continued to build rafts. Gabby then led us to play our final game and a classic favorite, Eagle’s Eye. We extinguished the last of our energy before returning to base.
CARRIE, ASHLEY & BLAKE’S GROUP:
We had a great first day. Through games, hikes and adventuring our group was forming friendships and bonds right away. We started the morning by playing games and taking a look at the nature museum as everyone was arriving. Our littles were eager to get on with the hike for the day so we headed out after a quick snack and a review of rules that are held at Nature School and a look at a few of the emerging buds that we had around our gathering place. We went out into the woods taking a look at more of the plants that were emerging from their winter sleep. We had a great find when we were able to taste newly emerging Leeks off trail on our hike. As we moved on we made an uphill excursion to stop at the top of the Orchard Rock Hill. This was a great location for a water break and some fun running up and down the steep rock hill and finding some beautiful rocks. Some friends gathered treasure, others began to play games with the new nature they had found. In anticipation of rain we meandered into a nearby valley that was great for our tree climbers, bird watchers, and a perfect lunch spot. We continued playing with our new friends, climbing up and down a fallen tree, finding new swords, collecting bark off of the huge tree and relaxing in the tall grasses watching the birds fly around us. Ever so lucky for such a beautiful day we ended the day by walking down to a wet marshy area to see what type of animals might be resting down there. We found one large cattail that had fun silkworms hiding inside, and some wonderful dark blak muck. This was a great place to explore and take a break for water and a snack. We took an opportunity to dry our muddy feet by playing a game of Eagle Eye, which is sure to be requested in the future. After our short walk back to the gathering place we wrapped up our day with a game of search and find, each friend was challenged to find the plant/object that Carrie found in the area. Everyone did a great job searching and helping their friends so everyone was successful!
FOREST KINDERGARTEN WEDNESDAY, APRIL 7th
AUTUMN, ZACH, RILEY & KAIA’S GROUP
The day began looking at bird remnants from the Nature Museum, and playing a variety of running games while students trickled in. Riley told us a riveting story about a mini Sasquatch that roams the area and possesses all of our favorite treats. His one request is that you be kind to nature and all of its inhabitants. We then hiked our way to the old apple orchard overlooking much of the property. The students were champs and none complained about the long walk. We circled up for a silly name game and ate a snack. On our hike back down into the woods Owen spotted an area of Spring Beauties; an early Spring wildflower! We all ran over, looked at, and talked about them for a while. Then, Zach led us up another hill where we explored, and Rhine found an earthworm! Finally, we found a semi-shady spot to sit down for lunch and rest our feet. After that, Autumn challenged the students to go on a scavenger hunt. We found dog tracks, cool rocks, and even a Tree Frog! As we hiked back towards base we played one final game of Otter Steals Fish. We hydrated and ended the day under a pine tree while drawing pictures and discussing what we saw in nature throughout the day.
CARRIE, CORA, GABBY & WILDER’S GROUP
Forest Kindergarten is an exciting day at Human Nature School, and was full of happy smiles and new day nervousness. We started our morning by looking at the many turtle shells and skulls using them for inspiration in our drawings this morning at the nature museum. After a snack and drink of water we started out for our hike of the day. We tried a tough route through the swampy area by the gardens in hopes of finding some water to explore and a nice tree for some shade to help on this anticipated hot day. We had some tough walking through the cattail but all made it to the large box elder tree. This area gave us an opportunity to explore around the cold small creek, you could see all the rocks on the bottom, jump from bank to bank and put your hand in to feel the cold water speed by. We all had a great time climbing up on the limbs of this large tree and it turns out we are all natural climbers and explorers. After some climbing we gathered young branches and attempted to make crowns for everyone. At lunch time, we enjoyed getting to know each other more and listened to the story The Gigantic Turnip. After our short walk back to the gathering place we wrapped up our day with a game of search and find, each friend was challenged to find the plant/object that Carrie found in the area. Everyone did a great job searching and helping their friends so everyone was successful!
THURSDAY APRIL 8th
AUTUMN & RILEY’S GROUP
We started our day getting our blood pumping with running games as students rolled in. Once everyone arrived we circled up to share gratitude and discuss guidelines. Everyone was very attentive and listened well as others shared. Then we made our way into the woods and found shelter under a Hemlock as the rain drizzled down. Riley led an imaginative game of Trickster Transformer while we waited for the rain to pass. Next, we hiked our way to a field for free play and socializing. The kids enjoyed climbing on a large fallen tree before sitting down for lunch. During lunch Rowan got out her North American Birds pamphlet and excitedly asked the group which ones they’ve seen in their lifetime. Turns out they have seen them all! We then challenged the kids to a team-building activity called Plant Concentration and one called Dragon Marshmallow. After that we headed to the Hemlock forest to “Meet A Tree”. As we walked back toward base the kids discussed their favorite part of the day and one way they can have a positive impact on nature.
MATT & GABBY’S GROUP
Our class began with checking out the morning’s nature museum which featured bird feathers and animal tracks. We also played some games including ‘everybody’s it’ and ‘otter steals fish’. Once everyone had arrived we circled up and everyone had a chance to introduce themselves and offer an interesting fact about themselves, most of us offered which type of animal we would be if we could be any animal in the world.
Before hitting the trail, we went over the rules of HNS
- Respect for self
- Respect for each other
- Respect for nature
- Ask: before climbing a tree, going in the creek, stepping away from the group, jumping in the mud, etc.
- Stay where we can see or hear you
After a brief restroom break, we headed west through the apple orchard and into the woods. The kids were very chatty and excited but soon tired as we climbed the wooded hills. We took a few breaks but eventually made it all the way up “fire hill” to our old camp spot.
There, it began to rain so the kids were inspired to make shelters! About half the group was hard at work building and the other half was doing some tree climbing. At camp, we gathered some basswood material we found to make bow drills later. We had a few discussions during lunch, many people are excited about building bows and arrows and we discussed the ‘top 10 hazards of the park’. These were the ideas the kids came up with…
- fast moving mountain bikes
- insect stings
- garbage/broken glass
- uneven terrain and holes
- loose dogs
- black widows and brown recluse spiders
- massassagua rattler snake
- black bears
- thorny plants and stinging nettles
- poisonous plants and poison ivy
We went to check out an overlook before running down the switchback paths that lead down to “otter slide hill” where we played 3 rounds of eagles eye. While there, we also took the opportunity to enjoy the jungle gym-like fort and horizontal ironwood trees.
The day had turned hot so we decided to stop by the nearby creek to cool off. There we found a hazardous plant, wild parsnip which we all learned about how it causes itchy rashes. We also saw some brook trout and most of us took the opportunity to dip our heads in the creek to cool down and some even went all the way in
We made our way back to base camp to do knife carving training and certification. This went very well and we were able to get a good sense of where everyone is at with carving skills. We will be able to get everyone’s certification level nailed down next week. With the last bit of time and energy we had, the kids were insistent on playing capture the flag which turned out to be a blast. To wrap up our day, we circled up and each person had a chance to share their highlights of the day with the group.
CARRIE & ZACH’S GROUP
We had a nice slow start to the morning by looking at the wonderful skulls and furs at nature museum with Zach, trying to guess the animal of each object. We took time to have a snack and hear the story of the Lupine Lady and how she had a goal in life to make the world a more beautiful place. After the story we made our way over the labyrinth to start our hike. Everyone had fun navigating the twisting and turning path. Continuing through the swampy area we made it to the hiking trail that led us down into the cedars, this was a good place to be as we anticipated rain and it would make good cover. Luckily it only sprinkled, but while we were there we had fun making a damn in the small creek. This took a lot of team work as the logs we found could be very heavy. Everyone had fun building and then exploring both sides of the creek, now accessible by the newly constructed damn. We moved a little for lunch so everyone could have a good sitting log to sit on while they ate, as the ground was still wet from the rain that we received overnight. After lunch we took a long hike back to the gathering place to refill waters and use the porta potties. We ended the day by heading out to the garden plot that HNS is going to be using this session. As it was freshly tilled we had an opportunity to dig around in the soil to hunt for earthworms and see how big of holes we could dig. While we were out there we took some time to also enjoy the cool breeze and listen to our last story of the day, The Gigantic Turnip, a story about how all the animals were needed to help harvest the last turnip of the season. We look forward to when we can head back out to the garden and plan in that rich soil again.
Winter Session, Week 7
Story of the day from Tuesday, March 9th, 2021
With the beautiful weather, we decided to have a long morning up in the field playing games and enjoying the snow-free land. There was free play, tree climbing, and rock mining happening alongside the big group games we played which were ‘everybody’s it’, ‘owls and crows’, ‘bear, salmon, mosquito’, and a long round of the ecology game called ‘do deer’. Eventually, we decided to head on down to the valley.
The younger group went back down to the creek trail to walk along the section we missed last week. It was wonderful to see the water flowing so fast and smell the big sections of mud. We wound our way around the swampy area and ended at the remains of our snow shelter, now just a pile of snow. While we enjoyed lunch we took some time to climb the big white pine.
The olders group went to main camp and got to the work of building a setup for boiling our maple sap (staff gathered the sap before kids arrived). Our setup included setting large rounds of wood on the fireside benches, we harvested a long straight cedar pole that stretched from one to the other, we hatcheted the ends of the cedar pole flat, we used hand drills to bore through the cedar and into the rounds, we carved some branches to serve as nails and dowel jointed the pole to the rounds, we then had a solid beam to hang our sap pan from. Other tools we used were c clamps, wooden mallet, and hand saws.
We worked together to gather kindling and then cut small pieces of firewood for a hot fire, soon the sap was boiling. As the sap boiled, we played some spider ball and then went on an off-trail exploration down the creek from camp. Our wander was much like an obstacle course, balancing on beams across the water, climbing over and under, following deer trails through the muck, lots of fun. We eventually found our way back to camp and everyone had a chance to try the boiled sap, it had been reduced by about 50% at that point, had a nice amber color, and by all accounts was delicious. We plan to continue boiling next week to finished maple candy.
story of the day from Thursday, March 11th, 2021
We kicked off our windy morning running, swirling, chasing, and playing much like the wind! And after a few good attempts, got a kite up in the air, waaaaaay up in the air! And watched it dodging and dancing way up there in those mighty winds. After plenty of games and run around and chit-chat time, we circled up for snack and story. Kriya shared the first half of the camping adventure full of cautionary and comedic mishaps and problem-solving… weaving in special attention to the trees and which trees are hazardous to dwell beneath on windy days, such as today:) Soon it was time to head down to camp. Once there, we got a nice fire going and continued boiling maple sap! While the sap was cooking, some kids practiced cutting wood and tending fire and another practiced carving and others played “hog-nerd” aka “spider ball”. After a nice lunch, a few kids continued tending fire and practicing skills but the main event was a child-led pop-up game of “cops and robbers”. The running and sneaking and hiding and chasing stretched throughout the cedars bendy branches without venturing into where the birches, dead ash, and poplars stood, with branches that could break on windy days. Soon it was time to gather in to sample some delicious sap. Kaia led a practice round of a new game she made up for next week in celebration of Saint Patrick’s day and the kids all joined in to practice the brand new game. And before we knew it, it was time to go.
Winter Session, Week 6
Story of the day from Tuesday, March 2nd, 2021
Morning games included kicking the ball and then zombies in the mall, tsunami in the sea, and dodgeball in the parking lot, which is now dirt, woo hoo!
Youngers attempted to slide down the large driveway of ice like penguins, it was not nearly as easy as we hoped. Once we made it down to main camp we enjoyed snack and lunch time taking turns on the slack line, playing in and on the ice shelter we made last week and exploring the crew edge.
Olders went scouting for shed deer antlers, we found 1 antler on a south facing slope and talked about how that all works. We found lots of neat buck sign, scrapes, rubs, and antler marks in the snow around a muzzle hole in the ground. Other tracks we found include crow, fox, and lots of deer.
We hiked back to camp via the railroad tracks and had lunch at our secondary camp. Then on to main camp where the kids had a riot playing spider ball, meanwhile the instructors geared up for tapping sugar maple trees using the taps we made last week from staghorn sumac.
Youngers took the creek trail today while traveling over the border walks we found some feathers in the middle of the trail, we imagine this was the remains of a predators meal. We made it up to the top of the hill to the parking lot where we sampled the sap from the small maple. Many have decided at that moment they were no longer children but baby sapsucker birds.
We then headed on up to the parking lot area where there are a handful of great big old sugar maples. The kids took turns working with the hand drill to bore holes and then got the spiles and buckets all setup for 2 trees. Next week we will have enough sap to do a little boil, our goal is to make maple candy on the last day of class!
Story of the day from Thursday, March 4th, 2021
We started the day out with lots of run-around games on the solid ground, getting warmed up and ready for the day! After morning circle, we headed straight down to our base camp and had some free time playing spider ball, feeding birds, checking our sit spots, tending the fire and playing on the slack line. Soon it was time for lunch around the big warm fire. Afterward we headed out on a brand new adventure to brand new places, wandering all through the wetland, over creeks and finding really sunny south-facing slopes to rest upon. While adventuring we tuned into our senses, practice fox walk and owl eyes and grabbed a sit spot. Then we immersed into the new landscape free playing and fort building. Some kids went with Matt to check on the Maple taps while others secretly snuck back to camp, suprising the other crew. At closing circle we passed around a spile carved from the golden wood of sumac and heard everyone’s favorite part of the day and something they observed about the spile. It was a chilly but beautiful day!
Winter Session, Week 4
Story of the day from Friday, Feb 19th, 2021
Story of the day from Thursday, Feb 18th, 2021
Winter Session, Week 3
Story of the day from Thursday, Feb 4th, 2021
We started the day out with a few games of Fire in the Forest and Otter Steals Fish while some free played with giant snowballs tucked in the pines amidst the Mourning Doves and Chickadees. Once we then joined for morning circle sharing our names and our favorite birds, kicking off our focus on birds for the day. After circle we split into 2 choice based groups, one group opted to wander and explore the wetland on the way to basecamp- they were greeted with many birds on their wanders, included a Bald Eagle that circled right above their heads and eventually made its way to camp for lunch! The second group opted to head to camp straight away and get the fire started and make homemade suet for the birds. The kids did great working together to build a 1 match fire. Once it was roaring, Kriya put on a pot of Forest Tea (made from White pine, Scotch Pine & Cedar) and reheated the fat that Tuesday’s group already rendered down. Once it was melted, it was mixed with birdseed, nuts, fruit etc to make little suet cakes the kids can all hand from trees next week. We also put up a bird feeder with high hopes of attracting our feathered friends right into camp with us so we can continue to learn from them throughout the session. The kids ate lunch, played, and helped with the suet cakes. Many wanted to start their own personal fire again like last week so we held a safe space for that as well. Their confidence and skill levels continue to grow! Soon we moved on to a big group game of capture the flag. Kaia brought a snowball maker and the snow was perfect for packing. The kids made quick work of manufacturing bucket loads of snowballs for the game. We spent the rest of the afternoon playing the game together while a couple of kids free played by a nearby Cedar… they found a dead white-footed mouse which we all got to look at and be curious about. Soon it was time to trek up the big hill for closing circle and sign out, it was a beautiful day!
Winter Session, Week 3
Story of the day from Tuesday, feb 2nd, 2021
Winter Session, Week 2
Story of the day from Thursday, January 28th 2021
Winter Session, Week 2
Story of the day from Tuesday, January 26th, 2021
After large group time in the morning, we had a fun time finding our way back to camp by following Rudy, who found us a fun “path” down to the main trail. Once we arrived at the main fire, everyone took time to explore some more around the area. Digging up ice crystals from the mud, watching the fire, playing on a sled pulling each other around, and just exploring around the creek. After lunch, by the fire, we set out to find a new location for a shelter. We all found a perfect spot not far from the main area where cedar trees had fallen. Everyone worked together to clear out the space and “tidy up” the logs around. We have a perfect start and can not wait to continue working on it next week. After construction, we hiked up the big hill following the deer trail and checking out the rabbit tracks as we went. Once we made it to the tall lookout everyone took time sliding down the hill, several times. The hill was so fast!
We finished our day climbing and playing on the large snowballs that were in the middle of the field while we waited for pickup.
Matt’s group, (name still tbd): The main morning game was krackaboom but there were lots of side games, field guide exploration, and some tree climbing. The cold wind drove us to head out earlier than normal and our group took the switchback trail to the valley bottom. As we made our way we found a mouse trail that went in and out of the subnivean, lots of probable deer tracks, a huge deposit of frozen sap, and suspicious tree holes we suspect are animal homes. In the first meadow, we took a few minutes to slide down a steep slope but the thin layer of snow was not enough padding from the rocks! When we arrived at main camp there was already a warm fire going and our group naturally spread out to their favorite hang out spots to have snack. The youngers group arrived soon after and then many interesting free play things began to happen all around camp such as ice chunk gathering, ice crystal mining, tree climbing, toboggan rides, fireside lounging, and craft projects. Things were going so well we decided to forego planned morning activities.
Winter Session, Week 1
Story of the day from Thursday, January 21st 2021
Winter Session, Week 1
Story of the day from Tuesday, January 19th, 2021
Carries & Zach’s Group (Group Name TBD!)
We had a great day exploring around the optimist club property.
We watched snow melt in the creek and warm spring, hiked in the blue marked trails and wandered down the trail after lunch to try and build a fort.
To build our fort we had to clear branches away from our location. This was a great time for everyone to practice climbing trees and moving snow. After attempts were made in building a fort we settled on a sturdy bridge instead. We have the basics down and next week we will find a better location to build a new fort. saFarther down the trail we found a great spot to try some penguin sledding. It was so fun to see everyone sliding down! We ended our day with a big hike up to the top of the hill and ended with a fun game of duck duck goose.
Matt and Gabby’s Group: (Group Name TBD: Our first day on the olders group went well, we explored our new winter territory, made new friends, and had a good old time. Right off we played a handful of games including fox and geese, eagle’s eye, and freeze tag. Afterward, we split into our 2 groups and made our way down into the valley where we set our things down and had a snack break. During our break, we swapped stories, shared our names and some fun facts from each person.
- Coming up with a new group name.
- Learning about each other, sticking together, and teamwork.
- Temperature regulation and all the little choices we can practice that help up stay warm in freezing temperatures.
- Fire building and fireside craft projects including carving opportunities.
- Wildlife tracking and learning about winter wildlife.
- Duct tape sleds!
Week 8 of Fall Session!
Story of the day from Thursdays, Oct 29th, 2020
Our last day began with kickball, it was a spirited game and also a landslide victory. Everyone played hard, for some it was kind of a new game and we learned as we went, by the end of the game most everyone was a little worn down and ready for a water and snack break.
Week 8 of Fall Session!
Story of the day from Tuesday, October 27th, 2020
At opening circle we shared stories from our sit-spots over the last week and talked about what we most look forward to this winter. That conversation may have called in the snow that would fall shortly, but who can say? Our first stop of the day was the spring and the generous shelter of white pines and maples nearby, where we enjoyed the beautiful snowfall while climbing, building nests from pine needles and playing at the spring. After lunch we set off for Otter Slide Hill, which the kids had no problem navigating to from memory, and where we would meet the other three groups for a ‘village’ afternoon.
At the base of Otter Slide Hill, we set up four stations, each led by an instructor, and the students were able to cycle through them at their own pace. Matt led an endless and spirited game of spide-rball, Carrie led crafting and drawing, Kriya led fire-making challenges, and Scott led soapstone carving. By the sounds of it, the students thoroughly enjoyed all the stations, and savored the chance to see all the groups in one place at a safe distance.
We all walked back to the lawn in a stretched-out train of students and instructors, and shared stories from each of the stations along the way. It has been a fantastic session, and it was certainly bittersweet bidding farewell to our fellow Salamanders, but we will surely cross paths again before long.
It was a fun last day. We started off our morning with a check in on how everyone was doing, and playing our best card game from Radley. The smalls of our group also did some amazing team work to climb a big maple tree on the main lawn. After the first major rain/snow storm we started our walk heading towards the botanical gardens. We were excited to check in where we started our first fall session, the secret garden! It was a tough walk as the rain and snow tried to get us to turn back, but we stayed strong and some of us tried catching the snow flakes on our tongues. It was impressive to see the amount of work that has taken place at the gardens since we began fall session, and we enjoyed seeing how the gardens have progressed all fall, from full vibrant blooms to only a couple flowers left still holding color. We ventured up to the woods after a mice walk into the labyrinth, this space has been so busy all fall we never had a chance to explore it. We took a lunch break in the big eagles nest before walking through to see all the new fairy houses that have been placed. Our afternoon adventure took place at the popular otter slide hill. We met all the other groups where we broke up into groups to participate in a free choice of activities: carving, drawing, fire building, soap stone carving, and spider ball. All the girls did a little of everything, it stayed together our group for the most part. After our walk back to the commons we were able to enjoy a big cookie while we talked about our favorite parts of the fall- the consensus was the day at the spring.
Week 7 of Fall Session!
Story of the day from Thursdays, Oct 22nd, 2020
WooHoo, what a day!
Week 6 of Fall Session!
Story of the day from Thursdays, Oct 15th, 2020
We started off with a great game of Get Gabby with pool noodles! Everyone was full speed running around and having so much fun, well maybe Gabby had a little less fun then the kiddos. For morning circle we read a story of how a young girl imagined what it would be like to be a snail crawling around. Before we went too far on our hike for the morning the kids could not resist the leaves, they needed to create a large pile so they could take a couple jumps into it.
Our hike took us up to Otter Slide hill, but on the way we had a great time practicing coming down a smaller sand hill, and took a break out of the brief rain shower. After we arrived at Otter Slide Hill, named because in the winter many children will be seen sliding down like otters on their bellies, everyone took a turn going all the way up and running down. While they rested at the bottom we were on a search for our favorite rocks. There are so many different types and colors of rocks there it was hard to choose the favorites. Lunch was a welcomed distraction from the hill as we all worked up a big appetite. After lunch some individuals took a couple more runs on the big hill while a new nature band erupted in the lunch spot. Soon all the kiddos were helping out, singing and drumming. We had quite the beautiful noise coming from the woods. The rain that came only added to the wonderful noise, creating a different sound to the mix. No one seemed phased by this rain and kept on singing.
After the rain passed we packed up and took the scenic route back to the commons. We climbed up and down many more hills, and were able to see some interesting trees and even some bone pieces. We ended our day back at the big lawn with the story of the Indian Paintbrush.
Week 6 of Fall Session!
Story of the day from Tuesday, October 13th, 2020
The Salamanders spent another fine October day together today. Sure, a day haunted by the prospect of rain that at one point had us discussing whether to build a shelter, run for the building or panic, but in the end a dry, colorful and fun day in the Commons together. We began the day with a spirited game of ‘anemones and plankton’ (which is a spinoff of ‘amphibians and insects’ — itself a spinoff of ‘sharks and minnows’), before finding a nice sunny patch for opening circle. We took turns sharing our stories from the last week of stargazing, and heard about the Big Dipper, Pleiades, Mars, Saturn, Jupiter and the thin crescent moon.
Our first stop of the day was the Botanic Garden, where we explored the hushed alcoves of the ‘stable garden’. In the pollinator garden nearby many flowers were still blooming, and insects of all sorts were busy stocking up on food. Our walk next took us into the woods to the ‘giant bird nest’, where we played a few informal games, and onward across a single-log bridge to the aspen grove beyond. At the aspen grove we chose a comfortable, dry spot to eat lunch. After lunch, word came in from the directors that rain was moving our way, and since we weren’t all dressed for wet weather, we opted to walk back to the building after some deliberation. On the walk back we watched dark rainclouds pass around the Commons, but remained mercifully dry. Back at the lawn we played a few rounds of ‘eagle eye’, that Salamander standby, and adapted it to different species. We played one round of ‘chickadee eye’, one of ‘hawk eye’ and one very short round of ‘salamander eye’ before adjourning to play among the wildflowers going to seed along the banks of the stream. The take-home challenge this week is to collect colorful leaves again, like we did the first week, and to come up with fanciful, poetic or silly names for their colors. Pay attention to how the colors and textures of the leaves have changed since September, and bring a few favorites and their names to share with the group next week. Can you catch a leaf as it drifts down from the blazing canopy?
We had a pretty relaxed morning, kicked around a soccer ball, played a few rounds of dodge ball, and chatted as we got caught up and warmed up. In our morning circle, there was a grand announcement that Kaia, after having completed her take home carving project to the best of her ability and having turned that in for a full staff review has now officially earned and received level 3 certification for knife skills! This is our highest level of certification, Kaia now has our full confidence and is able to carve independently at class and even monitor level 2 carvers. Nice work Kaia!! We went on out to the woods and stopped at a well stocked carving and crafting area. Most of our group were excited to work on some carving projects, a few of the kids were doing log balancing and lumber jack rolls nearby. We scouted around for the perfect piece of green basswood and had to improvise a ladder to harvest the perfect branch. As we scouted we also identified ironwood, beech, and sugar maple trees. We had our lunch there but decided it had gotten too cold for anymore handicraft, so we wandered on down to a nearby stream. The sun came out for a bit and we enjoyed wading in the stream, scouting around, and using the rope swing. We saw a quick flash of action in the creek, guessing it was a brook trout. We had to get back for an early pickup, so we assembled and hiked back. The rest of our afternoon was spend playing a variety of games in the lawn space, this included ‘trick or treat’, ‘mirror’, ‘pass the stick’, ‘everybodys it’, ‘noodle ninja’, ‘murder’, and more. TAKE HOME CHALLENGE: Catch a wild leaf! Thats right, catch a leaf as it falls from a tree before it hits the ground, bonus is to catch as many differently colored leaves as possible and report back next week! The previous record for leaves caught in one week by a student is 21.
The Snail Pigeons started the morning reconnecting with each other. It is amazing how much has happened after a week apart. We had some fun laughs while Radley taught us a new card game, similar to War but with a twist. We took a nice hike out to the spring where we were able to catch the sunshine, rolling down the hill, climbing trees, and play in the spring. The girls worked hard to help the flow of the spring by removing the pine needles. A tiring job as the wind was persistent so the needles kept falling from the pine up above. We took a break and a short walk down into the swamp to collect some materials to at temp cattail weaving and natural cordage. While on the walk we were able to snack on autumn olives and find wands for everyone that wanted one. With the chance of rain we headed back early to the commons where some of our group joined Matt’s in a few games of “tag” with noodles. Days like today are hard to beat, but we can not wait for next week.
Week 5 of Fall Session!
Story of the day from Tuesday, October 6th, 2020
Today was our fifth Tuesday together, and after a week of rain, we savored the clear skies and warm breeze with a good long walk, lots of games and some unexpected October flower collecting at the end of the day.
We began the day with a reprise of ‘Sharks and minnows’ from last week, except this time it was ‘Amphibians and insects’. Who knew worms could run so fast? At opening circle we each shared stories from our sit-spot, and we heard about chickadees alarming from the trees, woodpeckers at work, barred owls corresponding in the forest at dusk and gulls calling overhead. I encourage the kids to keep up the practice — there is untold richness in sitting. The first leg of our walk took us down Autumn Olive Lane, where there were still a few speckled red berries clinging to the branches, to where Kid’s Creek flows under the trail. There we looked for spawning salmon, puzzled at the sound of walnuts falling from the surrounding trees and watched crimson leaves circle the whirlpools beneath the bridge. Next we made the hike over the the aspen grove, where we spent some time on another sunny day this session, and settled in for lunch. The rattling leaves overhead provided just enough shade as we ate and told stories. The last leg of our long walk took us back to the lawn where we played a good many rounds of ‘Eagle Eye’, a favorite game among the Salamanders. At first glance, the grassy expanse dotted with trees didn’t seem to offer many places to hide, but after a round or two we found that it’s a great place to play the game. After ‘Eagle Eye’, we visited the stream and the kids collected bouquets for their parents. The take-home challenge this week is to go outside after dark or before sunrise and see if you can spot any planets. How about constellations? What phase is the moon in? Draw a picture of what you saw and bring it next Tuesday to share.
Yesterday began with a wonderful treat, Kaia brought in home made pumpkin donuts and we had some local organic cider form Omena. We swapped some stories from the week and talked about our day which was focused on archery. We teamed up and brought out a slew of archery equipment and set up a shooting range. After some brief review and instruction, we let loose on the range and sent many volleys of arrows. The first round, 35 arrows were shot and almost none of them hit the target but as things went on the vast majority of shots were on target. Throughout this we had a points tournament going, the winner got to be “teacher for the day” which has become a theme in which a new person each week gets a special leadership role after lunch. We had lunch and as I set up for archery tag the girls were chilling in the sun and the boys were pretending to be cats. We played a few rounds of archery tag which is a game similar to dodge ball but replaces the balls with foam tipped arrows and has some small targets you need to hit in order to win the game. This is a fast paced and adrenalated game which also demands a high level of focus to fire a bow arrow and dodge too. After a water break, we decided to press pause on archery and play some good old fashioned ‘murder mystery’ which is a classic school yard game. Our final archery session of the day was a capture the flag type game which was a big hit!
The Snail Pigeons enjoyed a perfect fall day on the commons. We took a long route to the Aspens where we took a break for lunch. While there everyone enjoyed running through the woods, climbing the tree, and just building connections. We traveled up to otter slide hill for afternoon adventures. Everyone enjoyed heading to the top of the hill and running down, carving sandstone, and just full on imaginary play. We got to see some great salamanders as well under the LARGE logs. When we made our way back to the big lawn we played a fun game of Animal Charades. It was great to be out in the wonderful weather!
Week 5 of Fall Session!
Story of the day from Thursdays, Oct 8th, 2020
Skunks: Today was great, fun and games ruled the day. In the morning we played ‘crackaboom’ which is a all vs all tight knit version of dodgeball, this included classic, b-ball version, and elimination. It was a riot.
Week 4 of Fall Session!
Story of the day from Thursdays, Oct 1st, 2020
Our day began with a game of ultimate frisbee, the competition was intense and the victory of team Hammersley was by a wide margin despite the best efforts of team hive. After this, we took a much needed breather and snack break.
Week 4 of Fall Session!
Story of the day from Tuesday,Sept 29th, 2020
Today marked the halfway point of this fall session, and The Salamanders spent it in fine form, enjoying the surprise sun in a favorite spot. There was spring water, clay, daylily cordage, toads and the unexpected discovery of traces from our first day together. We began the day with a spirited game of ‘Sharks and Minnows’, which is a kind of tag with pool noodles, and which gave us an opportunity to speculate on the great variety of fishes in the sea. Who knew there’s such a thing as a lemon shark? At opening circle we all shared the flowers we had collected over the last week, and we wondered at how the colors of the pressed goldenrod, aster, jewelweed, etc might appear as we flip through our journals in deepest winter. On our way out into the forest, we encountered a big group of chickadees, nuthatches and woodpeckers spread out among the trees. We froze and listened to the birds for a few minutes, struck by how many more we noticed when we were still. Our first stop of the day was a special spot where we spent the afternoon of our first day together this session. There, on the surface of a beech log, right where we had dug out rusty red decomposing wood, a pearly flush of oyster mushrooms had emerged. Nearby, we rediscovered the surprisingly well-preserved ruins of our mandalas and miniature villages. From there we walked to the spring and the nearby pines, where we would set up camp for the day. Beneath the pines we built tiny toad houses from sticks and pine needles, and in the spring we found a nice deposit of fine, gray clay, which provided plenty of material from which to fashion tableware for the toads. A nearby patch of daylilies provided good material for braiding and twisting into cordage. After lunch, Scott read aloud ‘Inch by Inch’, which is about an inchworm’s clever response to a nightingale’s riddle. The take-home challenge this week is to find a ‘sit-spot’ in the yard or on a walk with family, and to sit still there, watching and listening to whatever is going on, for at least five minutes. Bonus salamander points (I just made those up) if you sit even longer. We’ll be able to share what we heard and saw at our sit-spots during opening circle next Tuesday.
We had another great day, we began with a continuation of our skull sorting project, this time focusing on small skulls. The kids were most interested in the strange skulls like the longnose gar and the little brown bats, also really excited about the carnivores! We were also hanging out and catching up.
The Snail Pigeons took a stroll today. We headed up to the spring to see what it looks like, as no one in the group had been there for a while. We noticed the cool water, and tiny insects swimming. After a brief wave to another group we moved on to the Botanical Gardens secret garden for lunch. This has become our “go to” space. We love the colors, the stone guard dogs and the nice protection from the wind. We warmed up in the sun and enjoyed a quiet lunch. After lunch we wanted to head to the woods to work on some soap stone projects. This is a tough project as it takes a lot of time, and you have to be careful not to be too rough as the stone will break. Everyone caught on quick and dug right in. Free play and soap stone carving kept us busy until it was time to hike back for pick up
Week 3 of Fall Session!
Story of the day from Thursdays, Sept 24th, 2020
We kicked off our day with a couple of versions of soccer games. At our morning check-in/snack time we reviewed the day and goals going forward, many students are excited to have another day of fishing, perhaps next week if the weather is right.
Week 3 of Fall Session!
Story of the day from Tuesday,Sept 22nd, 2020
The Salamanders spent a fine autumnal equinox together in the sun. There were cattails, flowers, excellent hiding spots behind aspen trunks and so many apples. At opening circle we all shared our paintings, drawings and stories from a week of sky-watching. We heard stories about sunsets, sunrises, midday brilliance and even the sight of Mars amid the astonishing starfield of the night sky. We also discussed the significance of the equinox, and what astronomical factors might bring it about. The first leg of our long walk today took us through a field of cattails, where our feet stayed dry thanks to a well-placed boardwalk. Along the way we saw tons of snails climbing the stalks, jewelweed in bloom and birds migrating overhead. The boardwalk led us to the Botanical Gardens and the mysteriously serene ‘Stable Garden’ which we could only glimpse through a locked gate. After climbing a hill we arrived at our home base for the day: a huge, sprawling box elder at the center of an old apple orchard. In the tree’s kindly shade we began collecting materials from which to make hanging mobiles, like sumac blossoms, colorful leaves, stones, apples and thin, straight sticks. We spent the rest of the morning constructing our mobiles and collecting apples. After lunch, as per Salamander custom, we settled into the cool shade for story time. Scott read aloud ‘If You Want to See a Whale’, which fancifully describes the steps one might (or might not) follow to see a whale. After the story, we continued work on our mobiles and the important autumnal rite of collecting vast quantities of apples. On our way back through the forest we crossed (with all 16 feet dry!) a narrow, single-log bridge over a muddy stream, which led us to a sun-dappled grove of aspens. There we played three rounds of Eagle Eye, which involves hiding quietly while keeping the ‘eagle’ in sight. The students loved it, and we’ll return to the aspens for more of that another day. The take-home challenge this week is to collect a few flowers that are still blooming and either press them in a book or draw a picture of them, learn their names, and bring them to share at opening circle next Tuesday where we’ll savor the last colors of summer together.
Skulls! We started our day with step 1 in a project of identifying and organizing some of the animal skulls in HNS’s nature museum. We worked on mid sized animals ranging from squirrels and chipmunks to beavers and coyotes, next week I think we’ll work the small skulls. Also, of course there was a lot of chatting and catching up to do as well as some catch being played. Once we had a snack and then a restroom break, we packed up and hit the trail. We took a new route which lead to us (Kaia actually) finding a really neat chopping stone which we hope can become a stone hatchet. We decided to take a long hike and enjoy the gorgeous fall displays, all the way fire mountain to our old camp spot from many years ago. There we found a great stash of excellent bow drill carving wood and everyone was eager to do some knife work. Projects included bow drill, spider ball rackets, and of course continued work on spoon projects.
What a beautiful day. The Snail Pigeons started by exploring the plants down by the creek. We decided to collect different plants at different ecosystems in the commons today. We gathered at put them into a flower press for our project for the day. We strolled up the the woods behind the commons and practiced balancing on logs while we gathered some ferns and leaves. After the mosquitos pushed us out we headed to the big open field, this walk took us through some low lands and woods where we could gather more flowers and leaves. It was so nice to take a break in the field for lunch, there are not many hot fall days, so we took time to enjoy it out there. To cool off we took a walk to the rope swing creek. Everyone had fun splashing and exploring around the creek banks. To dry off we headed back to the big lawn to work on our bookmarks. We used paper, our plants that we gathered throughout the day and markers. We can not wait to keep exploring and working on more projects!
Week 2 of Fall Session!
Story of the day from Thursdays, Sept 17th, 2020
Our day started with playing “atsina stick” which builds focus and hand-eye coordination. Then the group wanted to play some “500” which was pretty fun as well. We circled up and everyone had an opportunity to share stories from the last week and to catch up. We then talked about the goals and logistics of the day.
- Fish ID: Research which types of fish might be found in Kids Creek this time of year? Best guess at what kinds of fish we saw?
- Knot practice: Practice the fishermans know
Week 2 of Fall Session!
Story of the day from Tuesday,Sept 15th, 2020
Our first stop of the day was to collect grapes, autumn olives and the last few elderberries to make into ink later on. Some of the fruit made it into the containers and some into our bellies. We had great opportunities to learn the difference between Virginia creeper (not edible) and wild grape (edible but so sour), and saw a bunch of birds and insects along the way. At the bridge over Kid’s Creek along Autumn Olive Lane we put down our backpacks and set up camp for the day. We found plentiful fallen box elder branches from which to fashion simple ‘pens’ and set to work mashing the fruit into ink. While the students worked on this, Scott carved beads from thin pithy twigs, which looked really cool dyed with the grapes.
During lunch on the bridge, we spotted a huge salmon swimming upstream, which steered the rest of the afternoon toward making fishing poles out of branches and yarn, hooks from twigs, sinkers from pebbles, and improvised bait from leaves and goldenrod blooms. The salmon weren’t biting, but as any angler will tell you, the pleasure is in the pursuit. Midway through the afternoon, we gathered in a sunny spot and Scott read aloud ‘The Night World’, which is about a child and their cat who wakes up early and gets to watch a beautiful sunrise.
After the story, fishing continued and some of the students made necklaces from yarn, leaves, box elder beads, and painted paper cut-outs. The results were really cool. Our walk back to the lawn took us through patches of goldenrod and aster abuzz with honeybees, weeping willows streaming in the warm wind and more autumn olives.
The take-home challenge this week is to watch the sky, and when you see it turning a pretty color (maybe at sunrise, maybe at sunset, maybe at high noon!), to draw or paint a picture of it if you have art supplies handy. If not, bring a colorful description ready to share next week. Until then!
We began our day with slacklining and tossing a frisbee until everyone had arrived and gotten warmed up. We circled together for a snack break and everyone had a chance to share a personal story and or something about pets at home. We talked about our goals for the day & everyone had a chance to add-in. After a restroom break, we headed out.
The snail pigeons started the day by making our own personal collage. It was fun to look at old magazines and find photos that fit each of our personalities. After we completed our masterpieces we headed out for our hike. Our mission for the day was to make some fresh applesauce out at the orchard. On our way out to that old orchard by the barns, we stopped for a snack of autumn olives and take a look in the secret garden at the barns. We have loved this spot for the wonderful flowers and the nice peaceful space. After gathering apples and eating lunch we decided to head back towards the woods to get out of the wind and heat up the apples. We found a perfect rest stop at eagles nest in the fairy forest. As the applesauce was cooking some kiddos created a new fairy house while the others had fun just taking it easy. We were able to enjoy our fresh applesauce before we headed back to the commons for pick up. Each week we have added some fun art projects and next week we are looking to add some more drawing as well as explore a new place in the woods, hopefully by some water.
Above: Virginia Creeper
Above: Autumn Olive (Edible).
First day of Fall Session!
Story of the day from Thursdays, Sept 10th, 2020
Our first day of class was a ton of fun! We tossed the frisbee while we waited for everyone to arrive and then kicked off our day. We took some time to talk about the session and COVID protocols, then each person introduced themselves. With that, we were off and heading to the woods. We bushwacked up a to a windswept hill that has lots of good sticks and logs from blown down trees. There we set up a rabbit stick tournament, got into teams of 2, and played several rounds. Rabbit stick may become an ongoing skill we practice, perhaps we will carve some really nice ones. From there we went in search of an ideal “spider ball” tree, we ended up having a long hike up fire hill where we took our lunch break. After lunch, we set up an activity called “spider ball” which was a huge hit. We played for a solid hour. From there, we hiked out towards the spring by way of otter slide hill. Of course, we took the opportunity to run and jump down. At the spring we went over knife carving safety rules and certification, everyone had the opportunity to do some carving. Also at this time, we were experimenting with Chipmunk traps and there was some fort building. Then it was time to head back. We arrived with a little extra time and used it to play some ultimate frisbee which concluded our day.
First day of Fall Session!
Story of the day from Tuesday,Sept 8th, 2020
Our group had a great first day together! On our way out into the forest we turned over a few wet logs at Clara’s recommendation and found a number of red-backed salamanders living amid the moist duff. So many, in fact, that we decided to name our group after them. We will from here on be known as ‘The Salamanders’.
Our first stop of the day was the stream just downhill from the spring, where Nori searched for colorful pebbles, Sylvia discovered that day lily leaves make excellent string, Maya built a miniature raft and we all had an improvised scavenger hunt. After lunch, we moved up to drier ground in a natural ‘amphitheater’ filled with young ash and beech trees, where we listened to Scott read aloud a book called ‘If You Want to See a Caribou’. It’s about learning to sit still as a tree, and the opportunities such a practice might afford. We’ll give it a try ourselves soon and report back with the early results.
The take-home challenge this week is to find a few early autumn leaves and think up a fanciful name for each color. We’ll share them at opening circle next Tuesday. See you then!
We made our way across the park and eventually to the spring area where we settled in. Once there, we harvested a basswood sapling from an overgrown thicket for carving material. We discussed the ethics of harvesting, ID characteristics of basswood, edibility of its leaves, its medicinal flowers, its bark as a fiber source, and its softwood ideal for carving. We then went over the carving safety rules and certification process before doing a good amount of knife practice time. Everyone reached a good stop point then we took a break for some good old tree climbing time.
Before lunch, we played several rounds of “fire keeper” to hone our fox walking and sneaking skills. After lunch. We moved on and selected a secret spot at the base of Otter Slide hill to build our camp. We worked on a few shelters, the main structure is really quite impressive. Other things happening there included stone and rabbit stick throwing contests, climbing and sliding on otter slide, sneaking and spying on Kriya’s group. With all this going on, time slipped away and we had to skedaddle.
On our way back, we gathered a few blackberries and swapped stories. We got back just in time to brainstorm group name ideas and democratically decide to be called “The Eagles”. We also squeezed in 1 round of a game called trickster transformer which is a naturalist info infused story game.
We began with all smiles this morning. Being a small group we wandered out pretty soon, to get out of the cold breeze. We decided that we wanted to look around the botanical gardens today as it was a moderate walk and it provided a lot of shelter space in case of rain.
We ended our day with a stop by a LARGE Autumn Olive bush for a pick me up snack, attempting to learn cartwheels or back headstands from Radley and planning for next week’s adventure.
Nature Art from the Salamander Group!.
Above: Virginia Creeper
Above: Autumn Olive (Edible).
Winter Foxes and Coyotes Story of the Day: Crusty Snow and a Fire Burrito
By Jack Hannert on Feb 6, 2019
We started our day struggling through the snow to play Crack a Boom, and that icy layer over the snow proved to hinder our travels throughout the day. We headed out, stopping for Otter Slide breaks at many a promising snow pile. We entered the woods with the intention of making a Fire Burrito, gathering plants for tea, and gathering fire materials. A Fire Burrito is a method of wrapping leaves, small sticks, and punky wood in bark to transport a coal or ember between areas. We found that our materials were a bit damp to be very effective, but we plan to revisit this technique when the conditions are more favorable.
We then went on a gathering adventure, getting together some cedar, hemlock, and rose hips for tea, and also finding some grape vines to try to make snow shoes! After gathering our plants and trying out our Fire Burrito (the materials for which proved to be a bit too damp to be very effective, but we plan on revisiting this technique when the conditions are more favorable), we were all pretty tired and hungry. We settled on a lunch at the base of Otter Slide. This meant no real fire or tea, but with a little sun and a lot of sliding we stayed pretty warm!
After lunch and project and free sliding time, we moved on to a different area. We stopped for more sliding as we worked our way toward the wetlands, also pausing to check out the tracks of a possum who seemed to be having as much trouble with the crusty snow the night before as we were today! When we got to the trail leading between the two wetlands, everyone got distracted jumping off into the deep snow there. There were running starts, icey slips, cannonballs, and a distance contest. After the fun, we gathered cattails to be dried and used as torches next week.
Gabby attempts to breathe life into the fire burrito.
Kaya crafting some snow shoes.
Logan cruisin’ the slopes.
Rowan tossing a killer snowball.
The Dickeys in a synchronized slope roll.
The Magic of Forest Kindergarten
By Emily Burke on Oct 29, 2018
Well, it’s official. Today was the last day of Forest Kindergarten for the fall session. We won’t have these kids back in class until the spring session starts back up in April, and I’m surprised by how much I already miss these tiny nature explorers. My time in the woods with them was full of wonder, excitement, and unabashed curiosity. They remind me how to look at the world with fresh eyes and teach me how to let my imagination run wild again. Naturally closer to the ground, they notice things that I completely miss, like a weird mushroom or a beautiful baby leaf. There were too many memories made this fall to count, but here are some of my favorites:
1) One cloudy day in late September, the kids created an epic obstacle course on a series of fallen logs over the creek that winds through the hemlock grove. It had rained heavily the night before, so the banks were super muddy, and the small sandbar had turned into a jelly-like quasi-solid. The kids spent a full 45 minutes testing their balance on the slippery logs and leaping across the creek onto the jiggly sandbar. When Odin The Lava Monster suddenly turned the creek water into hot, bubbling lava, they scrambled to construct a dam from clay and sticks. After working together to defeat The Lava Monster, there were high-fives all around.
2) On a rainy day just as the maples were starting to change color, I crowded around a rotting, fallen ash log with a group of four- and five-year-olds bundled up in colorful rain gear. The log was covered with slugs, and just as I was about to roll the log to look for some red-backed salamanders, Iris gently plucked a tiny slug that I had overlooked from the log, dubbed it “Baby slug,” and began rocking it in her arms while softly singing. Soon, most of the group was joining in on the sweet lullaby to this slimy critter.
3) On an unseasonably cold day, Amalia, Emily D, and I decided to hike our group to the legendary Otter Slide Hill in hopes that we could convince the kids to climb all the way to the top of this giant sand dune to keep warm. We didn’t anticipated that all 8 kids would spend the entire lunchtime crawling up and running/sliding/rolling down repeatedly. It was hard to pry them from the hill when it was time to head back, but, perhaps spurred on by the thirst they had worked up from all their playing, they collectively pretended that the aspen grove we hiked back through was a vast, hot desert. Dogs we passed became camels, willows were palm trees, and the Greenspire creek was a life-saving oasis.
4) On the last day, we headed to the cedars to play with track molds in the mud. Vowing to get good and muddy while making bear, coyote, skunk, and raccoon tracks after we had eaten, we chatted about various mammals while we lunched in the shelter provided by the cedars’ delicate, fringed foliage. Just as we were discussing red squirrels, a loud trill rang out from across the grove. I motioned for everyone to quiet down, and the kids’ eyes widened as they connected that the trill was made by the same animal we had just been talking about. Excited shouts and pointing followed as we tracked the red squirrel – no doubt perturbed by our presence in its territory – as it bounded along a fallen log across the creek, crossed the forest floor’s carpet of golden cedar fronds, and scampered up a nearby trunk to scold us from the safety of a branch.
The frosts started in earnest last week and the long nights of winter are looming near, but I’m making a concerted effort to hold onto all that the little ones have taught me this fall: splash in puddles, collect pretty leaves, catch raindrops on your tongue, investigate all bugs, and, whenever things get dull, always pretend there’s a lava monster.