Tag Archives: nature

You Can Take It (Nature, Your Interests, Life) With You (To School) AND Book Club Anyone?

The icy days at home this week put me a mood to write, ponder and get jazzed about new ideas and connections.  I had the opportunity one day to email a bit with another Charlotte mama and blogger who just got to visit Cedarsong Nature School in Washington state, the quintessential Forest Kindergarten in the US.  We both have an interest in nature based play/learning/being, and with just a tiny bit of connection, I got totally excited about creating more community around this thinking by gathering some others to read and play with me.

Since the roads were covered in ice and Amazon will take a few days to deliver the used copies of Coyote’s Guide to Connecting with Nature, and Forest Kindergartens the Cedarsong Way that I bought, I eventually ended up on my front porch with my daybook and some of Luke’s watercolors.

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For the past few weeks I have been reading a beautiful book of nature journaling, Drawn to Nature, by Claire Walker Leslie and I realized I have a great desire to do my own nature journaling.   I have kept a journal or daybook (a little messier, a little more well rounded, a little more like a writer’s notebook than an everyday journal) for many years and have spent a lot of time working with kids and other teachers on thinking about how this tool can support our writing lives.  Seeing the pages with snippits of beautiful nature watercolors surrounded by scrawled notes, observations and bits of poetry in Claire’s book really resonates with me.  These are little pieces she has found in the moment and saved through her words and visuals.   I bought the book because I thought it might be an inspiration to invite the kids to do some nature journaling… and now I am even more eager to try this for out myself!

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This is a page from Clare’s book, Drawn to Nature. You’ve really got to flip through this to see the amazing ways she visualizes.

So I decided to jump in and see what it would be like.   Mostly I just played around with getting the colors to resemble the colors of the leaves on a “red tip” bush in my front yard, figuring out the ice that was beautifully clinging is like 4.0 to my .06, but it felt really good to try.

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Exploring this tiny bit of nature journaling myself reminding me of an aspect of school I am finding so joyful.   I am finding the space while being with the kids to take up things that I have long wanted to be part of or more part of my life- being outside, doing handwork (making things with my hands), and visual arts.  I am becoming more and more cognizant of how my home and school lives intertwine.  So while a snow day or other day away from school gives me the time to linger over my reflections by myself or with other adults  long enough to let things slowly collide together into inspiration, I don’t need days off school to work on most of my interests and passions- I get to do these things at school and the kids sometimes join or they just see an adult trying out something new or practicing at something to work on her craft.

So my new-to-me books are on the way.  Wondering if any Mosaic, ALC or other folk want to read and talk some more about nature based playing/learning/being with me and/or maybe join along in trying my (or maybe for you extending your) hand at nature journaling.   Who’s in?

Either way, you’ll find me sitting alongside these writers in the woods at Roots, maybe adding a little watercolor to our words 🙂

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Into the Winter

At least for this week winter has arrived at school, and I’ve enjoyed the shift in our days that the drop in temperature has provided.  Here are a few of my observations of winter change from his week.

It seems to be the time of year for the children to naturally gravitate towards  the warmth and calm of indoors handwork like origami, braiding, writing, or doll play, blocks or working with puzzles.    And I feel an enjoyable closeness in the group as we are all sharing a smaller space more of the time, rather than ranging the large outdoor space for hours and hours.

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Since we have begun eating morning snack and lunch inside there has been a natural move to work on cleaning up after ourselves.  Outside lunches meant that crumbs could fall to the ground for ants to enjoy, but in our all-carpet classroom we work together on crumbing the table and checking the floor.  It feels good to work with kiddos on these community-help skills now, when it matters to our group, rather than as a rote routine.

The kids liked sitting all together to eat outside at the big picnic table or on a blanket.  Our inside tables are smaller, so I witnessed an inspiring collective problem solving moment as a group of 7 children worked together to rearrange furniture so that there was room for everyone.  They decided who would move what pieces, counted chairs and kids to make sure there was enough and then enjoyed the group lunch they desired.

winter1And outdoors, too, has changed and prompted new interests in old areas.  Ice was discovered, examined, chiseled, and collected around the mud kitchen and rain barrel.  The sandbox, which had been slightly damp before the freezing temperatures, was icy too, making play in the sand a new adventure.

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We had such an amazingly mild and warm fall, with so many days of playing and working together outside almost all day long, that I was a little apprehensive of our first winter at Roots.   I feel grateful to have let that apprehension pass on through, because now that winter is here I am feeling so grateful at noticing how the transition in nature is creating wonderful little changes for us at school.