Waldorf Inspired Forest Preschool Program March Break 2018.
Monday March 12th and Tuesday March 13th
We began the day with challenging our fire building knowledge and discussed what it means to respect fire and fire safety. We explored different textures in fine and course kindling: cattail fluff, dried grasses, birch bark, dried twigs.. then worked with a flint and steel to ignite. Throughout this activity, i asked them to consider what elements are involved: Air (wind), earth, water (snow), fire. An introduction to the 4 cardinal directions: north, south, east, west (spatial orientation) and the morning trek lead us through the wetlands with compass in hand to collect more tinder- a preparatory task for the following morning fire building activity. I demonstrated how to use the compass to find the northerly direction and reintroduced the 4 cardinal directions once again in the wetlands to re-discover our orientation from a different space. When gathering cattail tinder, the children discovered how they made an excellent drawing and printing tool in the snow. We also walked by our neighbourhood beaver lodge and questioned what environmental friendly materials they used to build this home.
We were on our way to play camouflage in the cattails when the children found an animal trail (deer) to follow so I accompanied with a trail song which offered each child the opportunity to lead.
We returned to the in-house cookstove to warm our toes and enjoy a snack while modelling beeswax melted to a mold-able temperature. I observed small hands expressing themselves with vigour...
After snack it was all about the 'circle'...I read 'The Grand Old Tree' in a sharing circle activity with a focus on the 'Circle'. I set-up nature items in the middle of the circle that resembled circles: an egg, a nest, a piece of circular birch bark, an anise flower, a basket, a fungi. Many of the items found in the circle were also found in the storybook.
The children enjoyed a musical interlude with recorders, drums, glockenspiels and ukelele as i introduced how to use the instruments carefully. While I played african drum, the children created a beautiful butterfly scarf dance.
We headed back outdoors to demonstrate the 'fox walk' and then seek and find find some rabbit trails. We also collected birch bark for tinder. We then ventured to the barn and looked for chicken eggs...and to visit the Muscovy ducks.
During lunch I brought out my illustrations, flute, drum, feathers and told an oral indigenous legend; 'Little Badger, the Fire-keeper' with a theme about respect for fire and community. After lunch we participated in the Easter Cards wet-on-wet water colour painting activity. The children then initiated more butterfly dances and recorder music on their own initiative. I demonstrated 'Hot Cross Buns' on the recorder to offer guidance. We closed our day with an appreciation closing circle where i introduced the talking stick and circle guideline- the person holding the talking stick is the only one talking and everyone else listens. The talking stick was passed around the circle and children answered the question about their favourite part of their day...answers like building the fire, rolling down the hill, the sharing circle, painting were expressed...
We dressed into our outdoor clothes to climbed trees and the climbing apparatus while waiting for parents to arrive....What a fabulous day we had and looking forward to day 2.
Tuesday March 13th, 2018. Age 4-6 year olds
The children arrived and in a blink of an eye and absolutely no coaching they began to prepare the tinder for the morning fire building activity! This is a repetitive task that begins each day out here in the Highlands Nature Program. We ignited the fire with flint and steel and once again reviewed respect and appreciation for the elements for keeping us warm as well as reminded all of fire safety. Throughout the day, as an inquistor, I would ask the children to point to the cardinal directions to reorient them around their spatial reasoning especially with regard to the sun's position in the sky. We then ventured out to play camouflage in the cattails (hide and seek). We travelled through to the cedar grove and inspired our imaginative play while seeking Gnome homes...those gnomes know how to hide especially when we are looking for them!!
We trekked back to the in-house wood stove to cozy up and eat our snacks while i was asked by the children to re-tell the oral indigenous legend from day one (above) about 'Little Badger, the Fire-keeper' with the repetative theme of respect for fire and community. While eating snack i then introduced the children to the medicine of Poplar Buds (Common Names/ Balm of Gilead , Poplar Buds// Botanical Name- Populus spp// Family- SALICACEA// Medicinal Uses: * Burns * Cuts & Wounds * Rheumatoid_arthritis // Properties: * Analgesic * Anodyne * Anti-inflammatory * Antibacterial * AntiCancer * Antirheumatic * Astringent * Depurative/// Parts Used: Leaf buds). Poplar buds infused in oil makes a healing remedy for minor cuts and abrasions, sunburns, frostbite, and other skin care needs. We simmered the poplar buds in coconut for a couple of hours, added bees wax and shea butter and created a skin care balm. We also added some final card stock to our wet-on-wet water color Easter card paintings for the children to offer as gifts to their loved ones at Easter... we followed up with some more recorder lessons - 'Hot Crossed Buns'. Our circle sharing discussion touched on why we are all the same and why we are all very different...then each child created their own unique rhythm on the african drum. Once again, during free play the children explored the musical instruments and scarves for the dance of the butterflies.
Outdoors once again to head to the cedar grove for fairy home nature art creations. While we gathered nature items we identified cedar, grape vine, birch bark and fungi... we ensured that the fairy house materials displaced would not disturb the woodland habitat and respect and appreciation for the nature items was a topic of focus. They explored freely and found a grape-vine swing and then, of course, snow angels fit into the day's events perfectly.
Back to the house to warm up again and eat some lunch with another oral indigenous musical tale about how the turtle found his shell...the tin flute, native flute, singing bowl and drum accented the tale's characters and theme about patience and appreciation for friends and community. We packaged the medicine and reviewed its healing constituents and then in closing circle I read a storybook entitled, 'Winter Warming' (written and illustrated by Jane and John Patience) a seasonal story about Gnomes and woodland animals working together to prepare for the winter warming celebration which ended our day. It was interesting to observe the children in free play as they picked up the talking stick from yesterday and imitated how to speak only if one has the stick...put a smile on my face.
Below you will find an excerpt from some Waldorf theory that i work towards embedding into my program pedogogical approach.
Thank you for reading!
In Waldorf education the early childhood years (from birth to seven) are dedicated mainly to the physical development of the child. This comes from the understanding that the young child is a sense organ, that they experience the world wholly through their physical being, and that their physical body is still developing. Children in this age group learn through imitation, sensory experiences, movement, and free, imaginative play. Between the age of three and five there is a special change in the development of the young child, when their sense of “I” first becomes awakened. In Waldorf terminology this is known as the development of the “will” (the child’s conscious and deliberate manipulation of the physical world).