Fire and Ice and Rain!
Zak Kozlowski, January 20, 2017
Tuesdqy Homeschool at West Hill
The Jay Clan continued their adventures from Fall this week by focusing on tracking the infamous Red Fox. Vulpes vulpes calls home virtually everywhere in the Northern Hemisphere, and we know that this creature found its way to West Hill, as we uncovered two piles of red fox scat along our wander. With rain and grey skies, The Jay clan looked to every conifer we could find for inspiration. We examined the cones, branches, bark, and sap of white pine, eastern hemlock. Our day concluded with some delicious white pine , hemlock, and elderberry tea. We even found a white pine limb that had recently fallen, which we carefully took off the bark and turned into armor!
Tracks and Trails
At Tracks and Trails this week, staying dry was not an option! With a week of misty skies and thawing ice, our camp was beautiful and soggy to the extreme. We tested our rain boots and pants while playing a game of log dragging and fort building. The instructors made the game exciting by daring to run past all of the kids and steal their pile of logs.
With two huge piles of wood to supply us, we built a wind wall for our camp, while others ventured completely around the edges of the beaver pond - not an easy feat!
This week found the winter explorers heading east to Hammond Hill State forest. Again we managed to find a landscape still covered in ice and snow. We set our inner compass by the sun and slid down frozen paths into the heart of a forgotten spruce plantation. The trees above and rutted ground below guided us as we tracked the land back through time. Back before the hiking trails before the logging roads, to a time when the land had been cleared for family farms. We asked the question "can a deer trail show you where people were living 200 years ago?" The apple trees said yes so we followed them to the cellar hole of an ancient homestead where a moss covered spring still flows.
Ithaca Forest Preschool
Last but not least, the Ithaca Forest Preschool was out in the soupy serene outdoors as well. We had one of our Winter Play Days on MLK JR. DAY. It was a nice opportunity to celebrate life and service, while extending our community to 20 families, both new and old to the Preschool.
As the week progressed, Red Fox showed up as our animal of the week. How would we become more like a Red Fox you may ask? On Tuesday and Thursday, the challenge was to improve our sense of smell. Katherine and Melissa made smell kits to test our noses' ability to recognize and identify scents. On Wednesday also moved like foxes over stumps and launched an ice berg raft down a wild river.
The Red Fox of course is idealized as playful and tricky, so we played some games and learned about making role-playing games of tag safe, fun, and inclusive for all. The preschoolers learn to use their words and say how they feel. Sometimes animals and silly monsters can be scary we realize, so we adjust to where each child is at emotionally and socially.