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Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.  Albert Einstein

Shelters and Stories

Sarah Chaffee, October 21, 2017

Forest Preschool

This week Forest Preschool focused on shelters! They learned how to build big shelters for people, tiny ones for fairies and how different animals make shelters for themselves.

Melissa and the preschoolers making a fire to warm up their tea.

Monday was the coldest day for Forest Preschool thus far. The children did the daily Weather Check and were surprised to see how much the temperature had changed since last week. To warm up they climbed the hill overlooking Trillium Camp and went on many horsey log adventures to warmer places. “Let’s go to Africa!,” one preschooler had said. While bouncing on the horsey log, they pretended that the surrounding trees were giraffes and large bushes were rhinos.

A preschooler making a stone fairy house.

After snack the children went on an epic wander in search of the Lost Village. They traveled a long distance, stopping to observe the towering pieces of phragmites collected by the homeschoolers and to explore a shelter they believed belonged to a hunter. They trekked through the deep piles of fallen leaves and crossed the creek by Grandmother Hickory until they reached Village Camp. There they enjoyed going into the Muskrat Lodge and looking at the turtle-shaped cob oven.

Sean helping the preschoolers cut a piece of wood for their new shelter.

On Tuesday Forest Preschool relocated a shelter that used to stand near the bouncy log. They also practiced making smaller shelters with Angie, who tested their strength by pouring water on their roofs. All of the preschoolers’ shelters stayed dry! The next morning the children gathered for their Opening Circle, during which the daily mystery bag was passed around. Some of the guesses included gold, cotton candy acorns and aliens. When its contents were revealed, the preschoolers were happy to see that the mystery was pinecones!

Angie and a child closing their eyes during a game of hide-and-seek.

During snack Melissa told a story about a village of tiny people and a man who didn’t notice them at first, but when he did he was stunned by the miniature houses they had made for themselves. Towards the end of the story several turkey vultures flew over Trillium Camp, casting large shadows over the log circle. The children looked up to the sky and watched as they soared high above them. Afterwards they divided themselves into three groups- one going with Sean to work on the relocated shelter, another with Melissa to go on a nature walk in search of animal homes and the final group with Sarah building stone fairy houses.

Sean showing the preschoolers a bug he found in a log.

On Thursday the preschoolers enjoyed the warm weather and played in the creek, lifting up rocks looking for aquatic critters. They also played a fun game of hide-and-seek in the Horse Arena and made a few more fairy houses at the base of several tree trunks. Before lunch they harvested some nettle and used it to made a delicious tea that they shared during lunch.

A pot of nettle tea on the fire.


During Opening Circle on Thursday the homeschoolers discussed new observations they had made about the natural world. Many talked about the new moon, the barren trees and how the sun is rising later in the morning. Afterwards Elias shared a primitive fishing tool he made last summer and successfully caught several fish with. It was passed around the circle with one word gratitudes given by everyone.

The Guardians of the Lost Village.

After two weeks of working in their guilds, the homeschoolers enjoyed a day back with their clans. Sean and his clan embarked on a mission to find the Lost Village- a camp hidden in a dense part of the forest at 4-H Acres. Some of the homeschoolers had been there before and eagerly led the way to the secretive place. Once there they were happy to see that the shelters they had built in the past were still standing, though they needed a bit of rebuilding. They put down their bags and got to work on the structures, gathering large sticks, bark and collecting the abundance of fallen pine needles.

Homeschoolers doing a match challenge.

This clan was very protective of the Lost Village and wanted to make sure that its location remained a mystery for the other homeschoolers. When another clan made their base camp close to theirs, the Guardians of the Lost Village, as they came to call themselves, stalked them to make sure they didn’t accidently stumble upon their site. During lunch they took a break from rebuilding their shelters and defending the Lost Village and participated in a 10-second match challenge. Those who were able to keep a match lit for 10-seconds didn’t have to collect firewood, while those who failed to do so had to work together to find wood for a lunchtime fire. All of the homeschoolers were successful and Sean was sent to gather firewood by himself, though many still went to help anyways.

A homeschooler working on a carving project.

Monica’s clan made their base camp amongst the white pines, very close to where the members of the Lost Village were. They spent their day harvesting pokeberries, dandelions and other plants and used their colorful pigments to paint with. The homeschoolers made beautiful illustrations on paper and each went home with their artwork. After lunch, Hilary Joy, a Primitive Pursuits’ sub, hid herself somewhere along the path leading to the creek. The homeschoolers practiced their awareness skills by using their owl eyes and deer ears to find her. They walked the path several times until everyone had found her and then enjoyed some free-play in the creek.

Pokeberry and dandelion paintings.

Danielle and Justin’s clans teamed up on Thursday and spent the entire day focused on fire. They gathered a box of friction kits and trekked off into the woods, looking forward to a chance to improve their fire skills. The homeschoolers paired up and got to work using the frictions kits. After bit of time cheers could be heard as pairs exclaimed happily that they had gotten a coal. The clan used one of these coals to light a fire during lunch.

The homeschoolers playing an epic version of Keeper of the Keys, or in this case, Keeper of the Friction Kit.

In the afternoon they gathered near Grandmother Hickory and played an epic variation of Keeper of the Keys. In this version, Danielle and Justin sat blindfolded with a friction kit between them. Together they had to use the kit to make a coal without the homeschoolers sneaking up on them and taking a piece of their friction kit. The fallen leaves created an interesting obstacle for the homeschoolers because if Danielle or Justin heard them moving and pointed in their direction, they were out of the game. There were many silent fits of laughter, especially when a homeschooler snuck up on Danielle and Justin just as they were getting a coal and poured water all over their kit.

The homeschoolers doing and energy break at the end of Closing Circle.

At the end of the day the clans came back together for their Closing Circle. A member of each clan silently acted out what they did that day while the rest of the group had to interrupt their movements. They also passed around the goldenrod of gratitude and shared all they thankful for from the day. Justin and Sean led a fun energy break that concluded another awesome day of homeschool.

Homeschoolers going off to explore the woods.

Thanks for reading! We had fun week and are excited to see what new adventures the next one will bring.

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Need a trail guide?

We’re happy to help you navigate. Give us a call at the office (607) 272-2292 ext. 195 or use the link below

Get In Touch

Don't miss a beat, add yourself to our list to get all the latest details.