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

The Seasons are Changing

Sarah Chaffee, October 6, 2017

Forest Preschool

Forest Preschool spent the week observing the everyday changes in weather with their new Weather Check station! Every morning different preschoolers’ names, written on clothespins, were drawn and each were given a task; these included checking the rain gauge, measuring the water level in the creek, estimating what the temperature was and observing what the sky looked like. Their findings for the week were recorded on a piece of poster board.

Forest Preschool's Weather Check station.

On Monday after the Weather Check, the children enjoyed making a giant leaf pile and took turns running and jumping into it. During snack Sarah, a Forest Preschool apprentice, told a Chippewa story about how rainbows were created. Afterwards the preschoolers separated themselves into three different groups to collect firewood. The first group collected whispies, the second pencil sticks and the third gathered marker sticks. They appreciated their hard work while sitting around a warm fire during lunch.

Melissa helps the children check the rain gauge.

On Tuesday and Wednesday Forest Preschool got to practice their archery skills in the Horse Arena. They listened intently as Sean explained to them the parts of the arrow and bow and each waited their turn to hold them and aim and arrow into the field. The children also began making a fairy village amongst the base of the trees near the Horse Arena. They used mud, bark, sticks, leaves and acorns to construct and decorate their fairy houses. On Wednesday Melissa built an epic obstacle course that included a tunnel the preschoolers had to crawl through, rope they had to balance on and a tree they had to hug. They waited in line to go through the course and enjoyed seeing how fast they could complete it.

A preschooler playing with jumpseed, a plant whose seeds jump when touched.

The Thursday preschoolers observed the weather in the morning and then hiked to the Horse Arena where they played hide-and-seek and built fairy houses. They also spent some time with a Homeschool clan who showed them an injured blue jay they found. The children were respectful towards the hurt bird and hoped that it would get better. After snack they all bravely climbed the hill overlooking Trillium Camp and spent the rest of the day making magical potions using jumpseed and other nearby plants.

The children climbing the hill overlooking Trillium Camp with the guidance of Jeremiah and Angie.

Homeschool

This Thursday the homeschoolers spent the entire day with their guilds, traveling to different parts of 4-H Acres and working on various projects. They gathered close during Opening Circle for their second week of “Teen Share,” a time in the morning when older students share a special item. This week a student brought a homemade fire starter kit and said that he “carries it everywhere because it feels good to know I can start a fire wherever I go.”

Homeschoolers drawing their plans for the stovetop at Village Camp.

At the end of Opening Circle the guilds were revealed and everyone went and joined their clan for the day. Jenn and Meaghan’s group, also known as the “Construction Guild,” gathered in the Log Circle. Each student was given a piece of paper and a pen and were told to design a three burner stove. They took their time, thinking out their plans and then recording them down on the paper. The end result was an array of creative and ingenious designs. After snack they began working on their first project- breaking up a large quantity of dried clay to fix a crack in the cob oven in Village Camp.

Meaghan, a Homeschool apprentice, and homeschoolers breaking up dried clay.

They spent most of the day in the warm sun, using their bare hands, mallets and a large strainer to smash, break and sort the clay into buckets. Though the work was hard and strenuous, the homeschoolers worked together to get the job done and discussed the ideas they had for their stovetop to pass the time.

A homeschooler using a mallet to break up the clay.

Another guild also spent their day working with clay. The Pottery Guild traveled to the Cliffs where they used shovels to gather several buckets full of clay. They carried them back to the Log Circle where they added water and took turns stirring them with sticks and talking about what they wanted to make with the clay.

Homeschoolers stirring clay they harvested from the Cliffs.

In the morning the Cooking Guild went on a wander in search of wild apples trees. They found some and harvested enough to make apple pie with a date and hickory nut crust. Yum! In their base camp each homeschooler had a specific job to help with the creation of the pie.

Homeschoolers using rocks to break open hickory nuts. They used the nuts to make crust for apple pie.

Danielle and a homeschooler sorted and chopped up the apples, two built and tended the fire and the rest used rocks to crack open the hickory nuts and separated the good nuts from the bad for the crust. Their hard work paid off as they sat around their fire eating the delicious apple pie they made using ingredients they collected themselves.

A homeschooler chopping apples for apple pie.

The final guild, “A Day in the Life” led by Justin, spent their day living the lives of hunters- practicing their fox walking, archery and even atlatl skills. They made the Horse Arena their base camp and sat around the fire circle during snack while listening to Justin tell a humorous story about the first animal he hunted, a squirrel that ended up only being stunned and which proceeded to bite him.

Homeschoolers playing Keeper of the Arrows.

Afterwards they played Keeper of the Arrows where a blindfolded homeschooler sat surrounded by arrows. Those remaining practiced moving slowly, patiently and deliberately towards the arrows without being detected by whoever was blindfolded. They played until almost all of the arrows had been successfully taken.

A homeschooler throwing an atlatl.

Later in the day they were joined by Alex who helped teach the homeschoolers how to throw atlatls. They lined up and received instruction on how to correctly hold and throw an atlatl. “It’s all about the flick of the wrist,” Alex said. The homeschoolers enjoyed watching as their spears arched gracefully in the air and stuck, often with a dull thump, in the ground. Justin also helped homeschoolers improve their archery skills and were impressed by how many of them were able to hit the target. The guild built a fire and were taught by Justin and Alex how to straighten arrows using the heat of the fire. Each student took an arrow and practiced passing them over the flames and delicately bending them until straight.

A homeschooler warming an arrow over the fire in order to straighten it.

At the end of the day the homeschoolers gathered together as a tribe in the Log Circle and members of each guild gave a performance of what they learned. The “Day in the Life” Guild recited a haiku they wrote about throwing projectiles and making fire. The Cooking Guild sang two songs, both written by members of their clan, about giving thanks to the wild apples they harvested. The Pottery Guild performed an interpretive dance and chant showing their journey to collect clay. And the Construction Guild gave a description about the designs they created for the three burner stove and the hard work they put into breaking up the clay for the cob oven. Together they sang a song about the changing weather. “Oh the seasons change and the leaves they fall and I will change myself. I will give my body to the cold. The spring thaw will do me well…” They broke the circle by sending their gratitudes up into the blue, cloudless sky.

Two homeschoolers relaxing in the forest.

Thanks for reading! We're looking forward to another week of observation and discovery at Primitive Pursuits.

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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.