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

Hello Snow!

Sarah Chaffee, December 17, 2017

Forest Preschool

Forest Preschool enjoyed their first full week of snow at 4-H Acres! The children built snow sculptures, found and followed animal tracks and were even visited by the Winter Solstice Wizard.

The preschoolers having snack in their shelter.

On Monday morning the preschoolers enjoyed playing in the freshly fallen snow and tried to catch snow flakes on their tongues. They gathered for Opening Circle and discussed their favorite activities to do in snow. Sledding, building forts and snow ball fights were just some of their answers. When the mystery bag was passed around, each child guessed what the object could be. The bag was emptied and the "mystery" was passed around. The preschoolers each took turns looking at a piece of birch bark with a symbol on it.

Melissa making ash cakes.

When everyone had a chance to see it and still weren't sure what it was, Sarah told them that she thought it looked like a message from the Winter Solstice Wizard, an elusive being whose been known to leave people treats close to the solstice. The preschoolers deciphered and followed their first clue which led to another and another, and finally brought them to Village Camp where inside Muskrat Lodge was a basket of ingredients to make ash cakes!

The children enjoying the fresh snow at 4-H Acres. Photo taken by Melissa Blake.

On Tuesday Forest Preschool enjoyed another day of snow! They trekked up to the Horse Arena where they took turns pulling each other on sleds. The children were also introduced to tracking and practiced their skills by playing hide-and-go-seek by finding and following the footprints of those hiding.

Angie spots while the children climb up the snowy hill.

On Wednesday Forest Preschool welcomed Jesse, a Primitive Pursuits' instructor who'll be joining the preschoolers on Mondays and Wednesdays for the winter. Jesse taught the children the dangers of ice, specifically ice that isn't thick enough to stand on. He stood on top of the semi-frozen creek and had the preschoolers watch as the thin ice cracked and his feet went into the water.

Jeremiah building a fire on a cold and snowy day.

It snowed for most of the day at Thursday Forest Preschool! The children bravely climbed the climbing hill with Angie and then slid down. They also had fun finding large sticks and using them to break the ice on the frozen creek. For lunch, Jeremiah made a large fire which the preschoolers used to warm their hands and to make some delicious hot chocolate- yum!

Melissa helping the children use long sticks to break the ice on the creek.

Homeschool

The Homeschool group gathered on Thursday morning in the snow-filled log circle and discussed the joys of winter and how the cold weather brings a whole new set of activities that aren't possible at other times of year. Jesse and Emily shared what being Keepers of the Hearth means to them and how it doesn't just mean tending to a fire. "To me, being a keeper of the hearth means keeping my passions alive and chasing after what makes me feel warm and fuzzy inside," said Emily. For Teen Share, a homeschooler expressed her gratitude for her warm gear that allows her to stay comfortable in winter weather.

Opening Circle on a snowy Thursday morning.

At the end of Opening Circle, the homeschoolers separated into their groups. This Thursday the Mega Clan broke up into two smaller groups. Elisha and Elias took their Mega Clan members to the snowiest place they could find and made that their base camp for the day. Together the clan took a walk in the woods looking for materials that would make good tinder. Elias explained that while honeysuckle makes great whispies, it may not always be dead and that it's important to check if there's any green inside.

A homeschooler participating in a fire challenge.

After they each had collected some tinder, the clan ventured back to their camp where they had a five minute, one-match fire challenge. The homeschoolers cleared away the snow to create a space for their fires and were each given one match to light their tinder. Elias and Elisha helped a homeschooler light a match and showed her where to put it to ignite the tinder bundle. "Create a little door for the match at the bottom and the flame will burn what's above it," explained Elisha.

Elias helping a homeschooler light a match.

The small fires the homeschoolers had successfully created were joined together to make one large fire that they tended for the rest of the day; this became difficult when a "blizzard" came through and dumped a bucketful of snow on the fire. The homeschoolers worked together to bring the flames back by breathing on the coals and adding more wood.

Elisha breathing a fire back to life.

After surviving several of these "blizzards," the homeschooler challenged Elisha and Elias to a fire challenge of their own. They grabbed handfuls of snow and threw them on the fire until there was nothing but coals now sizzling from the wet snow. Elisha blew on the coals while Elias gathered wood to add to the small flames. After a few minutes of this, the fire was back to its pre-blizzard size.

A homeschooler standing in her group's lookout spot.

The other Mega Clan group with Danielle and Meaghan hiked out into the woods by Village Camp. There they had two hours to build a fire big enough to boil water and create a shelter. The shelter had to be big enough to fit one of the homeschoolers inside it and fortified such that when water was poured over top, it would keep its inhabitants dry. The homeschoolers had no problem building a large fire and boiling water on it. They built their shelter between two trees and used long logs, bark, moss and lots of leaves to cover it. When their time was up, one of the homeschoolers was picked to sit inside it while water was poured over top. Alas, the water did find its way through holes and cracks in the shelter's roof. During lunch the Mega Clan shared what worked, what didn't work to capture what lessons were learned from the challenge.

Clay pieces that were fired in a primitive kiln the homeschoolers helped make.

This week the People's Clan continued their crafting projects at Village Camp. They built a primitive kiln to fire the clay pieces they had made the previous week. Once they had cooled, the homeschoolers admired their beads and small figurines and added their new treasures to their trading post.

Two homeschoolers mining for crystals.

They also made an exciting discovery- a crystal mine right by their base camp! They found and crafted the perfect digging sticks and took turns digging in the ground in search for these precious minerals. The excavation unearthed some amazing finds, including a heart shaped rock.

Pine needles, pine cones and other natural objects dipped in wax and hung out to dry by the People's Clan.

The Mystery Clan ventured out to the edge of the Hemlock Forest where they set up a tarp to help keep themselves dry from the continually falling snow. They worked together to find and collect dry wood to build a fire and practiced lighting matches. They kept their fire going for most of the day as they played in their base camp, coming back to the flames when they needed to warm up.

The Mystery Clan acting out their day during Closing Circle.

For Closing Circle the clans met back up for Log Circle Theater to share some stories of the day. Members of each clan acted out highlights from their activities while the rest of the group guessed what they did. At the end, each homeschooler grabbed a leaf and threw it into the air while shouting their gratitudes for the day.

Danielle and the homeschoolers throwing snow in the air.

Thanks for reading! We're looking forward to the Winter Solstice and all of the celebrations it 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.