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

Winter Solstice Celebrations

Sarah Chaffee, December 22, 2017

Forest Preschool

On Monday Forest Preschool enjoyed a 4-H Acres blanketed with freshly fallen snow. They quickly discovered that it was great packing snow and tried to make the "biggest snowball on earth." Together the children pushed the ever-growing snowball across the field in front of the oak tree until it was too big for them to move. The preschoolers turned their large snowball into a snowman and decorated him with pine cones, pine needles and small pebbles.

Decorated bags containing the childrens' handprint candles and dyed wool.

In Opening Circle the following day, the preschoolers observed the significant change in weather- all of the snow was gone! All that remained of the previous day's snowman was a small pile of partially melted snow. The children used the remaining snow to make mini snow people. Afterwards they headed down to Trillium Camp where they braved the climbing hill, which had become slippery from the melted snow. They climbed one by one, helping each other along the way until they had all reached the top.

A preschooler wearing his rabbit hide necklace.

The children spent Wednesday preparing for a winter solstice potluck they were having at the end of the day with their parents and siblings. They each decorated a bag with some gratitude and then filled them with their handprint candles and wool they dyed during the first week of Forest Preschool. Afterwards, the children gathered pine cones and pine needles to adorn the tables with inside Kiwanis for their celebration. When their had parents arrived, the children sang "Love the Earth," one of their favorite songs, and then went inside to enjoy some tasty treats with their loved ones.

A fairy house built by Jesse and the preschoolers.

Thursday was yet another day of celebration for Forest Preschool! After weeks of tanning and smoking rabbit hides, they were finally ready to be turned into necklaces. The children went on a wander to find special nature gifts to place inside their rabbit hide pouches.They used baskets to collect moss, small rocks smoothed by the creek, garlic mustard and acorn caps. They wore their necklaces to Closing Circle where their parents joined them and all together sang "Wood, Stone, Feather and Bone" before joining the homeschoolers for an epic feast!

Jeremiah and a preschooler making rabbit hide necklaces and filling them with special items.


The homeschoolers spent the first part of their day preparing for Thursday afternoon's winter solstice potluck with their family and friends. They planned an opening circle and activities for their guests to participate in. They also gathered beech tree leaves, dried goldenrod and pine cones to make table center pieces for their potluck.

A homeschooler dancing during Opening Circle.

When everyone had arrived, they gathered inside for food and conversation. Afterwards the homeschoolers led their guests outside for an Opening Circle where they sang "Wood, Stone, Feather and Bone." Some of the homeschoolers jumped in the middle of the circle and danced along. They also shared some favorite stories with their family and friends about the things they cooked, built and the games they played throughout the fall. At the end of the circle, the homeschoolers directed their guests to three different activities they had prepared. The first was to gather around a warm fire and enjoy some hickory milk. This warm drink was made using hickory nuts the homeschoolers gathered during their second week of program.

Cracked hickory nuts used to make hickory milk.

The second activity was a friction fire station where the homeschoolers could teach their guests how to create a fire using a friction kit. Below is a sequence of three photos showing a homeschooler and her father working together to make a small fire.

A homeschooler and her father using a friction kit.

A homeschooler's father breathing on a coal.

A homeschooler and her father admiring the fire they made.

The final option was for the homeschoolers' guests to venture to Village Camp. There family and friends warmed their hands up by the rocket stove and were explained by the homeschoolers how they made it using cob and decorated it using broken pieces of pottery. They also shared stories about when they made a delicious curry and roasted hickory nuts with it.

Jenn warming her hands by the rocket stove.

The homeschoolers also gave a tour of the numerous trading posts they had built throughout Village Camp using large branches and logs. Within each trading post was a variety of crafts the homeschoolers had made, which included clay figurines, candles and wax ornaments.

One of the items made by the homeschoolers and up for trade at one of their many trading posts.

After their guests had explored the different activities, the homeschoolers gave a loud coyote howl to gather everyone back for Closing Circle. This was Jenn's last day with Primitive Pursuits, a community she's been a part of for three years. Her creativity, compassion and kind spirit were honored during this time. Jenn shared her gratitude with the group for all of the things the homeschoolers have taught her and thanked them for inspiring her on a daily basis.

Honoring Jenn and all her amazing talents she's shared with Primitive Pursuits.

Justin asked the group to think about something they were grateful for from the day and to place a hand on their heart when they were ready to share. People expressed gratefulness for the sun and the warmth it brings, for time with family, for friendships and for fresh air.

Melissa, a Forest Preschool instructor, and her son during Closing Circle.

Together the group gave a resounding coyote howl and said their goodbyes until next year.

Homeschool gathered with their family and friends.

Thank you for reading! We hope everyone has a wonderful holiday and we'll see you all in the new year.

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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.