Forest Preschool and Homeschool Welcome Fall!
Sarah Chaffee, September 29, 2017
Forest Preschool celebrated the first week of fall with apple harvesting, leaf raking and cider and applesauce-making! On Monday the preschoolers were excited to see that even more leaves had fallen in Trillium Camp! They enjoyed raking the leaves into giant piles and jumping in them. During free play they also liked lying in the leaves and being buried with just their faces visible. They said they felt warm and comfortable amongst the leaves. After snack time they went on an epic creek wander to a magical place they called “Rock Land.” They each found a special rock from this special place to bring back to camp to show everyone.
Preschoolers lying on a bed of freshly fallen leaves.
On Tuesday Forest Preschool said goodbye to Trillium Camp for the day and went on an exciting expedition down the creek. It was a warm day and they enjoyed feeling the cool water on their feet while they hiked through the water, under logs and over rocks. Along the way they discovered some wild apple trees and helped harvest them for a special project. The children also loved searching for crawfish, frogs and toads and showed great respect and care when handling these creatures.
A child exuberantly throwing leaves in the air.
The mystery bag on Wednesday contained two large circular objects. The children pondered what it could be while passing the bag to each other. “Two big acorns!,” one child said. “Gold!” said another. The bag was tipped over and out rolled two red apples. During snack time is was revealed that they were going to be making apple cider using Sean’s handmade cider press!
A preschooler pouring crushed apples into the cider press.
The children helped sort the apples, paying attention to ones that had holes in them from hungry insects. They helped wash the apples in a bucket and then used a large piece of wood to smash the apples into smaller pieces. Once all of the apples were crushed they poured them into two trays on the cider press.
Angie helping the preschoolers crush apples for applesauce.
After a few cranks there was enough cider to fill a gallon jug! During lunch the preschoolers enjoyed drinking the cider, many asking for seconds and thirds.
Jeremiah and a preschooler tending to the fire.
The apple celebration continued on Thursday as the children made applesauce! They worked together to sort, wash and crush the apples and also helped gather firewood to heat up their applesauce. They too enjoyed a delicious apple treat during their lunch and expressed their gratitude towards the harvested apples during their Closing Circle.
A child donning charcoal face paint she did herself.
On Thursday the homeschoolers enjoyed their second week at 4-H Acres. During their Opening Circle they took notice of how the surrounding forests had changed since the last time they gathered and observed how the squirrels, chipmunks and other creatures gathering food was a sign of the arrival of colder weather. After a song led by Danielle about giving thanks, the homeschoolers divided into their separate clans for the day. During their clan time the kids voted for their first and second guild choices which were revealed to them last week- making pottery with clay, building a roof and stove top for Village Camp, making food using wild edibles and seasonal foods and a mystery guild that would have different adventures each week.
A group of homeschoolers gathered near the tepee.
Sean and Jenn took their clan to the tepee in the Horse Arena for snack and to talk about their plan for the day. Last week they found a treasure that had been buried three years ago by another homeschool group. They decided since they had taken a treasure last week that this time they would bury one of their own and leave directions behind for others to find it. They carefully separated layers of white birch bark to use as paper to write down their clues on how to find the treasure’s hiding place.
Jenn separating layers of white birch bark to use for paper.
Justin and Megan, a Homeschool apprentice, went on an epic wander to the big creek. During their journey they harvested some butternuts and hickory nuts. They learned that some hickory nuts have a strong bitter taste, making them difficult to eat, while others are sweet and completely edible. Danielle and Elias, another Homeschool apprentice, also spent the day harvesting hickory nuts and acorns. They wandered through the Hemlock Forest, stopping every few minutes to collect the abundance of fallen nuts and adding them to their already heavy bags weighed down with their finds.
A homeschooler opening up a hickory nut she found.
During their wander Danielle pointed out several swamp white oak trees, one of her favorites, and found pointed acorns caps they talked about making into earrings. One homeschooler came across a plant he didn't know and asked Danielle what it was.
Homeschoolers reaching into their bag of acorns and hickory nuts.
They both took a piece and tried it, discussing its taste and identifying characteristics. Danielle then revealed that it was yarrow and talked about how it is used medicinally. After their harvesting adventure they returned to their camp and practiced their friction fire skills.
Danielle observing a "ghost leaf."
At Raccoon Motel Monica and Emily, a Homeschool apprentice, taught their homeschoolers the basic necessities for a base camp; shelter, food, water and fire. Together they made a shelter by hanging a tarp between some trees.
Homeschoolers decorating their hair with colorful fallen leaves.
Afterwards they talked about what kinds of wood are needed to create a fire, where are good and bad places to light a fire and how to be safe while near it.
A homeschooler gathering honeysuckle branches for fire kindling.
The homeschoolers gathered whispies and pencil sticks from a nearby honeysuckle bush while others found larger pieces of wood. Monica taught them to start off with whispies and to slowly and patiently feed the fire larger pieces.
Monica helping a homeschooler build a fire.
After they made a successful fire they put it out by pouring water over it and practiced disappearing the fire by covering up their spot with dead leaves and dirt to make it look as if they had never been there. They enjoyed a fun game of Weasel Tree by the Horse Arena before Closing Circle.
A homeschooler during a game of Weasel Tree.
At the end of the day everyone gathered in the Log Circle where each clan acted out stories from their day while the others tried to guess what they did. Instructors placed the day’s harvest in the center of the circle and together they sang a song in thanks for the fall’s abundance and all they had been able to gather.
A clan going to join their fellow tribe members for Closing Circle.
Thank you for reading! We're excited to see what new adventures next week will bring.