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

The Beginning of Fall at Primitive Pursuits

Sarah Chaffee, October 5, 2018

Forest Preschool

The children of Forest Preschool have been busy exploring the woods with their instructors Melissa, Zak, Colleen and Sarah. Together they’ve adventured through Trillium Camp and beyond, learning about the plants and animals that share this space with them. Rain or shine, even a little snow, the preschoolers have been learning about fire and what kinds of wood it needs to burn, songlining and creating landmarks to help navigate through the forest and how to feel comfortable and safe in nature.

Forest Preschool has also been observing the weather daily for the past two months by tracking changes in the creek's water level, checking their rain gauge, noticing how many layers they're wearing and observing changes in the sky; the children have recorded their findings on the Weather Check board.

When the goldenrod was still golden and the maples leaves still green, the children practiced dyeing wool with natural materials. Together they harvested goldenrod, maples leaves, pokeberries (and learned that while this is an amazing plant for dye, it is poisonous to eat), black walnuts and even onion skins. The children guessed what colors these plants would turn the wool, and the results were sometimes surprising!

During snack time, Melissa has been telling the tales of Fine Words Fox, Feel Better Butterfly, Peaceful Porcupine and Unity Unicorn. Together these characters help counsel other critters of the forest on how to use fine words (such as please and thank you), to share, to comfort and to come together. They left a bag of Peace Stones with each animal drawn on them to help remind the children of the peace-making process and to use whenever conflict arises.

Below are some picture highlights along with captions of all the things Forest Preschool has been up to!

The children of Forest Preschool playing on the Horsey Log.

Melissa explaining the Weather Check to the children during Opening Circle.

Zak working on the Weather Check with two preschoolers while Melissa helps another check the rain gauge in the background.

The Peace Stones with drawings of the characters from Melissa's peace-making stories- Feel Better Butterfly, Fine Words Fox, Peaceful Porcupine and Unity Unicorn (in descending order).

A preschooler playing with a magnifying glass. Some of the children love using them to see leaves, rocks, tree bark and many other things up close.

Zak teaching a few children how to crack open acorns using rocks.

Melissa helping preschoolers up the Climbing Hill.

A preschooler hiding behind a tree during a game of Camouflage.

A child throwing leaves in the air on a beautiful fall day.

Preschoolers observing some very squishy moss.

A child painting a throwing stick using pokeberries. The preschoolers learned that pokeberry can be great for dyeing but never for eating.

Melissa showing the children a bucket filled with wool and water. She left the wool in the bucket for a few days to clean it for dyeing.

A child helping set up a trail cam.

A preschooler playing in the creek.

Children playing with instruments during Closing Circle.

Melissa listening to a child share his gratitude from the day during Closing Circle.


The Homeschool program has had a busy fall as they've explored 4-H Acres learning what makes a good basecamp, how to harvest grapes to make grape juice, grape jelly even grape flavored gummy bears, carving throwing sticks, making bows and arrows, pottery, baskets and observing the weekly changes in nature on their phenology chart (whew that's a lot!).

The Ponderosa Clan, with instructors Monica and Siri, have adventured far and wide through the woods in search of the perfect base camp, learning along the way what does and does not make a good camp. After a few weeks of diligent searching, with some game-playing and fire challenges of course, the Ponderosa Clan found their base camp but say its location is a secret!

Base camps come in all shapes and sizes and for the Dragon Clan, with Hillary-Joy and Jenn, theirs is in the shape of, you guessed it, a dragon! This mischievous group loves to scout on other clans, sometimes even arranging their backpacks in a circle or hanging them on tree branches. When they're not scouting or camouflaging themselves amongst the trees, they're cooking delicious food over a fire. They even harvested wild grapes and Hillary-Joy made grape-flavored gummy bears!

Speaking of grapes, Zak, a grape connoisseur, has passed on his love for all things grape-related to the White Oak Clan. Earlier in the fall, they filled up large buckets with grapes, squished them to make juice and shared with members of the other clans.

And last, but certainly not least, the Sur-Thrival (a combination of "survival" and "thrive") Clan led by Danielle and Elias have kept their hands busy working on several crafting projects. With Elias, the homeschoolers have been working on making bows, arrows, throwing sticks, atlatls and learning what it takes to survive in nature. While exploring how to thrive, Danielle and her group worked with clay, wove baskets, dyed with black walnut and taste-tested different kinds of tea. Together the Sur-Thrival Clan has worked on mastering the art of a one-match fires, shelter-building and improving their overall outdoor awareness and skills.

Below are some picture highlights along with captions from their fall together.

Danielle, Hillary-Joy and three homeschoolers working on their phenology chart during Closing Circle.

A homeschooler processing cattails she harvested with the Sur-Thrival Clan earlier in the day.

Members of the Dragon Clan playing Bat and Moth.

Grape-flavored gummy bears made from harvested grapes by the Dragon Clan.

Zak pouring grape juice that he and the White Oak Clan made into eagerly waiting cups.

Pottery made by the Sur-Thrival Clan.

A homeschooler from the Ponderosa Clan covering their hands in charcoal paint.

A homeschooler from the Sur-Thrival Clan working on a bow.

Jenn helping the Dragon Clan's pumpkin breathe smoke during a Halloween celebration.

Members of the Sur-Thrival Clan showing the group their pumpkin.

The homeschoolers cheering after an epic game of Villager.

Thank you for reading! Check back weekly for future blog posts about all the exciting things happening at Forest Preschool and Homeschool.

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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.