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

Shelters and Snow

Sarah Chaffee, November 16, 2018

Forest Preschool

Last Saturday, parents and preschoolers gathered at 4-H Acres for Forest Preschool's annual Ancestor Potluck. Each family brought a dish to share that holds significance to their family and together ate, shared ancestral stories and even built a new shelter in Trillium Camp! They also gathered dry fire wood, fixed a very leaky wood box and so much more! The Forest Preschool staff is so grateful to the preschool families who helped make Trillium Camp even more beautiful.

Parents and a child helping build a new shelter in Trillium Camp during Saturday's Ancestor Potluck. Photo taken by Melissa Blake.

A child helping to gather materials for the shelter. Photo taken by Melissa Blake.

While it's still technically fall, it definitely didn't feel like it this week at Forest Preschool. On Tuesday, children were greeted by the falling of large, wet snowflakes and spent the morning making a village of snow people, learning how to make snowballs and seeing how many snowflakes they could catch on their tongues. After wondering what animals do in the snow, the children helped find a new location for their trail cam. They picked this new spot after finding a deer track in the snow and decided to place the camera on a nearby tree. Each day the preschoolers will check it to see if the trail cam has captured any animal activity.

The children eating snack in the shelter they built during the Ancestor Potluck.

Children playing near the tepee on a snowy day.

The Forest Preschoolers continued their adventures in the snow on Wednesday. During Opening Circle they transformed themselves into chipmunks, pretending to gather food in their cheeks and searching for a warm place to hibernate for winter. Once in Trillium Camp, the children used shovels and buckets to make snow cakes, snow castles and snow people. Some children were curious about what would happen when snow is thrown in the creek. They put snow in buckets and carried it over to the water, tossing the snow in and anxiously waiting to see what would happen. The children noticed that the snow changed colored and seemed to disappear! The young scientists conducted more experiments, testing to see what would happen when mud is added to snow and learning how to test the slipperiness of ice.

Melissa and the preschoolers sliding down the Climbing Hill.

A child holding the gratitude hoop during Closing Circle.

Brrrrrr! Thursday was the chilliest day of preschool thus far! The children kept moving by playing several rounds of Chipmunk Tag. In this game the preschoolers pretend to be chipmunks running from burrow to burrow while a hungry fox, an instructor, chases them. The chipmunks were fast and sneaky as they moved past the fox without getting tagged. The preschoolers also kept warm by following tracks they found in the snow. "We're like detectives," one exclaimed as they closely followed a set of tracks leading to a red oak tree. They counted the toes of the prints, made guesses about how big the animals was and looked for similar tracks nearby. After a long day of exploring, experimenting and adventuring, the children gathered around a fire for lunch and warmed up their hands and toes while sharing stories of their day.

The children waiting on the Bouncy Log for "blast off" at the end of the day.


The Homeschool crew bundled up for a chilly Thursday in the woods. The Sur-Thrival Clan took advantage of the considerable change in weather to practice their fire-building skills. They split into two groups, each giving each other the challenge of collecting wood, building and tending a fire while half the group was blindfolded. They had 40 minutes to complete the challenge and were both successful in making fire! Afterwards the homeschoolers decided to test their instructors, Danielle and Elias, and asked them to start a fire while only using their left hands. They spent the rest of their day playing epic games of Everybody's It Tag and Wa!, a fun circle game that involves staying on beat and fast reflexes.

The homeschool crew together at Closing Circle.

The Ponderosa Clan spent their day on the edge of the Hemlock Forest in Cedar Camp where they too made a fire. The homeschoolers also harvested hemlock needles and used them to make tea, with lots of honey of course! They kept warm by playing Forest Fire, Camouflage and other fun games.

While the rest of the homeschoolers stayed at 4-H Acres, the Dragon Clan went back in time! They traveled to Monkey Run where they became archeologists and discovered old pieces of pottery, oil lamps, and other treasures they wish to remain a secret. They also finished their clay creations and were able to take them home at the end of the day.

Finished pottery made by the Dragon and Ponderosa Clans.

Guest instructor Barbara Ann filled in for Zak's White Oak Clan and offered them a new challenge. While enjoying a long sit spot along the cliffs of Monkey Run, she invited them to to come up with one line of poetry inspired by the moment and to memorize it (too cold for pencils!). When they came together again, they each shared what they had created, in sequence and without practicing, and something magical happened. So, at Closing Circle, the clan recited their poem in just the same way:

Dancing on the edge of a beautiful existence

Leaves falling

Peaceful leaves under frozen water

Snow powdered log

Trees all around me reaching to the sky

On the edge of this treacherous yet wonderful cliff

With emptiness stretching out of either side

For eternity

Snapped sticks like forests falling

Empty like a hollow tree

Full like a flower overflowing with nectar

For once, for evermore

I am at peace with spirits unknown

One leaf at a time

I gained the knowledge I needed to live

A life full of natural beauty

Jenn leading the group during Closing Circle.

Thank you for reading! We welcome winter and all the tracking, snow fort-building, warm tea-making and happiness it brings.

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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.