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

Winter Solstice Celebrations

Sarah Chaffee, December 21, 2018

Below are highlights from Primitive Pursuits' Forest Preschool and Homeschool programs from the past few weeks. Enjoy!

Forest Preschool

Jesse, a former Forest Preschool instructor, joined the group on a snowy day in November. The preschoolers showed him their fallen shelter and talked about how to fix it. Later they used branches that fell from a white pine to make a new shelter.

Two children using sticks to collect sap oozing from a tree in Trillium Camp. They observed that the sap was so sticky it could pick up pieces of snow!

The preschoolers sledding with "the big kids," also known as the homeschoolers on a very snowy Thursday. They practiced great patience while waiting their turn to go down the hill.

A former Forest Preschooler joined the group on a chilly Monday to share something she made. She put the object in the mystery bag and passed it around the circle while the children gave their guesses. "It feels hard. I think it's a bone." "A shell!" "A stick."- were just some of the guesses. After everyone one had a turn, she revealed the mystery- a beautiful fairy garden!

A child hiding behind a tree during a game of Camouflage. The preschoolers played many variations of this game throughout the fall while learning how to blend themselves into their surroundings.

Flash flood! The children of Forest Preschool know that when this is called they only have ten seconds to find a way to get their feet off the ground. These two found perfect ways to avoid the flash flood.

Melissa and two other children leading a blindfolded Forest Preschooler to a tree. In this activity, called "Meet a Tree," a blindfolded person is led to a tree and is invited to feel and smell it. They are then moved away from the tree where they can take off their blindfolds. Afterwards they can try and find the tree they met.

Zak showing two children rose hips. Forest Preschool spent a few weeks harvesting rose hips for their end-of-season project.

Colleen and a child picking rose hips and putting them in a basket. Because rose hips are found near thorns, the preschoolers had to work together to maneuver around them and helped each other when they got stuck. Some even conquered their fear of thorns!

"I'm walking like a cat," she said while crawling up a log. The children did a lot of log balancing, sometimes asking for help and other times recognizing when they could do it themselves. The children also enjoyed ascending the Climbing Hill where Forest Preschool instructors witnessed lots of teamwork and cooperation.

Melissa helping a child use a saw to cut pieces of firewood. When they had sawed through most of it, the child stood on the log to break it and would then pass the piece to Zak, who was tending the fire.

Siri, a Primitive Pursuits instructor, and a child drinking tea. The preschoolers made lots of tea this fall with ingredients they harvested from nature, like white pine and hemlock needles. They helped collect ingredients and stirred them into the cooking pot. While the tea wasn't always to everyone's tastes, many were adventurous and still tried it.

The preschoolers made tea bags as their end-of-season project! They filled two separate bags, one for themselves and one for a friend, with either peppermint or nettle tea. They also added some of the rose hips they had harvested. On the tea tags they wrote, with the help of Melissa, something they were proud of themselves for and gratitude they had for someone else. The tea bags along with cards made by their instructors, were handed out at their Winter Solstice Celebration on the last day of the fall season.


Siri and members from the Ponderosa Clan trekking through some deep snow on a Thursday in November. Later in the day the group joined Forest Preschool to go sledding.

Two homeschoolers drinking warm hemlock tea. To cool it down to drink, they made "cupholders" in the snow.

The homeschool crew liked to play group games at the end of their day. Seen here is a homeschooler trying to sneak onto the rival team's side to put out their fire, which was the object of this afternoon's game.

Fire tenders working hard to keep their flame alive after someone from the other team threw a snowball in it. To defend their fire, they could tag those who got close enough.

Siri trying to throw a snowball into the other team's fire. She outran several homeschoolers but they eventually caught up with her and tagged her, sending Siri back to her team's side.

All clans gathered every morning and afternoon for circles where they sang, gave gratitude and observed changes in nature they noticed and recorded on their phenology chart. On the second to last day of program they looked at their list of observations and saw how much had changed in the course of four months.

Some sweet silliness during Closing Circle. The homeschool group sure knows how to laugh and have a good time!

Two homeschoolers checking out a huge wolf spider they discovered moving very slowly over the snow.

Homeschoolers walking and talking on their way to the Meadow for a big group game.

Boot-skating on some ice in the Meadow!

On a particularly chilly Thursday, the homeschoolers were given a challenge- who can collect the most firewood, the kids or the instructors? Each group had to gather firewood and make a pile of it that was as tall as their tallest team member. They could also steal wood from each other's teams, which the homeschoolers found to be an effective strategy as there were significantly more of them than instructors. Here they can be seen trying to pull a log out of Jenn's hands.

The homeschool team observing their wood pile after the game's conclusion, which resulted in most of the instructors' firewood being stolen by the other team. They used this impressive firewood collection to keep a fire going most of the day and made rose hip tea and candied walnuts.

A homeschooler enjoying a magical, snowy day.

Wreaths made by the homeschoolers using various kinds of conifer needles, turkey feathers and other special objects. They displayed these wreaths in their art gallery during the Winter Solstice Celebration on the last day of the fall season.

The homeschool crew had many snowy days this fall. They spent them building snow forts, having snowball fights, making snow people and catching snowflakes on their tongues, which can bee seen here.

The lovely Sur-Thrival Clan before they adventured to Instructor Danielle's house for a day of crafting and fire challenges.

A homeschooler seeing how big of a snow ball she could make.

Homeschoolers, instructors, family and friends gathered for the Winter Solstice Celebration after sharing food during a potluck.

A homeschooler showing the clay creations, gratitude tree, basket, tie-dye and wreaths they made, all displayed in their outdoor art gallery.

A naturally dyed shirt and fabric made by the homeschoolers and hung on a line in their art gallery. They took home their creations at the end of the day.

Family and friends gathered in the Log Circle to watch a play performed by various Homeschool clan members. The young actors and actresses had costumes, sang songs and got lots of laughs and applause from their audience.

Two homeschoolers, who represented winter, bringing snow to Earth in the play.

A young fisher-woman was one of the many characters in the play.

Members of the Sur-Thrival Clan set up an archery range during the celebration. They showed off the skills they had gained over the fall and even helped teach their family and friends how to hold and shoot a bow. They also had a throwing stick range. Elias, who can be seen here with a Sur-Thrival member, helped his clan make bows, arrows and atlatls this season. The Winter Solstice Celebration was Elias' last day with Primitive Pursuits- he will be very missed by the kids he's worked with and his peers.

Family and friends of the homeschoolers passing around a basket in which they placed gratitude they had during the day's Closing Circle.

As the day and season came to a close, there were lots of goodbye hugs being given. This one was between a homeschooler and Siri, who will also be leaving Primitive Pursuits. Siri has brought so much laughter, creativity and overall happiness to this community. She will be greatly missed.

Thank you for reading the blog this fall! We had lots of fun out in the woods and are looking forward to many more adventures as winter approaches. Until next time!

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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.