Sarah Chaffee, January 16, 2019
The preschoolers spent their first week of the winter session learning about white-tailed deer. They also got to meet the newest member of the Forest Preschool team- Sophia! She can be seen here teaching the group a song she wrote about deer. Together they sang "the bottom of my tail is white. I can jump really high with might. I can sense when something comes near, for I am a flighty white-tailed deer" while jumping and pretending to flash their white tails.
"We found you, Melissa!," the children yelled excitedly after searching the Meadow for her. During snack, Sarah told the group about a time she was trail running and didn't see a buck until she ran right by it! Afterwards the children practiced hiding along a trail like a white-tailed deer. Some tried to camouflage, like Melissa did, while others stayed very still and hid behind trees or honeysuckle thickets.
A preschooler pretending to be a sleeping deer. The group talked about deer being crepuscular and that during midday they like to find cozy places to rest. The child seen here found an old shelter in North Trillium and thought it would be a perfect home for a small white-tailed deer.
When the children weren't learning how to camouflage like deer, they were practicing to jump like them! In the Meadow, Melissa set up a deer obstacle course where the children had to leap over a log and a backpack. The preschoolers waited patiently for their turn to try and leap gracefully like white-tailed deer.
Some of the children were amazed to learn that white-tailed deer can jump up to eight feet high! While there were a few tumbles at first while trying to jump over the log and backpack, the preschoolers learned that a running start helped them get enough momentum to fly over the obstacle.
Sophia and several preschoolers observing some scat they found in the Meadow. After noticing its shape and color, they were able to deduce that it belonged to a white-tailed deer! During their walk, which took them to Village Camp, they found more scat belonging to a mysterious creature they will learn more about this winter.
During the holiday break, Melissa and Zak started rebuilding the shelter that collapsed in November. Zak and a preschooler can be seen here testing its strength to see if it can support a roof- it pasted the test!
Melissa reading a story about a deer to the group during lunch. She also taught the children the term "tine" while showing them an antler from a white-tailed deer. They counted three tines on the antlers. The preschoolers also got to feel the fur of a deer hide Sarah brought to share. They commented on how thick and smooth the fur was and discussed how the color helps them camouflage so well in the forest.
On Sophia's first day of Forest Preschool, the children were eager to give her a tour of Trillium Camp. They showed her the pavilion, fire circle and the climbing hill. They also taught her some of their favorite games. The children are seen here teaching "What Time is It, Fine Words Fox?" to Sophia.
The Homeschool crew gathered for their first day of the winter session and were greeted by some wintry weather. This bunch didn't let the ice and snow slow them down! In the morning they stayed warm by making a giant chain of snow angels, played a few rounds of Compass Tag and trekked through the snow in search of the perfect base camps. The Fox Tracker clan, with Jesse and Sarah, can be seen here exploring the area surrounding their secret camp.
After Opening Circle, where they were given this week's mystery track (it has three long "toes" with "claws" and one of the clues is that the creature has very good facial recognition), the group divided into two clans. Zak and Hillary-Joy's crew, which has not chosen a clan name yet, adventured out to the Hemlock Forest where they followed some animal tracks and warmed up by a large fire.
Jesse and the Fox Trackers trying to start a 1-match fire while it snowed. Together the group sang "burn fire, burn. Stoke your inner fire. Let the coal inside you rise. Blow that flame to life," over and over until...
...they got fire! Jesse is seen here giving a homeschooler a high-five for her help.
Not knowing if more snow will be coming their way, the clans met up at the end of the day to take advantage of the snowy weather and went sledding!
The homeschoolers' laughter could be heard throughout the forest as they slid down their favorite sledding hill. Some went down by themselves, while others sled in pairs and even in threes!
Warmed up and a little tired from all that sledding, the group gathered in the Log Circle and shared some stories from the day, laughed their way through a silly song and gave some gratitude. Hillary-Joy reminded everyone to spend some time in their "secret spot" and to be on the look out for this week's mystery track!
The Winter Explorers ventured to the Finger Lakes National Forest on Thursday where they focused on the art of solo wandering. Along the way they found tracks and other signs of animal activity- fisher tracks with fresh urine, beaver log drags and even some mysterious weasel tracks they weren't able to fully identify. Photo taken by Danielle Prizzi.
Thank you for reading! We're happy to be back out in the woods, tracking creatures, making shelters and warming up by fires.