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Monday, January 30, 2017

Rosie's 2nd Birthday


The theme for Rosie's birthday came about because I feel the world is in need of some rainbows right now. Also, Rosie loves to colour and often asks to play a colour flash card game I found in a dollar bin at a big box store. It was admittedly a really fun party to put together.


The house was transformed into a rainbow explosion of love.




My favourite appetizer was the rainbow fruit skewers..,and the cheesies.



I didn't attempt to bake that famous seven layer rainbow cake. Those cakes look amazing, but I feared we'd all poop in technicolour. So, I kept it simple. Presenting my lopsided, double layer vanilla cake:



Happy Birthday to our colourful girl who loves all things Red, Yellow, Pink, Green, Purple, Orange and Blue.



Kids can never have too much cake in their lives-or too many rainbows.


Happy 2nd Birthday, sweet girl! It's going to be an exciting year.






Thursday, January 26, 2017

A Winter Picnic

"Sunlight, shadow, sunlight, shadow.
Cold and quiet, world of snow."
-Hazel Hutchins, Ben's Snow Song: A Winter Picnic (1987).



As a Forest School educator, I am often asked about the curriculum for our program. At Wild Roots Nature and Forest School, we plan our daily sessions, but because we take an inquiry-based approach, our emergent curriculum is built on our preschoolers' natural curiosity. Preschoolers learn best through hands-on direct experience. Our session plans allow our students to explore natural loose parts and tools, hike through various trails in the forest and build up to participating in activities like making a campfire. Our students are learning through free play in nature and exploring their own interests. Sometimes, I actively participate in their exploration and other times, when my students are engaged in an activity or play, my role is to step back and observe. Later, I document my observations and use my notes to enhance future session plans.



Last week, our students heard a woodpecker in the woods and there was interest in learning more about the bird. This week, when I asked my group what they wanted to explore at Forest School, my group decided they wanted to hike the "Pine Path" to see if we could spot our feathered friend again. I had come prepared with more information and pictures of woodpeckers for the preschoolers to look through, in case the opportunity should arise.


We didn't end up seeing or hearing a woodpecker this week, but our discussion led to more questions about how birds stay warm in the winter. We talked about how on cold days, birds fluff up to trap air in their feathers. I explained how the air acts as insulation to keep the birds warm.

"Just like our winter jackets keep us warm!" exclaimed one preschooler.

And with that, my little birds were off on a new adventure in the woods.


In the winter, we head inside our cozy cabin for snack time. Our preschoolers always request a story. Some students listen to the stories as they sit at the table eating their snacks, while others get comfortable on our wool mats, wrapped in fleece blankets. Today, we read "Ben's Snow Song: A Winter Picnic".


We sang as we hiked to the open field today. Some students collected forest treasures in their baskets along the way. When we arrived, the kids sat in the snow for a break and gazed up at the sky.
   
     "What do you think the clouds are made of?" I asked.
   
     "Clouds are made of water and ice," answered one preschooler.
   
     "No, clouds are made of marshmallows," corrected another student.

This quiet activity allowed the preschoolers to simply sit and imagine. Soon the children were up and running around the field again. There was more imaginative play on the theme of family this week. Meanwhile, a small group of boys participated in some safe rough and tumble play.


Later, the children requested to have a winter picnic for their second snack-just like in the book they had read earlier that morning!


Our second session wrapped up with a cooking show in our "Snow Kitchen".


And one final game of snow monster on our ski hill.


It is such a pleasure to explore, create and learn along side my amazing Forest School students.


Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Wild Roots Nature and Forest School



What a wonderful first day of our winter session!

The weather was unseasonably warm and the sunshine made the snow sparkle. Our preschoolers wanted to explore the forest behind our cabin, so we went on a hike through the crunchy snow. We heard a woodpecker in the distance and discovered animal tracks on the trail. Everyone paused to examine a pile of poop too.



The kids are already learning about the different seasons as they noticed how most of the trees had lost their leaves, but the pine trees did not. The children found a tree with low sturdy branches that they wanted to climb. I observed the children making their own risk assessments during this activity. A couple of our preschoolers noticed how the snow had made one of the lower branches slippery and decided on their own that they weren't comfortable climbing any higher.



During our hike, a couple of students found a large stick and together they placed it over deep footprints to create a bridge. It was amazing to observe the cooperation and teamwork between these two preschoolers.


During our hike, the children found a wide open field of untouched snow. Some children were happy to find a place to sit in the sun and make hearts in the snow, while others eagerly raced to the top of a hill and rolled all the way to the bottom. We played a hide and seek game called "Hooty Hoot" where I challenged the children to find me when I hid behind a large tree and made an owl call. This led to a discussion about camouflage.

Since the air was warm, some children removed their mitts and created tents for forest fairies out of materials we found in the woods. According to one 4-year-old, his miniature fort, complete with a bed, was designed to make sure our magical sprites could find comfort during the cold weather.



Back at the cabin, the children engaged in more imaginative play in our "Snow Kitchen". Cupcakes were baked and soups were stirred.There was a lot of storytelling during snack time today. Many children had bananas for snack and told each other their own stories through their banana phones.



At the end of the day, we sat in a gratitude circle. Everyone had a chance to hold the talking stick and explain to the group what their favourite part of the day was. At the end, we all yelled in unison "thank you forest!"


Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Christmas 2016

The days following Christmas are always cozy. I'm currently cuddled up on the couch in my red flannel pajamas enjoying a steaming cup of coffee. New toys are scattered around the living room floor and my Christmas tree lights are still on. My kids are testing out all their new toys and leftover turkey has been made into soup and sandwiches. Everything is calm, quiet and good.

Christmas moments...

We were leaving for Christmas eve mass when I realized Rosie's fancy shoes were too small for her. Luckily, her baby ballet slippers went perfectly with her pale pink dress made of tulle.



My favourite gift this year was a dress Rosie's great-grandmother made for her. The pattern is from a book published in the 1950s and it took her a year to knit. It's beautiful and looks old fashioned. I would show you a picture, but I'm making you wait until Rosie's 2nd birthday post!

I love setting the Christmas table with my mom. She does all the hard work like ironing the linen tablecloth and polishing the silverware, but I help with putting it all together. Henry and Rosie made all the place cards this year.



The Christmas tradition that I love best is our early morning walk. It was still dark when we bundled our kids in their snowsuits and headed outside. When it was time to turn around, Henry didn't want to go home! Despite knowing that Santa had come, our nature boy wanted to stay outside.



Christmas jammies. I love when these two match.


Speaking of matching, my family has a serious problem.



We're still in vacation mode until next week and I'm so happy and thankful for family.

Happy New Year, friends!

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Henry's 4th Batman Birthday

When I was pregnant with my December baby, a few people told me it was unfortunate that my baby's birthday was so close to Christmas, but I never saw it that way. I loved having a newborn in the house at Christmas time and a December birthday is exciting because it feels like the whole city is buzzing with happiness. A birthday in December means Christmas lights, glitter, good tunes and flannel pajamas!


Mother Nature even got in on the holiday spirit this year and decorated our outdoor party venue with a thick layer of fluffy, sparkling snow.


The forest transformed into Gotham City as nine little Batmans raced around the woods in search of chocolate gold coins that were stolen from the evil Riddler. The crime fighters worked as a team to decipher his riddles that eventually led them to the stolen treasure.


When the kids got hungry, we roasted hot dogs over the campfire. Homemade potato salad, pasta salad and cheesies were also on the lunch menu.



When it was time to warm up, we went inside our cozy cabin for chocolate cake and to open presents. I also had a hot chocolate station set up inside for the kids with different toppings to choose from; whipped cream, marshmallows and birthday sprinkles.


December is probably the best month to have a birthday. Even birthday decorations have a holiday flair to them!



Happy 4th Birthday Henry!


Always be yourself sweet boy. Unless you can be Batman. Then always be Batman.




Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Life Update

When I got back from the Forest School Practitioners Course in New Brunswick, I went straight to work to open Wild Roots Nature and Forest School for the fall. I continued to write articles for Ottawa Family Living magazine and in journals I keep for Henry and Rosie, but my blog fell to the bottom of the priority list. My blog is like an online scrapbook for my family, a place to jot down my feelings of the season, things our family does and the special occasions in our lives. When I click the "publish" button, I feel like I've saved those memories, kept forever for my children to read when they are older. If we're friends on Facebook or if you follow me on Instagram and Twitter, this update might seem repetitive, but I want to record all the happy highlights from the past few months.

September

We kicked off the back-to-school season with some NOT back-to-school pictures. We decided not to enroll Henry in junior kindergarten. He is thriving at Forest School and at our homeschool programs.




We signed Henry up for indoor soccer and Rosie began baby ballet. Her first recital is this weekend!


My dad surprised me and took me on a mini road trip to see Adele live in Montreal. We had fantastic seats and her show was incredible.


October

Henry got his hair cut because he wanted it short like daddy.

"Look mom, I can see my ears!" he said when he saw his reflection in the mirror.


We had a lot of adventures in October. We went to the Carleton Butterfly Show with Nannie and Uncle Mil, enjoyed Carnival Day at the Cumberland Heritage Village Museum with our homeschool group and went apple picking as a family.




Henry spent most of October wearing a tea towel cape and underwear over his pants because he wanted to be Batman. He was so excited when he got a homemade Batman costume for Halloween. He still doesn't take it off and even wears it to the grocery store. Superman was proud to have a cape just like her older brother.



November

It was a dream come true when we opened Wild Roots Nature and Forest School. I love spending my days outside in nature with my preschoolers.


Registration for our winter and spring programs is now open. Parents can order a registration package by sending an email to: wildrootsnatureandforestschool@gmail.com







December

My heart feels like it's going to burst with Christmas cheer. The kids have been busy making Christmas crafts, writing letters to Santa and going to the Parade of Lights. We also introduced a couple of new traditions this year; our Kindness Elves and we cut down our very own Christmas tree!



I'm currently in birthday party planning mode because someone is turning four in less than a week! Here's a sneak peak of Henry's 4th Batman birthday party:


Who needs loot bags when you can go home with your very own cape!?!

More to come!