This spring in Vancouver, we were finally offered a reprieve from a winter much colder and longer than we are used to. The shift was visible in the faces and play of our adventurers who beamed with excitement for each ray of sun, each wiggling worm and each new dandelion that popped up in the meadows that make up Trout Lake Park.
Spring time often sees the return of many long term adventurer’s who cannot attend during school hours, taking advantage of the later classes (thanks to the later setting sun) this time of year. For these returning children, the Cedar and Willow trees are long missed friends who offer them a place of comfort, challenge, excitement and pride all at the same time. For new adventurers, these trees create an opportunity to form a relationship with these beauties of the natural world and creates many fun new possibilities to challenge their bodies and find a new way to play off of the ground.
Our tree friends also supply a sturdy place for us to engage in play with ropes. This term, the children enjoyed creating and testing slingshots, moving supplies across the field with the pulley/bucket and balancing and climbing in a giant spider web between the trees. Each of these activities required creativity and negotiation to work with the ideas of the group; building relationships and learning about one another’s strengths, interests and skills. Sometimes, the most challenging and fun part of the day was untying all of the ropes. The children were often eager to help untie fairly complicated knots, engaging their fine motor and problem solving skills to complete this self-motivated challenge.
A stick is an amazing open ended object that can be whatever the imagination requires. During our days together, sticks were used as magic wands and lightsabers. They were gathered to create (pretend) campfires and marshmallow roasting sticks. They were used as a medium for whittling as the children worked to learn or new skill or to further master and revisit a skill learnt in previous classes.
Over at the beach, we found more friends in the sand, mud and water. The rainy winter created captivating streams running through the sand into the lake that the children utilized to create small pools and “mini-lakes” on the beach. This created many opportunities to observe the power of water and its effect on the landscapes it runs through. Some children enjoyed trying to find aquafers by digging deep in the sand, hoping to find water and measuring with sticks just how deep down the water was beneath the surface of the sand. Sand itself makes a wonderful medium for three dimensional creations, yummy treats and even practicing those letters.
We took advantage of the abundance of mud at the park this season by using it for painting. The children were able to participate in large, easel-like painting while surrounded by the beauty of the natural world. Some children even used the sheet (after everyone was done painting) to transform into a two headed ghost, working together to move around to beach as a coordinated team.
This season, we have been spending time with three common field plants; dandelion, plantain weed and clover. We have discussed what they look like, how they can help our bodies and even tasted some tea made from these very common, but very useful plants.
In the coming weeks, we will be expanding our skills into using hammers, spending more time with ropes and talking more about the plants around us and what is needed for a plant flourish. Keep adventuring!