Part 5 of a series of posts that share how one Early Childhood Educator and her colleagues bring some of the children in their care to Assiniboine Forest once a week for 6 weeks to offer them an experience with Forest School principles in play.
When we got to the forest this day, we saw the remnants of last week‘s fire. The field of grass that we followed to our forest hideouts was black and crunchy as the children walked cautiously over it. On the dark, dead looking ground, there was a lot of movement. We paused on our walk to observe that the field was covered in tiny spiders! They skittered every which way, hungrily munching on the tinier bugs that made homes in the charcoal-y grass.
The children picked up burnt branches and were instantly covered in soot, looking like warriors already with their dirty hands and shirts. Many children chose to carry those grimy sticks around with them for the afternoon.
As we approached our typical entrance to the forest that leads to the bridge and fairy houses, the staff and I realized that we were all wearing shorts, and that the ticks and poison ivy would be hard to avoid. We decided, sadly, that we would have to avoid the off-trail hiking instead.
We were heading down the cement path that leads to the marsh, when I remembered that we could keep on our fire/destruction theme of the day and visit the location of the man-made forest fire from earlier this year. On the way we wondered whether or not the forest would still look burnt or if it would be green again. The children’s hypotheses were split about 60/40 in favour of green. I suspected the life in the ‘dead’ grass might have given some children the idea to hope for new life in the forest fire location.
When we reached the boardwalk where we could get the best view, we were all so pleased to see that the forest indeed did start to re-grow. The tall leaf-less trees would serve as a reminder that severe damage was once done here.
While we were on the dock, the children took a rest to peer into the marshy waters and look for life in there too!
They identified water gliders, spiders and tadpoles on and in the water and laid there peacefully for several minutes.
Just before we got back in the bus we had our resident grass blower give the kids a nature-based music lesson! It wasn’t as easy as it looked! It’s now on my forest school bucket list to master this skill.
Over all, despite our obstacles, yet again, we had a rich educational experience without planning a thing. The cycles of life in nature are some of our greatest teachers and can best be learned immersed in the cycle itself.