Rain, Rain, Stay and Play!
“When life throws you a rainy day, play in the puddles!” -Winnie the Pooh
Oh how much joy and excitement a puddle can really bring to a rainy day! The moment our learners arrived, they spotted a puddle and instantly we knew we had found our attraction for the day. Our source of education and entertainment stemmed from the splashing, skipping, and soaking the giant puddles provided for us.
We huddled together to discuss what we were most excited about before we ventured towards the woods, and the learners each shared different reasons for their love of the rain. One learner expressed gratitude for the rain and how it helps our trees and plants thrive. Another learner was happy the rain could turn an ordinary day into one of adventure and imagined herself as a mermaid splashing her tail about. One of our leaders shared how she enjoyed the smell of the rain and everyone stopped to ponder what they thought it smelled like to them.
After circling up, we took a walk in the wonderful raindrops towards our favorite spot in the woods. Our home away from home has really become something special for our learners. The pride and ownership they have over this space is incredible to watch unfold. They have turned our spot into an amusement park with attractions they have created and invited us to play in. There is, of course, the zip line attraction, a hammock that provides a swing ride of a lifetime,a water slide, a ropes course that can offer opportunities to show off and try out any gymnast-imagined stunts, and now a headquarters/house/homebase/den built (just like the second little pig’s house) entirely out of sticks!
The added bonus of a rainy day called for a new way to enjoy each of these attractions. The chill in the air was also a different way to experience each of these activities they have come to love and look forward to each visit into the woods. Some learners chose to run up and down a little hill towards homebase to keep their bodies warm and blood flowing. Other learners chose to encompass themselves in the hammock swing to huddle together and stay warm as they enjoyed being swung by others. A few stayed under our shelter to stay dry and enjoy a warm drink they had packed.
But no matter which way they decided to go, they all landed back in the giant puddle by the end of class. Splashing about with giant smiles on their faces. Eager to get soaked and continue to swish through the puddle. There is a Norwegian Proverb that says “There is no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing.” It was evident that, with the right gear and the right mindset, we can all enjoy life’s rain puddles.
Last week, we also had the opportunity to revisit our fire circle and to practice new tool skills. As the learners walked up to our fire circle, they were surprised that a fire had been started by one of our leaders. They were excited to learn that on this day, we would be roasting organic apples dusted in cinnamon over the fire. But first, we had to find the right tools to do the roasting. We spoke about the importance of the right length and width of a roasting stick and then we chatted about why we need to ensure our sticks are made sanitary by whittling prior to putting an apple on them. Each interested learner, was shown individually how to whittle sticks with peelers and took pride in creating their very own roasting stick. From there, they heated up apples and some declared, “those apples were amazing!” A feeling that is akin to having a delicious meal after a long hike. They worked hard and were rewarded for their efforts in a way that was meaningful for them.
We also took the time last week to create our “Forest School Oath”, where learners used their handprints to agree to ways to best 1. Take Care of Themselves, 2. Take Care of Each Other and 3. Take Care of Mama Earth. Some agreed to drink water when they were thirsty, to help their friends when they are in need, to pick up litter and to take care of animals. One of our many hopes at Forest School is to create future Earth stewards that care for the environment. But they must first love the planet before they can save it. I wholeheartedly believe we are up for the task, because as our Aishling Forest School song goes, “We do our best work, in times of need- let’s work together, you and me.”
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