Week Two at The Montessori Field School
Now that we're feeling connected and comfortable in our outdoor classroom, this week we started branching out with new activities and places to explore. The children enjoyed searching for the full spectrum of colors in nature, listening for and identifying bird calls, practicing a little yoga under a cloudless blue sky, art projects, and observing some new wildlife species this week (including our first snake!). We also ventured out to a couple of new hiking destinations, including dipping our toes in the shallows of the lake at Mount St. Francis.
You may be wondering how we decide on a day's activities or hikes. As Montessori guides, we come into the week or day with some goals in mind based on the interests and readiness of the children. However, the final itinerary is always determined by the children themselves, as their natural instinct almost always points them in the direction best for their personal development. The result is a learning experience that feels natural, alive, and meaningful. Forest Club, Violets, and Goldenrod groups have developed their own personalities and rhythms, already embracing favorite hiking destinations and activities unique to each group, but rest assured that as the year progresses every group will experience the richness of all Mount St. Francis destinations.
As promised last week, we wanted to share just a few of the behind-the-scenes benefits that are happening with mud kitchen play. What may look like just getting messy is also:
Refining gross and fine motor movements and building the muscles required for other tasks, such as properly gripping a writing utensil and controlling the hand in a way that allows for beautiful handwriting (Did you know that most children today have lower muscle tone than previous generations? Your children won't!)
Strengthening the immune system. Exposure to the microbiome present in dirt actually improves our own gut microbiomes.
Developing the 5 "C's" important for success in adult life: Collaboration, Connection, Creativity, Communication, and Critical Thinking. There are so many aspects of forest school that foster these skills, but the mud kitchen is one of our favorites.
Areas of Interest This Week
Counting: We loved hearing the church bells and practiced counting the chimes on the hour.
Amphibians: There has been quite a bit of observations and discussion around our sightings of frogs, toads, and salamanders, including what makes them amphibians and how amphibians are different than reptiles like snakes and lizards.
Leaf Shapes: One child exclaimed, "Wow, look how we've been blessed with these heart-shaped leaves!!" The fall will bring some really neat art opportunities with leaves.
The Post Office: Have you noticed that Mount St. Francis has its own post office? The children helped us check our P.O. Box this week and we talked about how Mount St. Francis is its very own township. We look forward to sending and receiving letters as the school year continues.
Nature Journals: The Forest Club made their own nature journals Thursday afternoon which turned out surprisingly well. We look forward to using them frequently for art and journaling in the weeks to come. If your Forest Club child hasn't made one yet, don't worry, we'll support them next week.
Opportunities for Involvement
Some welcome donations: stationary (blank cards/envelopes), stamps, herbal teas to prepare for colder weather, tea kettle, mortar and pestles
So excited to share that we have our Go Fund Me campaign set up with a very exciting goal for our 3-6-year-olds! We hope to raise enough money to purchase two Bunch Bikes, which are electric bicycles that are pedaled by an adult and seat six small children. They're designed for pre-schools and we think they'll be PERFECT for shuttling our youngest learners around Mount St. Francis, allowing us to safely take our explorations even further. For example, the lake is so much fun to visit but it is a challenging hike back to base camp for the young ones. Imagine us motoring there and back in a couple of Bunch Bikes! Please spread the word with family and friends!
Things to Look Forward To
Might there be rain next week? We think there might! Have that rain gear ready and make sure children have a dry change of clothes in their bag just in case.
First family gathering is September 21! More info to come!
See you next week! Heather & Kris