Life in the Woods

Place Based Preschool

I am thrilled to work with children to expand their experience with two things I am passionate about:  nature and creativity.  Every session we explore together through play, investigations, art, and stories.   The place based model helps children feel a sense of place by connecting and learning about the world around them.  That can mean the natural world, their local town, the local bird population, or anything around them.  The plan with the preschool sessions is to gather once a season to explore a topic within our “place.”  I also enjoy asking the children to interpret what they learn through art (inspired by Reggio Emilia philosophy.)  I have so much fun that I want to keep the experience; hence, the blog!  The blog includes post from the place based sessions or other ways and ideas to share an appreciation for nature and creativity.  Enjoy!

Life in the Woods

We met in our familiar spot in local woods.  I think I even heard someone inquire about Mr. Oak from our fall session!

place based preschool winter 2013 001Here we are pretending to be different active animals in the forest.  A porcupine waddling, a fox walking in a straight line, or a rabbit hopping.

place based preschool winter 2013 006We started our investigation looking for snow fleas (spring tails.)  This followed the springtail story the children heard from Corie.  The story highlighted the way they move through the snow.

place based preschool winter 2013 004During our search, we ended up finding more signs of other animals.  Scat and some tracks.

“Why are there so many animal things in this spot?”  E.B.

“That animal hops!”  N.W.

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We decided this could be a tunnel made from a mouse.

place based preschool winter 2013 013After our investigation, Carol and Corie invited the children to make up their own story in the woods on a small wood mural.  Some children had immediate ideas and some wanted to draw things they have seen in woods at home.

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Place Based Preschool Winter 1-Animal Adaptations

place based preschool winter 2013 014I am thrilled to work with children to expand their experience with two things I am passionate about:  nature and creativity.  Every session we explore together through play, investigations, art, and stories.   The place based model helps children feel a sense of place by connecting and learning about the world around them.  That can mean the natural world, their local town, the local bird population, or anything around them.  The plan with the preschool sessions is to gather once a season to explore a topic within our “place.”  I also enjoy asking the children to interpret what they learn through art (inspired by Reggio Emilia philosophy.)  I have so much fun that I want to keep the experience; hence, the blog!  The blog includes post from the place based sessions or other ways and ideas to share an appreciation for nature and creativity.  Enjoy!

place based preschool winter 2013 015The children arrived for our next session that is centered around “Life in the Winter”

They enjoyed some of the centers as they got to know each

other:  snow table with animals and tracks, light table, snowflakes, books, etc.

“Let’s pretend that the moose is walking through the woods.”  Caleb

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“Let’s make the snowflake with colors.”  E.B.

place based preschool winter 2013 017Then we learned about animal adaptations with the help of Friends of Merrymeeting Bay.  This is the migration circle where she wears a backpack to symbolize migration.  Others had  a down jacket to symbolize active animals, a pillow for hibernators, and an alarm clock for dormant animals.

place based preschool winter 2013 019Our investigation begins with pelts, stuffed animals, and etc. from Friends of Merrymeeting Bay.

place based preschool winter 2013 020place based preschool winter 2013 021The children were invited to sketch the animals and decide what is their most important body part to help them in the winter or survival.

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I don’t love the product of creativity. I love the process.

It is Product or Process

I am involved with a local art center and many people assume I am an artist that can produce great pieces. Actually, I am not sure I would call myself an artist, maybe a creativity…ist. I love to watch children, and others,  show their thinking and knowledge while they create.  This can happen within general art activities, but there are creative projects that allow children to imagine, create, and invent.  This process is wonderful for their problem solving skills and imagination.  Things like a Lego world, observational drawings, block castles, or other activities their minds take them. I believe this is one way children gain confidence and original ideas. They need ample time in their life when they have an idea and make it happen. They can get this through classes or by simply given  supplies and time. This is one thing I love about the Reggio Emilia approach to educating children.  The idea is to give them the room to think about their learning through the arts and at times create some wonderful experiences.  If you want more information about this process, google Lillian Katz, project approach or emergent curriculum.

I want to share one way that I stumbled upon this idea with my own child to foster his creative outlet.  We call it his Creation Station.  He is now 6 1/2 years old and I gave this to him as a Christmas present when he was four….. maybe a bit younger.  It is still his favorite activity and we have refilled the contents several times.

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The portal container is key.  We take it to grandma’s or to his room.  Very helpful.

place based preschool winter 2013 023Recently, we needed to start over.  We decided what was worth keeping and reusing and what not usable.  Then we decided on some good items to fill it.  It can be things form a craft store but also things around the house:  bottle tops, paper towel tubes, paper clips, etc.

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This is what we came up with this round.  After the recent refill, he went to work.  This time he was entertained for at least an hour.  Some of his inventions from past and now:

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A castles (he now uses for imaginative play), his attempt at making a top (inventive side), and an art collage he created for a school project.  I love the combination of imagination, art, and invention.