I have been taking Little Moo along to toddler & preschool forest school sessions for nearly two years now. Lately I have seen her adventures, exploration and play change. She enjoys finding quiet spots away from the group, her confidence has increased and she’s happy and able to go off and explore by herself without my company or support.
Today, no sooner had we arrived and Moo ventured off to find a quiet spot to make cakes for the fairies, “let’s find a secret place where no one can find us.” She sat down at the bottom of a beautiful big oak tree, and sent me off to fetch some water for the cake. I took my time doing this, happy to allow her some free unsupervised time to play and explore.
While making cakes continues to be a firm regular favorite activity, the way in which this is done has begun to change. Moo is far less interested in using the resources which ‘don’t belong in the woods’, as she puts it; rather than playing with the available pots, bowls, spades and spoons, one bowl will usually suffice, and much more attention is payed to the individual ingredients, with a carefully selected stick for stirring. She adds natural ingredients such as moss, sticks, leaves, mud, and bark.
She takes time to look at and feel the natural ingredients, and In doing so this inevitably leads to even more interesting discoveries.
Today, while breaking up a piece of tree bark which she had found on the woodland floor, Little Moo discovered moss growing on the outside and a milipede and woodlouse hiding under the moss.
This gave me the opportunity to talk about living and dead things, and habitats. Moo was able to recognise that the bark was dead but the moss growing on it was living. We talked about how the dead bark had been useful in providing a habitat for the bugs. After investigating the bugs for a while, Moo put them back under some moss and leaves, “I’ve put him back in the dark, that’s what he likes- dark, and to hide from birds.”
Finding a quiet spot away from the group proved to be fruitful in aiding our habitat exploration and discovery. We had regular visits from an inquisitive robin, and while Moo was off on a little walk to find feathers, I spotted a vole run along the leaf litter and under a large dead fallen tree. On her return, Moo tried to look for the vole, and we talked about how once again, a dead tree had become useful in providing a habitat for a little woodland creature. I asked Moo what would happen if all the trees and woodland were chopped down and gone, she answered, “the bugs would have no where to sleep and they could die”.
I have really enjoyed these quiet, unplanned times. As Moo approaches her fourth birthday in a couple of months, she is enjoying closer and longer investigations, she is keenly interested in learning about her surroundings, and is gaining the ability to spend longer time concentrating on more in depth exploration; the conversations we are able to engage in, prompted by her discoveries, are providing Moo with a good understanding of and care for the natural environment, one which I believe would be difficult to capture from reading books within walls.
‘Taking time out to listen to the birds singing in the canopy above.’
Posted by Home Grown Play