Category Archives: Forest School

May in Spy Garden

Bright white moth

Bright white moth

A big fat skink

A big fat skink

Love in a mist about to bloom

Love in a mist about to bloom

Neon weaving (by the Spy)

Neon weaving (by the Spy)

Yellow wonder wild strawberries (these are smaller than regular strawberries but much more flavorful)

Yellow wonder wild strawberries (these are smaller than regular strawberries but much more flavorful)

Me and Baby (the resemblance is uncanny!)

Me and Baby (the resemblance is uncanny!)

Red polka dots (some type of fungus or bug eggs?)

Red polka dots (some type of fungus or bug eggs?)

I added two big lilac plants to the garden; the smell is heavenly!

I added two big lilac plants to the garden; the smell is heavenly!

I heart ladybugs!

I heart ladybugs!

Pitching

Pitching

Wind up

Wind up

Wind up

And another

Like a pro!

Like a pro!

Baby's class had a presentation on their "Animal Project"

Baby’s class had a presentation on their “Animal Project”

Part of her homemade camo gear (used to hide in the forest to spot animals!)

Part of her homemade camo gear (used to hide in the forest to spot animals!)

Art in the classroom

Art in the classroom (the Forest)

Baby and her bestie on the playground

Baby and her bestie on the playground

Loads of strawberries in the school garden

Loads of strawberries in the school garden

And check out this cool composting set-up; complete with instructions!

And check out this cool composting set-up; complete with instructions!

All the new editions in the garden made possible by Gateway Greening!

Kid-made wind chimes/bird deterrents

Kid-made wind chimes/bird deterrents

Lots of native wildflowers on the playground

Lots of native wildflowers on the playground

Turtle-saving (from the road)

Turtle-saving (from the road)

Very red lettuce

Very red lettuce

Kohlrabi

Kohlrabi

Kohlrabi is much easier (in my experience) to grow than cabbage and you can eat the leaves just like cabbage or kale

Kohlrabi is much easier (in my experience) to grow than cabbage and you can eat the leaves just like cabbage or kale

We did a good job of checking the asparagus patch regularly and getting a good harvest this year. Now just a few spears here and there still popping up

We did a good job of checking the asparagus patch regularly and getting a good harvest this year. Now just a few spears here and there still popping up

Dexie chased this guy up a tree

Dexie chased this guy up a tree

Groundhog, far from the ground!

Groundhog, far from the ground!

And look who's back! Tonguey II (I believe this is the male; haven't seen the female yet; she is even bigger!)

And look who’s back! Tonguey II (I believe this is the male; haven’t seen the female yet; she is even bigger!)

Good climber (and good camouflage)

Good climber (and good camouflage)

The garden in some golden light

The garden in some golden light

Happy weekend all!

ROA!

My daughter (known in Spy Garden as Babyzilla!) attends a Forest School. Rather than have daily themes or weekly lessons, the kids do semester-long projects on topics of their own choosing. My son (known here as The Spy!) also attended the school when he was younger so I’ve seen a wide variety of really cool projects. At the end of each semester the project comes together with some sort of event or “store” or publication or art installation or field trip. The Ocean Project concluded with a child-written play. The kids made the set, designed and made the costumes (learning to sew with the teachers’ assistance) and performed for the parents.

The Spy 2011 Ocean Project

The Spy 2011 Ocean Project

Hammerheads. The Spy. 2011

Hammerheads. The Spy. 2011

There’s been a Dog Project which concluded with parents bringing in their dogs and walking them through different stations of a Dog Spa…

Maddie (our late golden retriever) in the Reading and Relaxation Station of the Dog Spa hahahah

Maddie (our late golden retriever) in the Reading and Relaxation Station of the Dog Spa hahahah

There was a City Project, Animal Project, Dirt Project and many more (and many more to come for Babyzilla!) Often when the kids are working on a project they will write letters to various individuals or businesses asking questions or making requests to learn more about the topic. Teaching kids to seek out experts in fields they are interested emphasizes that their inquiries are part of a world outside the classroom walls (or treeline)!

From the school’s website…

Our phi­los­o­phy is based on the truth that young chil­dren are best chal­lenged in the arts and sci­ences when they are given mean­ing­ful work in the dynamic set­ting of the real world. Here, their expe­ri­ences have big impli­ca­tions. Con­tent is con­tex­tual, not iso­lated. It is all con­nected to the world that sur­rounds.

Sounds impressive. But do preschoolers really feel connected to the world beyond what they see in their immediate surroundings? Do they really feel they have the power to influence their environment? Are these concepts farfetched? The school proves over and over again it is possible!

Recently, the kindergarten class at the school was doing a “Bone Robot Project” (remember the project topics are of the kids choosing!) While this project was underway, one student, in researching his first name (Roa) came across a Belgian street artist, whose pseudonym is ROA. ROA’s art often depicts the bones and other internal aspects of animals.

ROA. Vardø-Norway Photo © by Ian Cox 2012 (source)

ROA. Vardø-Norway Photo © by Ian Cox 2012 (source)

Excerpts from an email from the school…

When Roa brought examples of ROA’s work for them to see, they were inspired. They still mention his work often, and it has influenced the direction of the project. In fact, they were so inspired, they decided to write to ROA and invite him to paint a mural at [the school]. He’s kind of a big deal in Europe, so we really weren’t expecting a reply.

ROA said yes!!!

We believe in empowering children to change the world. This is not an empty, grandiose statement. When we say “change the world,” we mean the immediate world—the world within reach. We want our students to internalize an “I can” attitude. I can climb that rock. I can build a bone robot. In short, I can imagine a change in my environment and then make it happen. We believe that fostering this attitude can lead to the more grandiose outcome later in life. Writing a letter to a well-known artist and having him accommodate the request definitely serves this purpose.

This spring ROA will be coming to the school to do a mural. So exciting!!!

ROA. San Juan (source)

ROA. San Juan (source)

The animals ROA chooses to paint are those that live in the area surrounding the location of the mural. I wonder what he will choose? A bunny? Racoon? Deer? Ladybug? Groundhog? A turtle, snake or crawfish? He’s got a lot of great options of special creatures that live right in the woods of the school’s eleven acre campus.

ROA. Barcelona (source)

ROA. Barcelona (source)

ROA. Johannesburg South Africa. (source)

ROA. Johannesburg South Africa. (source)

ROA. Belgium (source)

ROA. Belgium (source)

What makes even more exciting is that ROA has a secret identity. ROA is a pseudonym. And I just love the concept of a secret identity. Spy Garden is sort of my own pseudonym. (Or is it Mrs. Spy Garden?!) Can’t wait to watch the mural in progress and to share the final masterpiece with you all!