Wednesday, 5 November 2014

November:  Autumn Haiku with Kids

"Leaning" into Haiku

Autumn is a time of year that stimulates the senses.  Movement is in the air, change is occurring all around us, and the seasonal colours are brilliant.  This time of year has inspired artists such as The Group of Seven, to paint the most exceptional works of art.  It's the perfect time of year to express yourself creatively through art, poetry, writing, photography, collage, and printmaking.

Haiku (HIGH- coo) poetry is a centuries old Japanese art form, created in the shape of a small verse.  Traditional haiku are often about nature or the changing seasons.  They are meant to convey an emotion with the use of just a few words.  

A haiku poem has a total of 17 syllables divided into 3 clumps or lines.

five syllables
seven syllables
five syllables

Here is a fun lesson on syllables:

When working with small children, it's fun to "lean" into writing poetry instead of attempting to get it right the first try.  "Leaning" is a way to take small, achievable steps towards a larger goal.  These small steps help you work up to something more complex like writing haiku, even though the haiku poem is small and seems easy to write.  When you actually get down to it, it may take a lot of thought and planning to get into a poetic frame of mind.  

The LEAF Learning Badge:

* Language
* Arts
* Geography
* Science
* Physical Fitness

"LEANING" into Haiku

1.  Begin by choosing a season:  Autumn

2.  What will you focus on:  Autumn leaves

3.  Read, review, and discuss out INSPIRATIONAL AUTUMN WORD LIST (below.)

4.  Dress for the season an go on a nature hike.

5.  Tell a story by making a journey stick.

6.  Get creative:  Find a sit spot and visit that spot over a period of time to see how things change, to make observations, to take note of what you see, to remember, to collect, draw, sketch, take pictures, paint, glue and so forth.

7.  Play a game:   PERSONALITY... PERSONALI- TREE.  In autumn, trees can express their personalities by changing into flashy clothes!!  Look at the different trees to see if you can spot some awesome personali-trees.  Take out a camera and try and snap some shots of the most awesome personalities in trees.  How have the autumn leaf colours added spark to the trees?

8.  When the child has created their work of art they can begin writing or telling:

Tell what they see using just a few words (it does not have to be 5 syllables)
What feelings can they express when they see their work of art (happy, sad, excited...)?
What do they remember?
Other students might want to create their own short verse as well.

This does not have to be a haiku poem yet.  Working towards creating poetry allows students to create and to think creatively without the stress of having to produce a perfect finished product.  As you continue to follow these steps and "lean" into haiku, you will observe that the children will express themselves in a more creative and deeper sense.  The children's learning will unfold in an environment that is creative, nurturing, repetitive (in an open way), ongoing, and is responsive to their creative thought process.  

Have fun creating and learning outdoors!

Thursday, 9 October 2014


Have You Seen the Woolly Bear Caterpillar?

The Spark:

The middle of October is drawing nearer and these most interesting tiny creature can be seen scampering on the ground in nature.  It's the woolly bear caterpillar!  Careful!  You'll have to watch your step or you'll miss one as they scamper across the path at your feet.  Try not to step on them because the woolly bear caterpillars are on a mission.  Their mission:  To find a warm winter retreat under a rock, log or a piece of wood.  Follow one to see where it goes.  They sure seem to be in a hurry to get there.  

Wonderings, Hunches, Creative Thoughts, Ideas, Up-close Observations

1.  The Woolly Bear Hypothesis (Myth and Storytelling):

There is an old myth that goes something like this...  As the autumn months draw on, the sight of these tiny creatures predicts the arrival of winter.  The more woolly bears we see, the faster we should expect the cold weather to arrive.  If you are able to observe a group of them, you will take note that they have black and brown bands of coloured needles on their body.  The more dark bands they have the colder the coming winter and the fewer dark bands means that the winter will be mild.  Also, the thickness of the dark bands is said to be important.  The thicker the band the harsher the weather.  

How many woolly bear caterpillars can you find?
Make a graph that shows how many dark bands you counted on each.
Make another graph that shows how many caterpillars had thick bands.

2.  Make Observations in the Woolly Bear Caterpillar Science Laboratory:

If you would like to collect a few woolly bear caterpillars for observation, please be mindful to return them back to the exact spot where you found them so that they can quickly get back to the work at hand... finding a warm abode to overwinter in.

3.  The Woolly Bear Caterpillar Creative Journal:

4.  The Woolly Caterpillar Predicts Winter Weather:  


Based on the information you have gathered from your observations above, can you predict the coming winter weather?

Will the coming winter weather be cold or mild?  What do you think?
Make a prediction.  

What you will need:
1 string
2 eye hooks at the top of the wall to tread the string
3  tags with the children's names on each at the top of the string
4  tiny eye hooks as weights to be tied to the end of the string
5  each child should find a woolly bear caterpillar

5.  Let's explore Cryogenics and Freezing:

Click on the connection below to view video:

6.  Creative endeavours (arts and crafts):

Make a woolly bear caterpillar with pipe cleaners use brown and black to create the dark and light bands.  How many dark bands and how thick will they be?  

Use these pipe cleaner woolly bear caterpillars in the coming mapping project.

7. Let's explore habitat (social studies, geography):

Where did you find your woolly bear caterpillar?  Woodland, marsh, grassland, forest, park, hillside...
Map out the natural areas in your community according to the above noted groupings.  Use your woolly bear caterpillars made from pipe cleaners and pin them on the spot where you found them.  What kind of habitat will your caterpillar over-winter in?  Where will he find his home?



Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Inspire Creativity


Tinder Forest Nature School's
Autumn Word List

The Spark:  

With the change in season from summer to autumn comes new sight, sounds, textures, and colours.  A palpable change is in the air.  

Celebrate the change in season by using this Autumn Words List to inspire creativity, new ways of looking at nature,  new things to explore, observe, collect, make, talk about, and create.  See what is happening now in nature!  Take a closer look and see what is new.  Challenge your family, friends, classmates and school.  Collaborate in The Great Autumn Nature Quest!  What have you learned?  What can you share?

Saturday, 14 June 2014

Remembering Rocks:
Mapping Treasured Places and Spaces Outdoors

The Spark:
When the seasons changed and the wintery frost and snow melted away to reveal the earth beneath it,  we noticed small collections of rocks scattered in clusters here and there throughout the forest floor.
 These small rock collections appeared, as if by magic, and then grew into wonderful groupings that were ever so carefully chosen and placed into a specific collections during the children's free play time.  The children became secret collectors of special rocks and their act of collecting almost went unnoticed until the rock collections grew and grew into a very noticeable interest/obsession.  And so, our rock inquiry began.

On this day, we adventured outdoors to our "Adventure-Rope Tree" to look for some living forest food for our snail terrarium indoors.  We were using the ropes to access the area at the base of an incline when we noticed two rocks neatly placed at the base of the tree.  I asked the children why they were placed there and they told me they were REMEMBERING ROCKS.

I asked them what that meant and they told me that they used the remembering rocks to mark locations in the forest that they loved to go to and to point the way for friends to find.  These treasured places and spaces then became ceremoniously blessed with the placement of a remembering rock at the site where it is located.  We then began to learn about inuksuks.  As each child visited the locations for the first time they would collaboratively add a stone, carefully balancing one on top of the other to create an inuksuk.  We will be mapping these "loved spots" within the forest on a large mural.

Here is how our inquiry unfolded:

1.  Rock collections beginning to form:

2.  Children choosing special rock:
"This is my speckled rock."

3.  This is our Adventure-Rope Tree:

4.  Remembering Rocks:

5.  We learned about Inuksuks:

6.  Mapping with Remembering Rocks:

Thursday, 24 April 2014

Presence Rocks:

Children Learn, Explore, Play With Rocks

The Spark:
We started looking at rocks after noticing whorl patterns on the shells of our snails and decided to venture outdoors to look at patterns in nature.  Rocks caught our special attention!  Exploring the many facets of rocks is such a exciting endeavour because rocks come in many shapes and sizes that the variety seems endless.  

We have decided to build a rain garden that includes a variety of rocks and plants.  Rain gardens stop rain water runoff and help to filter potentially polluted water with the use of plants, rocks and soil.  

To start this provocation into rocks, we begin by reading the book, Everybody Needs a Rock by Byrd Baylor.  In the book she describes the ten rules for finding a special rock.  

Whorl pattern on snail shell

Speckled pattern on rock
"This rock looks like a giraffe!"  

Stripped pattern on rock

Take Action:

1.  Read the book, Everybody Needs a Rock by Byrd Baylor:
Have the children listen to a reading of this book on how to find a special rock.

2.  Go outdoors:
Get outdoors and find a rock.  You may have some difficulty yanking the rocks out of the ground, especially in spring, so bring out some small digging tools.

3.  Play a game called EVERY ROCK IS SPECIAL:
This game is designed to demonstrate that everything in nature has a special quality.  When they have their rock, let them notice what is special about that rock.  Why did they choose it?  They should keep what is special about that rock to themselves.  What we find special about things in nature is very personal and what we find special in something may not be special to others.  It may consist of the rocks colour, shape, pattern, smoothness, and so forth.  Place each child's rock into a bag and shake the bag.  Dump out the bag and see if they can find their special rock.  If they find it then they have found their special rock.

4.  Presence Stones:
The presence stones are used as an introductory provocation for looking at rocks.  Each child writes their name on the rock.  Everyday, upon their arrival, the child finds their rock and places it in the attendance basket.  Placing their rock in the basket is a symbolic gesture for their presence in the class and honours that child's presence as part of the group.   

Follow us as we adventure into the world of rocks!

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

The Forest Terrarium for Snails:
Dialogues with Place, Space, and Time

The Spark:  
Viewing the forest in miniature evokes images of tiny, magical creature living their lives out in places that are not usually observed by most people within the everyday bustle of human life.  This forest terrarium for snails, albeit small with respects to the vast expanse of land, rocks, moss and other woodland features, offers a peek into the life of a tiny earthly creature that can be found in most neighbourhoods at this time year, the humble but beautiful snail.  Springtime evokes a feeling of youth, of reawakening, of rebirth and renewal.  We are just in time to witness these tiny creatures wake up from their winter slumber and to create dialogues between children in place (the snail burrowing in the soil in nearby nature), space (the woodland terrarium), and time (springtime.)

Follow us as we embark on this this learning journey as the environment truly becomes the third teacher and authentic connections are forged between the child in place, space, and time.

Say hello to Shelby...

This is Shelby in his forest terrarium.  We found Shelby after he was caught in a very turbulent whirl in our salad spinner.  The salad was removed and consumed and there lay Shelby, a little tattered and worn.  Was he alive?  We created this woodland terrarium, went on an outdoor safari to find other snails (land snails), placed them all in the terrarium and waited.  Then we saw this (see image above)... Shelby.... alive, well and on a slimy trek across the forest moss in his terrarium.

How to Assemble a Forest Terrarium for Snails:

1.  What you will need:

*  A clear glass terrarium with the largest diameter that you can find
(you will get the best results with a larger container as your terrarium will hold a capacity for a more varied landscape for your snails as well as create more interest for the children)
*  Small bedrocks  (you can find small rocks outdoors)
*  Snails (you can find land snails burrowing in the mud outdoors)
*  A bag of organic soil (at this time of year the forest soil may be too compacted and wet)
*  Moss and lichen
*  Forest plants such as ferns (research local vegetation for your area)
*  Fungi (We do not recommend that you come in contact with any fungi without the advice of an expert.  At this time of year there are no visible fruiting bodies in our local woodland so we purchased mushrooms at the local grocery store)
*  Natural elements found in nature (sticks, bark, rocks, stems...)
*  A fine mist atomizer
*  Water that has been sitting out at least twenty-four hours

2.  Begin lining the bottom of you terrarium with a layer of small bedrocks:

The layer of bedrock will help absorb any water in the soil as plants are watered and keep the soil from completely compacting.  Snails do not like the soil too wet.

3.  Land Formations:
When adding your soil this would be an opportune moment to learn about land formations and those found in a woodland setting.  For added interest, make sure you have elevated areas within your woodland design.

* Children can learn about land formations and can draw-out and plan a landscaping design for the snail terrarium.

4.  Add in the local plants, moss, rocks, bark, lichen, twigs, :  
Go on a nature walk to explore the flora in your local woodland.  Only collect living specimens of plants for you terrarium with the roots intact.  Do not add rotting or decaying green matter to you terrarium as it may increase the amount of time you need to change your soil.  Everything that you will be adding is slowly breaking down but some natural elements break down faster than others.  You can create a list of local flora in your woodland and highlight those that you think your snail might enjoy.    

If moss becomes too covered in slime from the snails tracks then remove and replace to keep the environment fresh.

5.  Add the snails:
Do not close off the terrarium with a lid unless it is propped-up to allow for air circulation.  Our terrarium has a lid but we do not restrict air circulation to our snails and we also leave it open to allow for free access to our fern plant that sits adjacent to the terrarium with overhanging leaves.  Since snails are nocturnal, we will be tracking their nightly forays into the forest terrarium and beyond.

6.  Watering:
Keep your terrarium plants and moss watered but not soaked.  Spray the insides of your terrarium daily so as to keep the atmosphere humid.  Use water that has been sitting for at least twenty-four hours as snails are very sensitive.  Snails do not need a water source but we do have a small, flat shell that we fill with water each day.

7.  Feeding:  
Snails love eating green leaves and fungi.  We add a fresh slice of mushroom daily and remove old slices.  We are also in the process of researching ways of providing fresh, living greens for our snails.  

8.  Returning your snail to the wild:
This terrarium should be considered a temporary living space for your snails.  Even though snails can live up to five years, I am sure they would prefer to live in a boundless and thriving natural environment as found in a woodland setting as they did not arrive in your terrarium as per their request.  Creating a ceremonial celebration on the day that the terrarium contents and their living inhabitants are returned to the wild is a wonderful way of showing respect and care for all living things and recognizing what they have shared with us and how much we have learned from them.  It also allows you to demonstrate an model empathy and care for all living beings.  For example, if you are assembling your terrarium now and want to work towards Earth Day and then decide how many weeks from that date you can mark a day for the celebration to occur.

Follow us as we embark on new discoveries and share in the joy of learning in an outdoor classroom...

Saturday, 15 March 2014

Get Inspired: Spring Nature Connection 

The Spark:

Spring is just around the corner.  Let's play!!  Make this tiny four-leaf clover charm to wear as an emblem for spring and to welcome the coming new season.  Children take small steps in leaning to crochet tiny charms.  Learn, make, wear.  Builds self-esteem and boost confidence.

Kick-start the coming new season of spring by going outdoors on a spring scavenger hunt and don't forget to wear your new four-leaf clover shamrock charm!  Let's muster-up new questions, embark on new adventures outdoors, follow new hunches, wonder about a coming new season, spot changes outdoors, imagine, play and embrace all that is changing around us.

Crochet a Four-Leaf Clover Charm

Spring Scavenger Hunt