Since Enchanted Forest class began in September, we’ve explored the forest – real and imagined – through field trips and in-class exploration. With each class, we learn about a new mythological creature: recently, unicorns, fairies, and dragons have all made appearances!
Before I left for Iceland the last week of September, Cali, Eliza and I headed out into the Endowment Lands in search of the notoriously hard-to-find unicorn. We looked under rocks, peered into treetops, and peeked behind bushes to no avail. After reading Amy Krouse Rosenthal’s Uni the Unicorn, Cali and Eliza decided to build a home for the unicorn out of branches, leaves, and stones. Will a unicorn appear next time we visit? We’ll soon find out, when we head back to the Endowment Lands on November 1st!
After unicorns, we sought out another mysterious creature: the forest fairy! We searched in flowerbeds, amongst tree leaves, and underneath mushroom caps… and found fairies almost everywhere! While reading the lovely pop-up book How to Find Flower Fairies, by Cicely Mary Barker, we learned to look for the tell-tale signs that a fairy is nearby. With every rustling branch and each flash of light, the fairies let their presence be known. The kids, led by Ruby, a formidable fairy-finder, had a great time during their search. In fact, they were so thorough that we barely made it back to Buddings in time for snack!
After finding fairies, we moved on to hunting dragons. I couldn’t help but share my favourite children’s story, Robert Munsch’s classic The Paperbag Princess. The children helped with a dramatic re-telling of the story, each taking a turn as the infamous dragon. They breathed out their fiery breath, flew around the world at record-speed, and then fell into a deep (pretend) sleep! Emily, the oldest and wisest of the bunch, remained firmly in the role of Princess Elizabeth throughout: a feminist hero for the ages! After the drama’s finale, the kids made dragons of their own…they even breathe fire! Emily, dedicated to her role, made a princess crown…and it couldn’t have been a more perfect fit.
Wednesday’s Big Kids Club Enchanted Forest Class is a gateway into a mystical, magical woodland world. We explore the fantastical side of the forest through literature, art, and dramatic play, coupled with real-life forest excursions that spark curiosity and imagination. When children engage in dramatic play, they build skills in many developmental areas. Pretending gives them an opportunity to experiment with the different social and emotional roles life brings in a safe, nurturing environment. They build self-esteem with the knowledge that they can be anything by simply pretending!
Join us on Wednesday afternoons from 1- 4pm to get in on the fun and the benefits of play-based learning!
This summer’s Forest Fieldtrips program was such a hit, we decided to continue our woodland adventures into the fall season!
This iteration of the program includes a little more magic and mythology than the last. Each class, the children delve into the world of the enchanted forest to learn about a mythic creature who call the woods home. Every second Wednesday, we head into the great outdoors to bring these legends to life!
As a child, I was fascinated with anything and everything mythological. From forest faeries to Greek gods, I couldn’t get enough! Not only did this give me insight into the history and culture of the lands these myths originated in, it expanded my imagination in untold ways. For me, this is what makes early childhood such a special time: anything is possible! Faeries that flutter in the air like hummingbirds, elves that heal the sick, trolls that live under bridges…these whimsical creatures bring an element of wonder to each class, spurring on the curiosity of big and little kids alike.
My own interest in this strange and fascinating stuff has inspired me to take an upcoming trip to Iceland: land of elves and trolls. So, it’s only natural that we begin the program with these tiny but powerful little people. So far, we’ve covered the classic Three Billy Goats Gruff, acted out with gusto by the children this past Wednesday. “Who’s tripping over my bridge?” demanded Jasper, who made a compelling Grumpy Old Troll. With each rehearsal, the kids gained confidence and understood the story a little better each time, cooperating to make the story their own…and it didn’t hurt that Jasper had brought, by pure coincidence, a scary mask that was perfect for the role of Troll!
As we proceed into autumn, we will head into the forest to learn about more woodland creatures, real and imagined. Next Wednesday will be our first field trip of the season: we’re heading to the UBC Endowment Lands for some good old fashioned faery catching! Join us from 1-5pm on fieldtrip days and 1 – 4pm on in-class days. Check out our Fall Fieldtrips page to see when we’re heading out into the wild!
On Wednesday afternoons this summer, the brightest and bravest of the Big Kids have been exploring the temperate rainforests of Metro Vancouver, including Pacific Spirit Regional Park, the UBC Endowment Lands, and Burnaby Central Park. To see is to believe the magic of the forest! Please take a look below at what our Big Kids have been up to on their adventures:
The children took turns drawing their observations in Pacific Spirit Regional Park. Their works were filled with maple leaves, tall trees, and…tornados!
Some of our field trippers spend the afternoon “cleaning up their house” on the forest floor.
Our field trippers try to work out the physics of campfire construction as they balance sticks together.
The finished product…our campfire! The kids added leaves to give the impression of flames. Then, they found stick to roast pretend marshmallows on, handing them out to friends and teachers.
The forest nurtures this spirit of creativity and collaboration among little and big kids alike. It’s so much fun to see their imaginations run wild in the woods!
We’ve had so much fun in the forest this summer that we plan to extend our Forest Fieldtrips program into the fall. Join us on Wednesday afternoons from 1-5pm for more outdoor learning!
Remember that special outdoor space you went to as a child? Perhaps it was a backyard, a neighbourhood park, a local forest, or even a vacant lot? No matter where it may have been, you probably had a ball exploring the sights and sounds around you, setting your imagination free in the great outdoors.
I was lucky enough to grow up in the Okanagan Valley surrounded by cherry orchards and pine forests. As a kid, I spent most of my time making forts amongst the trees and running barefoot over pine needles, my dog Checkers in tow. My parents let me have the run of the place and indulged my Huck Finn fantasies, which culminated in a thwarted attempt to run away from home at the tender age of six, with only a bindle full of “supplies” to my name. Though I may have been a bit ahead of myself on the leaving home front, my parents knew one thing for sure: I didn’t lack for imagination!
In the hustle and bustle of the city, it can be difficult to find the time and space to play freely in wild places. This is what Forest School is all about: taking time out of our urban existence to feel the dirt beneath our feet, to free our bodies and minds from the confines of the man-made world. Preschool-aged children are the perfect age to whip up pies in a mud kitchen or create homes for imaginary creatures in the nooks and crannies of fallen trees. Getting dirty, climbing rocks, and making our way safely and happily through the forest are all part of the Forest School experience.
Our first walk in the woods was spent at the UBC Botanical Gardens’ Greenheart TreeWalk. We trekked through the BC Rainforest Garden to find a magical world in the trees. Hesitant at first, Roland and Locklyn learned to love crossing the “wobbly” suspension bridges which took us from one tree to another. Imaginations running wild, Josiah and Ever went back and forth between dodging icebergs to avoiding the “hot lava” of the forest floor. Despite the long walk, Jasper conquered the TreeWalk’s highest lookout point before returning to solid ground. Fears conquered and heights scaled, we headed back to Buddings to regale parents and friends with stories of our adventure.
Join us for Forest School on Wednesdays from 1-5pm this summer for some good old-fashioned forest fun! Remember to dress for a mess, and check out our Summer Journeys page for a complete list of our upcoming outdoor adventures.