George Takei recently posted something to his Facebook wall that I simply could not resist sharing. Any funny teacher pics, really. This one made me laugh especially, since I'm the worst when it comes to bringing stuff to school. Caps, corks, lids, and pens; cups, containers, tins and bags. If it's a thing, I want it. I have everyone I know collecting magazines for me (collage opportunity!), and whenever I see a big box, I immediately ask, "Can I have that box?" with the zeal of a true fanatic.
Today was one of those days where I had collected enough stuff to actually take it into school. In my bag of goodies, there were yogurt containers (containing water bottle lids and tin cans), Semester at Sea catalogs, scratch paper (always useful), big game dice, a paper tray, and the forest. By that I mean pinecones, leaves, pine needles and twigs, mulch and acorns and bark and dirt. It was lovely.
It is forest and mountain exploration week, just in time for December. Also, snow. It didn't stick, thank goodness, but it did snow, and the air was freezing! My hands weren't happy. The kids were, though, and that's all that matters, right?
During our morning circle, I introduced my kids to the forest. We couldn't go to it, so I brought the forest to them. It included all the things I mentioned above as well as some plastic bug counters (in real colors!). We discussed what we could smell, see, feel, and hear (though we definitely did not taste), and explained what they reminded us of. Since the colors of the forest are predominantly greens and browns, I added some paint chips (which I snag every single time I find myself in a paint department of any sort) in these colors to their art center.
In their science center for exploration time, I put the forest items on a tray with some magnifying glasses and "forest journals". The kids were able to trace, draw, or make rubbings of the items they saw. They described them to each other, and then used teamwork to make the best rubbings they could. As a lesson, it was pretty fantastic. We're keeping the science journals in our center all week.
Last, we painted with evergreens today (after learning what evergreens were on our freezing cold nature walk). The kids got to experiment with different types of art materials, getting creative with their brushes. They discovered that stroking the twigs across the paper created many thin trails, while dabbing them caused dozens of tiny speckles or lines, making for some pretty creative artwork. Later this week, we'll try making nature paint, mountain formation, and playing in a bear cave! I'll try to keep it as updated as possible.