The week started with searching for glass on the beach on Sunday and ended with another week full of activities and learning for Ethan.
On Sunday morning, we woke up to another amazingly sunny and beautiful day so we headed to the beach once again.
This week at nature school, Ethan had a substitute teacher named Anna. Here’s what she emailed us…
Anna’s Group (subbing for Scott):
Today was all about group challenge and invention. We started out by walking to the place called ‘Eagle Island’. Along the way we observed the changes in snow/ice cover from the previous week, and what it told us about different parts of the forest- for example, slushy or dry areas that we now know receive more sun (or retain more heat) than icy areas. does this affect what type of plants grow there, for example?
When we arrived at the island we set ourselves up for our first group challenge: Flying Squirrels avoiding capture by a Spotted Owl (an old-growth forest specialist that relies on sound to locate their prey). Working as a team, the squirrels successfully made their way from one end of the forest with their food cache (a mixture of seeds and insects) to the other. Stealth and collaboration were key skills that were used to escape the owl’s keen listening ability and reach home safely.
In the next group challenge we found ourselves more puzzled, however. The simple task was to lower a 4ft long, lightweight branch to the ground with all five of us maintaining contact (with a single finger from below) the entire time. Surprisingly, this brought about some bewilderment and frustration! How was the stick floating up away from us instead of what we were aiming for!? Was someone pushing it upward? Or was it a combination of minute movements by all of us? Perhaps more trust in each other and fine-tuning of our motor skills could bring us future success in this actually very difficult task. And maybe it teaches us something about group dynamic, the way we are all contributors to what’s going on, all the time,whether we feel it or not.
After breaking for lunch we came together for our next group challenge- problem solving the simple query of how to pass a stick around our circle without using our hands (then only using our lower body, then only using one foot, then using only our heads). Some times we invented ways to make it easier, using our brains to problem solve within the parameters; other times we relied on sheer balance and focus.
We also played a round of Fire Keeper (another stealth challenge) and a game where Grizzly Bears raced against the clock to bring back food from their territory before a new highway blocked it’s access.
Everyone was keen to stay at the island for the last part of the day, so we invented new ways to make ice boats and then created “magic moving fir cones” with Douglas Fir cones and the fishing line that we found. This was also a great opportunity to remember what trees we shared the island with, based on the type of cones that were available to us (mostly Douglas Fir and Hemlock cones).
As we left the island we had the opportunity to skate our way back along sections of the path, meet other groups doing knots and camoflauge, and share a bit of our day with our friends.
Finally, at night…
We’ve continued to read Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea. It’s a fun book with lots of colourful language to make us imagine what the characters are experiencing and seeing.
We finished the day by reading Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea.
After we got the felt pens for Ethan it was like opening up a new world of creativity for him because of all the colours. He also continued expanding his knowledge of math and did a great job with his writing, too.
I told a couple other parents about unschooling this past week, as I usually seem to end up doing. I hope to inspire other parents to look at the options available for their children.
Anyway, let’s see how this next week goes for Ethan.