Forest happy is what we call the feeling we get from spending hours outside exploring and playing.
There are lots of ingredients that get together to create a that forest happy feeling. Fresh air, adventure, lots of trees, dirt (mud or sand seems to make for a little extra happy), wild creatures, snacks and lots of subtle seasonal changes.
Here is the story of one of our days out getting outside to find our forest happy:
Building on a common theme across all the forest school classes, we start this day by discovering some sort of creature that is living with us at The Cabin. On this day, one child has found a huge worm and the excitement generated a hunting expedition. Turning over stumps has revealed some worms and slugs which we compare before putting them into a container to study. While adding dirt to the container another creature is discovered and is not so easily identified.
We bring these creatures on our trip to the second site, a short 15 minute walk down the road.
We revisit a familiar puddle and find an expected sheet of thin, crunchy ice that can be broken up. We've done this activity before and each time we notice something new about the ice. Some times it's really thin, sometimes it's dirty. Almost always it shatters (like glass) and today we notice some more common properties (transparency, sound it makes when it breaks, sharp edges). Snack time is the first thing we decide to do when we arrive at Lady Bug Hill.
While we are there, one of the children sets a few dozen lady bugs back into the habitat we found them in. The hill is warm enough that we start shedding a few layers.
After snack we had a music centered activity. I challenged everyone to find something to hit and something to hit with. Some of the kids chose hollow logs, bits of flood debris, rocks or other items that were accessible to us. We then played around with rythms and tempo. We noticed that different objects had different tones, even when they were hit with the same beat and one of the children made a mini-drum kit so he could play like he does at home.
Then we visited the rock pile for some free play time. Some kids were into building a little village for bugs. Pictured is the queen bee's house, a house for ants and a decorative rock tower.
Somewhere near by, a few children have talked one of the facilitators into letting them give her a new forest hair style. It's a forest fairy hair day.
While some other children are interested in climbing and exploring on a pile of logs and driftwood.
Before we head back to The Cabin we wander over to the river for another snack break and some relaxing. Here an older child is working with a younger child, she is showing her how to make a fishing rod and then, she finds a spot where she can fish in peace.
After all this playing, we gather up all our things and head back to the Cabin. It's a long, tired hike that usually takes about 25-30 minutes.
We arrive back at The Cabin, filled with a forest happy feeling we can't quite explain. Excited to come back next time and see what adventures will be waiting for us. We've spent a few hours discovering all sorts of things about ourselves, our friends and the world around us.
This is what one day in Forest School looks like, just one. Every day looks a little different and comes together through the kids and the facilitators, the weather, the site, the nature of the world we explore and the seasons we witness. Part of the beautiful thing that we experience is that we don't plan out most of our time. We make space for play and for exploration that wouldn't be possible otherwise. We witness bird migration, ice formation and leaves falling to the ground. We breath in the chinook winds, feel the numbing glacial river water and notice the animal tracks in the mud. Then, after all this we still have time for climbing, balancing and sliding around. This is what learning looks like!
Stay wild my friends.