We have really been Growing Wild! (the story of our first Forest and Nature School Adventure)

We have really been Growing Wild! (the story of our first Forest and Nature School Adventure)

I have had a dream for a while now. My dream was to be able to run a forest and nature school program, to be able to completely embrace the pillars and principles. For ECE’s who are already child-led, inquiry based, this is a natural extension. The concepts are really a way of thinking, a mind set. In June 2019 I started my journey to become a Forest and Nature School Practitioner. I took the 1 week, hands on course with an ECE friend. We had such a good time and were inspired by 2 wonderful facilitators. From that week until this summer I had assignments to complete and I was so excited when I was notified that I was DONE!! Then the planning began.     For the 2 weeks, this summer, I was able to create and offer Growing Wild Forest & Nature School for children 5 to 10 year olds. It was a fantastic experience. With low ratios (1:5) we offered real tools to build with. The kids had access to hammers, nails, hand drills, saws. We practiced our fire starting skills. So much great ‘risky’ play and so many great conversations about assessing those risks.     The kids embraced the experience! We would begin with a gathering circle around the fire pit and learning about the land we were on and the people that were here first through land acknowledgment. Desiray taught us a bit about her culture and lead us in smudging.       When the kids went off, I was able to observe all that they were exploring, the challenges the successes, the new friendships and the rekindling of old ones. They helped each other and cheered each other on! We were building a FNS community in 4 short sessions.       It was so sad to have to have it all end. For me, it gave me a chance to put my FNS skills into action and leave the world of pandemics aside. I like to think it was the same for the children and their families who attended.     What is next? I am already thinking about what I want will be my next Growing Wild venture … Stay tuned!     until then… Go Be Wild and...

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I LOVE PVC Pipes?

I LOVE PVC Pipes?

For anyone who knows me, knows I LOVE all loose parts! Do I have a favourite? I really don’t want to pick just one… I have so many! Let’s start at defining what loose parts are? For those who may not know what loose parts are let’s start there. Simon Nicholson, the founder of the idea of Loose Parts in 1971 says: “As long as materials can be moved, redesigned, put together, and taken apart in a variety of ways, they are classified as loose parts.” A very basic explanation is loose parts are anything that can be used alone or with something else in a multitude of ways. Our imagination is the only limitation! Think of the toy you give a child as gift… how often are the kids more interested in the box than the expensive gift inside? The box is a LOOSE PART! I could make a very long list of loose parts I love; PVC pipes, tape, sand, water, logs, tree cookies, thread spools, beads, buttons, makeup sponges, pinecones, sticks, leaves, stones, curlers, string, ribbon, …I could go on and on… (and usually do, just ask my family!) I Love PVC Pipes! Is it weird that I proclaim my love of PVC pipes?  I just love this stuff. It comes in black, white, and the best is CLEAR!! What is more fascinating than watching seeds, sand, or water (maybe even coloured water) flowing through the tubes. It can be used inside our outside. It is durable, can be cut into various lengths, and can be found in a variety of diameters as well as lengths. I first discovered the magical world of PVC pipes when I attended a child care conference in North Dakota in 2018 and had the privilege of attending and meeting Tom Bedard. His observations and reflections of children’s play are inspiring.  Sand and Water Table  Tom creates some absolutely amazing constructions using many materials but often uses PVC pipes. I have told him that when I smell duct tape I think fondly of him.   My first attempt at using PVC was pretty basic. A couple pieces, some duct tape and golf balls in the water table.     After that I got a little more adventurous. I used smaller PVC with holes drilled in and all duct taped together. I loved listening to the children get so excited about exploring it and all the different ways to move water through it.   Then there is outside! The creativity and imagination along with PVC and a bit of duct tape can move water along in so many ways). This is more than just what you see… it goes back to the...

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What was my favourite decade in childcare?

What was my favourite decade in childcare?

I always smile (and brace myself a little) when I get a message that starts out, “Please don’t take offence….” I received this from a past college student and now a respected peer. She wanted to know what my favourite decade in the child care field has been. This implies I have seen a few, and as much as I’d like to think I’m not that old I suppose I am and have seen a few decades go by. I wasn’t really sure what she was looking for so I shared the changes with her that I have seen over the past 30 plus years. This included my personal perspective and growth from being a greenhorn and with really no concrete ideas of my own though my journey to developing and sharing my own strong philosophy. I covered politics and how they have progressed – or not progressed. (Who else remembers the day we had an organized ‘strike’ in the early 90’s? I had a sweatshirt that read Caught in Charlottes Web in reference to Charlotte Oleson, PC MLA at the time – my big political contribution in those days.) We then went on to discuss mentors and who were mine and how I found my purpose when I was lost. I covered a variety of topics but not in a deep way. Did this answer her question? Not really.. she then wanted to know which decade I felt the child care field had seen the most improvement. She was really trying to search for some hard answers. I feel each decade had its own challenges and strides forward or backward. I felt for me it is hard to compare them equally as my understanding of both the political side and the professional (actual hands on) side of child care has changed for me as I’ve gotten to know others, read more, networked more, and grow in my knowledge and confidence. We then dissected the ideas and dug a bit deeper…   Advocacy We talked about how much more advocacy is happening right now. Who knew it was going to be a pandemic that got things really rolling! Our field is standing up like never before and the conversations are revolving around how essential we are to making it possible for essential healthcare workers to go to work and to providing care getting the economy back open. There are also more conversations about quality and what that actually is. I do feel there are a lot more people having a lot more conversations about child care and the importance of the early years and the understanding of brain development now than ever before. Parents We also reflected on  parents and...

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