As we are wrapping up our 2022 fall trimester we wanted to share with you some of the photos from our STEAM program (Science Technology Engineering Arts Math), this fall it was dedicated to human anatomy.
Skeleton clay modeling
Our core project was playdough modeling of human skeleton. Over the years we developed and worked with the children on a number of playdough modeling projects on topics such as birds, hibernation, ant hill structure and botany. These projects are both science and art. Children find them fun and engaging, while slow pace of the step-by-step project offers deeper understating of the topic and better retention of new knowledge.
While working on a playdough modeling project the following disciplines are incorporated:
✓ Science — botany, anatomy, biology, etc. Depending on what we are modeling.
✓ Mathematics — children use measuring tape and rulers, we discuss proportions, comparative sizes and shapes.
✓ Fine motor skill and sensory work through making of various elements needed in the course of the lesson.
✓ Arts and self expression — during the project children learn both to model someone’s else’s work (essential in development of new skills) and once new skills acquired children are free to create and add their own elements to the project.
✓ Logical thinking — learning to plan a project made of multiple steps.
As each week we worked on building a next section of the human skeleton we discussed with the children the function of that skeletal segment. Children learned about nerves and their role in communication between the brain and all of the body. We discussed the essential role of the rib cage in protecting vital organs, such as heart, lungs, liver, and kidneys. The children were fascinated about the dual bone structure of the forearm and lower part of the leg, and seeing how that structure makes twisting movement possible! We had a fun experiment on digestion, and even built a little robotic hand.
Scroll down to see some of the photos from these projects of fall’s STEAM curriculum.
Hands-on experiment topic: spine, vertebrae and spinal disks
“What we learn with pleasure we never forget.” ~ Alfred Mercier
One of our favorite aspects of the Waldorf preschool teaching approach is introducing a topic by means of a story. It is such a great way to spark a child’s interest and to invoke their imagination from the very start. It creates a perfect foundation for further study of the subject. This is something we try to use as much as possible in all our curriculums, whether we are learning about birds, wolves, or alphabet letters.
And so today I wanted to share with you how this approach is implemented by our wonderful teacher Adriana Carlson in her letter lessons – that are very loved by all the children at the school.
Roughhousing. I am probably not alone among mothers who internally cringe from the idea of the excited active play young boys love so much, also known as roughhousing. As a mother of boys myself, I have my fair share of getting kicked, stomped and elbowed just about everywhere by a pair of two excited little boys jumping on top of me usually while I’m still waking up in the morning.
But at the same time, I remember just how much I loved roughhousing with my own dad as a child. My brother and I jumping like wild monkeys all over him for hours was one of my favorite pastimes, second only to playing dolls with my mom.
“Play — especially active physical play, like roughhousing — makes kids smart, emotionally intelligent, lovable and likable, ethical, physically fit, and joyful.” ~ Anthony T. DeBenedet, MD and Lawrence J. Cohen
And when it comes to working with the children at our school, we can see over and over again that for the majority of them, especially young boys, it is the most beloved way to play and interact with each other. It is true that sometimes one of the wrestling participants might get pinned to the ground too tightly, or stop enjoying it while others are still carried away piling up on top of each other. But at the same time, as we see how much they enjoy it and how they bond over these kinds of games we do our best to accommodate such interactions, making them safe by directing kids to play away from sharp objects, use the large floor mat when possible, and inconspicuously watching them while ready to intercede if they get a bit carried away.
“Programs that get children outdoors, moving, playing and connecting with nature—and with each other—offer invaluable foundational skills.” – Pediatric Occupational Therapist Angela Hanscom
A few days ago while I was adding a post to our Instagram feed with some of the latest photos, an ad from REI popped up titled “Are Forest Preschools The Way Of The Future?” I clicked on the ad and was delighted to discover a whole series of blog posts on REI’s blog making a case for forest schools, also known as outdoor preschools or nature kindergartens.
“Art is a place for children to learn to trust their ideas, themselves, and to explore what is possible. ~ Maryann F. Kohl
Welcome to the second blog post about our bird-focused curriculum from January. In this post I want to share with you all the beautiful artistic projects the children created during this period while learning about birds.
When creating our curriculums we try to plan the arts and crafts projects to parallel the current learning theme, as it helps children to connect deeper with the subject we are learning about, practice through art their new knowledge and make it their own.
Learning about nature and developing closer connection with it is one of our fundamental goals as a forest school or nature kindergarten. So we dedicated the month of January to learning about birds and it was such a hit with the children so I wanted to share with you what we did in this past month.
It was a slow-paced and fun learning block stretched over the entire month of January to give the children plenty of time to connect with it, absorb the new knowledge and enjoy all the activities we had prepared as a part of it. To keep learning fun and engaging without taking away much time from children’s free and active play we always try find ways to carry out our lessons and activities both indoors and outdoors. The learning blocks are brief (5-10 minutes at the most) and occur few times throughout the day, incorporating either a story, a game, or arts and crafts project.
As we ended up covering a lot of ground, I thought it would be best to separate this topic into 3 separate posts. Here is part 1.
At the end of every summer I always feel sad and it is hard for me to let go of the warm sunny days. But as the cold winter days roll in, I am reminded of how much I always loved winter growing up. The large snowflakes slowly falling from the sky always seemed mesmerizing and calming. Rolling in the snow, watching our dog running through it, sledding — I loved it all! And then there were those extra special moments of coming into a warm home after hours of outdoor play in the sparkly cold, the home with a smell of savory soup or a pie.
And winter holidays felt like utter magic of course! My family’s friends had a cabin in the mountains where all of us spent many winter holidays. And I remember as a small child walking to our friends mountain cabin through snowy mountains, feeling tired and cold. It was already getting dark. And then coming out into a clearing where the cabins were and seeing gleaming lanterns set all around in the snow. I still can see the magical beauty of it all if I close my eyes!
So as the winter holidays are just around the corner we wanted to make sure we made this time extra special for all the children attending our forest school.
We are very excited to launch our Young Explorers hiking program for children ages 6-11 years old on Mondays and Tuesdays. The program is 2 hours and takes place every Monday and Tuesday from 2:00pm to 4:30pm. Children get to practice putting up a tent, learning’s basic outdoor skills such as identifying plants and animal tracks. And they get to do lot and lot of hiking on the beautiful trails of Palmer Lake!
We are very excited to share with you all that as of today we are officially open!
We had our first group of little explorers and even though the weather was cold, windy and a bit grim the kids still went outside twice over the course of 4 hours at the school and did some good playing and lots and lots of running.
We will do a full reveal of the cabin and the playground area soon, but for now we wanted to share with you a few of the things we have set up for kids to enjoy.
We hope to see you and your little ones there soon. Come in and get a tour any time. You can schedule a tour over on this page.