Our outdoor school program in Palmer Lake has a little cabin right by the mountains. The school cabin is used solely for the purpose of the program, and not as a residence. It is a charming, almost fairytale-like environment with a beautiful outdoor space for playing under the canopy of majestic evergreens, working on art projects and learning about nature.
“In every gardener is a child who loves to play in the dirt. In every child is a gardener ready to grow.” ~ unknown source
In our Palmer Lake outdoor school location we start every day in the forest where children spend a few hours playing and exploring in the mountains. Around lunch they return to the school cabin where we work on a variety of different projects, such as playdough sculpting, watercolor painting, sewing. And gardening and tending to plants is also one of our essential activities there. As a part of that we have a small greenhouse, each child also has a small garden allotment where they grew snap peas and we also have a beautiful pollinator -friendly flower garden.
One of the projects we worked on during COVID lockdown this past Spring was expanding our outdoor classroom space.
As a forest school we spend first half of our day in the forest and mountains. But around lunch time we hike back to our school cabin for some learning projects.
Even before COVID outbreak we did most of our learning projects outdoors, rarely going inside the school cabin during the warm months of the year. We already had a set of tables and benches built underneath and around a beautiful evergreen in the school yard. There we had all our meals and worked on the art and craft projects, see two photos below.
If you are following us on Instagram you’ve seen that we stayed quite busy during our temporary closure due to COVID-19 guidelines. Over the 3 months that the school was temporarily closed we built a green house, added a large flower garden, set up a beautiful new outdoor classroom and most recently I replaced a fence to go with our new sign.
I haven’t shared anything about the fencing project over on Instagram, as it was probably most exhausting of them all 🙂 Our old fence was badly bent by the deer jumping over it. And as I was in the process of installing our new sign I wanted the fence to look the part. So after some time spent on Pinterest I chose this look for the new fence. It didn’t seem too complicated. But while it wasn’t particularly complicated it did involve a lot of heavy work. And so it is going to be our last building project (at least for June :))) as I actually already have a few more on my mind).
“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.
For some time, I wanted to share with you about our beautiful Waldorf watercolor classes led by our Wednesday instructor Milana. This technique is called wet-on-wet watercolor. It is beautiful and simple, and even the youngest children of preschool age can create incredible artwork and learn about colors in the process.
In a classic Waldorf approach the art class is introduced with a sweet story about the brush that goes on to play with his friends Yellow, Blue and Red. Through this little story chidden learn how to correctly use a brush and to wash the brush between different colors. Each child also gets to name their brush. You can hear the introduction story for the children in the video at the end of this post.
“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.
As children at our school come from families celebrating different winter holidays (Christmas, Hanukkah, New Year) we wanted to make sure our forest school’s celebration was inclusive for all. And so we chose to celebrate Winter Solstice as nature’s milestone where we reach the shortest day and longest night. The day that truly marks the beginning of winter.
All of our school festivals always include some beautiful seasonal crafts, family games and a short movie at the end. But we wanted our Winter Solstice celebration to be the most special, full of winter magic and beauty. And so we brought Grandpa Frost into our celebration — the magical character who creates the winter itself and also brings gifts to children 🙂 . Scroll down and enjoy our photo gallery from this memorable day. We are very grateful to our wonderful Tuesday and Thursday teacher and a talented photographer Adrianna Carlson for capturing all these beautiful moments from our celebration of winter and childhood.
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.