As the snow quickly begins to melt away, the Dawn & Dusk kids have been noticing more and more trash emerging in our back yard, much to our dismay. We've really been building stronger connections with our outdoor space and the desire to keep it clean has been a hot topic the last two weeks, so we provided each cohort with garbage grabbers.
The very first afternoon that we brought those grabbers out, Club 4/5 was eager to clean up as much trash as they could without even being asked. As we slowly spread out through the far forest and its surrounding bushes the kids noticed a disturbing trend in our trash: masks. An abundance of both disposable and reusable PPE quickly filled up a trash bag, opening up a conversation about environmental responsibility. As disappointing as it was to see first hand just how much this new part of our daily life (masks) is damaging to our planet, it was great to see these kids so involved in doing their part to reduce the ugly waste!
And then, as if Mother Nature was offering a reward, we stumbled across something really really cool: owl pellets.
The kids had no idea what they were, but I (educator Jen) knew immediately that we had stumbled on something very unique. When an owl hunts and eats, it will regurgitate its prey and what comes out is a ball of fur and bones. When I was a child in elementary school myself, we dissected these in class with tweezers and magnifying glasses, putting together the skeleton of the mice that had been eaten.
There was so much excitement when the kids found out what these "owl pellets" were and they wanted to dig right in to them. I provided gloves and watched as they tenderly pulled the pellets apart, identifying each bone they found.
As one child continued to dissect his pellet, he explained what part of the mouse he was handling and how it must have died while in the jaws of the owl. As he described what he was doing, he walked us through his very thorough thought process on the fascinating demise of this mouse.
One of my favorite moments that afternoon is when one of the kids left her comfort zone to explore the owl pellet she had found all by herself. Her curiosity proved to be bigger than her fear that day!
"I was really afraid to do this" she said as she gently pulled the fur apart. I'm afraid of dead things! But this is so cooooool."
There was no shortage of theories, thoughts, and scientific hypothesis that afternoon, and although initially some of the kids were hesitant and kind of grossed out, they all asked for baggies to take their treasures home in - one child was eager to get the bone fragments under his microscope for further analyses.
This very unique experience falls right into line with our ever-increasing connections we're making with the Dawn and Dusk backyard. A big thank you to the parents who were cool with their children bringing these owl pellets home - we look forward to continuing to find new and exciting ways to embrace our outdoor space and all the wonder it holds!
One morning we set up some tools, art and clothing in the gym from Burundi to show the children because we noticed that culture and diversity were an emerging interest in club 4/5.
As children arrived and they were able to view the materials, you could see how interested they were. They started asking a lot of questions about the food, art and schooling system, specifically how different or similar the schools in both countries would be.
We also watched children dancing their traditional dances on Youtube.
Some children showed interest in this cultures clothing and decided to try it on while pretending to drink a Burundian drink that is a mixture of sorghum and banana juice. We talked about how in Burundi you can use the same article of clothing on different parts of your body, for example in the pictures below the material with red and yellow flowers is used as both a skirt and a head wrap!
We discussed how different cultures have different traditions. For example, in Burundi when you visit someone at their home you bring them a gift that you carry in a basket above your head. The children found this interesting and immediately tried walking holding the basket above their head.
The children also learnt how to read the names of the 17 provinces that were shown on a wooden map of Burundi. They were proud to be able to pronounce these names correctly and explained that they noticed similarities from the French language they are currently learning in school. Some examples of new words they learned how to say are, Bujumbura, which is the capital city and Ngozi, Makamba, Kayanza which are names of some provinces.
One of the tools that they learned about through this experience was a broom made out of a palm tree. They noticed that they had to bend over much more to use this broom compared to the brooms they were used to using.
During the exploration of Burundian culture, they developed their cognitive skills, language skills as well as physical skills as they
took the information such as words and pronunciation and put it into practice as they practiced using the tools provided for them to explore.
I noticed that the children really enjoyed learning a new language so I plan to expand on this experience by exploring other languages around the world!
It's beginning to look a lot like Spring, and with these beautiful temperatures the snow has melted so quickly, our forest has turned into a swamp with one of the biggest puddles this school has ever seen. One afternoon we provided a few craft supplies (popsicle sticks, paper, tape and pipe cleaners) and challenged Club 4/5 to make boats for this lake-puddle. The ideas and designs they came up with flowed forth, resulting in some pretty great watercrafts!
It wasn't all about boats, however. The large pails we've been using to make snow sculptures make great puddle play too. Armed with shovels, the children methodically filled up the pails so they could water the grass in the field. Clearly, this was very serious work.
At some point they noticed there was a small hole near the top of one of one of the pails. This provided a while new angle to bucket filling. A pair would work hard to keep Pail 1 filled while another pair used the hole as a spout to fill the Pail 2.
While it doesn't really look like much is going on, these children are actually building skills in working together as a team with a common goal. They saw the hole in the bucket not as an obstacle, but as a different way to move the water from one place to another and quickly sorted out who would do what job for this very important work of watering the grass. Without needing or asking for help from us, the educators, they organized a chain of command, giving one another an important task that would help reach their goal. These cooperative social skills they're learning are a very important part of growth and maturity. Way to set a good example of friendship and working together, Cohort B!
There have been some staffing changes in the cohorts, and Jasbir has moved to the Kindercare cohort. In her last week with Club 4/5, we wrapped up learning about Indian culture with some hands-on experiences!
Jasbir brought in a collection of her jewelry and her traditional clothing for us to touch and see. The children were surprised to learn that outside of Dawn and Dusk Jasbir's clothes were very different!
We ended the week with Jasbir drawing Henna art on the children on a sunny Friday afternoon. A big thank you goes out to her for sharing so much of her culture and traditions with us over the last few weeks. We've learned new things and developed a greater appreciation for the diversity our wonderful educators bring into our programming.
On that note, we have welcomed Chantal into our cohort! We look forward to learning even more about diversity as she brings her African culture into our curriculum! Stay tuned for our next exciting chapter!
In keeping with our celebration of culture, Educator Charlyne brought in some traditional African instruments and gave us a lesson in Burundi music. With music videos playing on the projector, the children were able to explore the sounds these instruments made while watching them in action!
Here's a video we all enjoyed!
The next morning, educator Jasbir showed us videos of Punjabi weddings so we could see the beautiful outfits and jewelry worn during ceremonies. The children were in awe! They had no idea how elaborate these kinds of events are in India and had many questions for Jasbir about the rituals and the clothing. Here's one of the videos:
Although Jasbir didn't have any instruments to bring in, she did tell us about some of them. We could only imagine the kinds of music we would have made if we had both African and Indian instruments together!
All that music and dancing inspired a dance party where Jasbir showed us Punjabi moves, and some of our grade 4/5's showed us their moves! What a great way to include all the diversity we are so fortunate to have here at Dawn and Dusk!
We have been so excited to get back outside after that cold snap and we've been using the elements to benefit our creative drive.
Always passionate about the wildlife in our backyard, we made wild animal snack cakes using water, bird seed, items collected around the yard and... the winter temperatures!
First, we took a walk around the property and collected various items that had fallen off the many trees and shrubs to add to the bird seed and orange slices we already had:
Next we used tinfoil baking cups to hold the pinecones, bird seed, berries, pine needles and pieces of fresh oranges that we had gathered up.
Then we just add water, and a piece of yarn (for hanging the completed ornaments) We had colored and clear water options.
We very carefully tucked our creations away so they can freeze over night....
And sure enough the next morning they had frozen solid in beautiful ornaments that we eagerly hung from the trees for the birds and squirrels to enjoy!
We're all a part of Nature, and activities like this cultivate relationships with the natural world. These connections help us all feel closer to our environment, our world, and one another.
We've taken literacy in a different direction recently by exploring the alphabet in Punjabi. Educator Jasbir hosted this learning experience one morning in the Film Room with our group and we loved every minute of it!
We asked Jasbir to spell a variety of things like our names and the main colors of the rainbow.
It was really neat to watch the characters flow from the chalk in her hand so effortlessly! And we found that as we tried to copy her lines and curves it was much more difficult than it looked. We struggled to copy them, but really enjoyed trying and kept at it all morning!
Everyone really enjoyed this new way of exploring literacy and we developed an appreciation for just how diverse the alphabet can be outside of the English one we know so well. Jasbir taught us fascinating things about Punjabi, like how the color RED is not only a word that can be spelled, but has it's own character, too. We learned "kayla" is a banana and "apple" is a Seba. And we learned new things about Jasbir that might not have occurred to us before, about her education and her life back home.
There was no shortage of questions for Jasbir, and that day the kids in Club 4/5 not only got a lesson in Punjabi culture, but they also realized that it takes someone incredibly smart to be able to come to Canada and learn our English alphabet and language, when they come from a place so vastly different than ours. We are very fortunate to have such diverse staff that cultural education can, and will, happen at any time!
The Educators have noticed that all the creative concoctions, colors and experiments that Club 4/5 have been craving boil down to one main subject: Cause and Effect. So we've been planning and organizing educational activities to feed that interest. A popular idea was to make an elaborate marble run out of non-typical items. Educator Jen found a bunch of pieces of PVC tubing and gave it to the kids with a roll of tape and a handful of marbles. That morning we were in the film room and saw many opportunities for height and angles. Working together, the kids tested out theories on corners, depth and speed.
In the great outdoors, we took their love for coloring the snow and amped it up a little with different materials after one of the kids asked if we could make snow castles with our sandpails. Unfortunately, the sand toys are in storage, hibernating, so Educator Jen improvised with some Home Depot pails and lots of colored water. As an added touch colored ice cubes were made with the silicone molds for decorations. What the kids created ended up being absolutely beautiful SNOW CAKES!
When the ice shapes run out, the kids improvise and figured out how to make more with snow and water. It seems these kids are never short of ideas when it comes to adding some color to our Wintery weather!
The kids of Club 4/5 see a blank art canvas when they see snow, and the educators love to provide them with colors for that canvas. Since nature is always a topic of conversation and interest, on this day the children gathered up some animals and trees with the idea of creating a nature scene outside in our forest. Educator Jen filled a spray bottle with green colored water and a huge jar with deep blue colored water for them to use as grass and lakes. She then gave the kids cameras to capture the scenes they made! All the following pictures were taken by the children:
There has been a lot of interest in the birds we often see in our forests at Dawn and Dusk - specifically the activities of the woodpeckers. We often seek out trees that have holes made by them, and as one child observed the oak trees have scattered woodpecker holes while the Birch and Poplar trees have holes in straight lines that go around the tree. That child concluded that since Oak trees have such rough and uneven bark, the birds must peck at random, and the smooth trees must be easier to perch on, allowing the birds to peck in a more even line.
Our Director Deborah provided the kids with some binoculars, and in no time we were treated to an up-close view of one of these amazing little birds in action!
At the request of one of our budding chefs we built in a winter kitchen one afternoon. Choosing items for our dishes and loading them up in a sled, these kids got right to work in their restaurant as soon as we got to the forest, serving up dishes made colorful by the many bottles of brightly colored water we provided. Cakes, pies and more! Fair prices and excellent food are the perfect recipe for a popular restaurant!
Can't wait to see what these creative kids come up with next!