Willow is a plant we love and appreciate so much at Earthwise! The children love to climb in the beautiful Willows around our tipi, and this resilient plant gives us endless material for our forest school crafting. Most recently, Willow gave us some small sticks to make charcoal crayons. The Saplings scraped the bark off with their knives, and then we loaded the sticks into small metal “kilns” to cook in our fire. The next day, those sticks were transformed into beautiful little charcoal sticks for drawing! This kind of place-based, or “nature-rooted” learning, where we learn through relationship, feels so good- we are in an active relationship with Willow, for example, so the children are forming their own real relationship with Willow, and understanding how we can use this plant to help us in all these different ways throughout their time with us.
We then spent some time studying various birds that have shades of black and white plumage with our beautiful bird flashcards, and each child chose a bird to inspire their charcoal drawing.
During our morning adventure, we began to tune our awareness towards animal tracking, which we will delve into more deeply over the next month, and some of our students starting making “trails” in the path, while other practiced following them. Trailing is one of the key elements of good tracking, and the children naturally love to play at this ancient art. Our trailing practice ended with a spontaneous study of the four quarters of a circle and the four cardinal directions, led by a curious student. These are the moments when child-led learning really shines!