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Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Build an Adventure in Your Forest

This spring students at East Montpelier Elementary School launched the beginning of our most popular ECO lesson to date.  These kindergarten and first graders at EMES were really looking to put their big creative energy to use. We presented the students with a wide variety of tools and inclusions. If you had ropes, buckets, carabiners, and a pulley what could you do? These students jumped in with ideas and focus that turned into The ECO Carnival. Ropes were soon being weaved between trees and buckets hung from various heights. By paying a carnival designer an American Beech leaf,  you could choose from a selection of forest grown games.  Your prize for landing a snowball in a moving bucket? Two large White Pine branches decorated with green twine. A trophy of sorts!
In another, much quieter area of the forest, students pounded charcoal and elderberries in The Pencil Store. Other children silently carved red osier and striped maple branches into pencils with a tool of choice, the Lancashire Potato Peeler.  Paper and journals were brought out of backpacks and soon students were writing letters and secret messages with their new handcrafted pencils with elderberry ink. Deliveries were made by messengers throughout the forest.  Who wants to buy a pencil at The Pencil Store?
 

The Pencil Store is open!


Making charcoal ink
 
Composing a letter
 
 Thanks to the children at EMES we have been wrapping our year in area schools by offering the children “workshop time” in the forest during ECO. We can easily align all the learning that was happening with our new Common Core and Next Generation Science Standards. Force and motion being a very popular one!
Although, that’s not what the teachers were noticing first about their students highly focused participation during these workshop times. The option of choice, self discovery, innovation, trial and error, communication and cooperation with peers,…the list goes on.  Many amazing and creative ideas and projects have sprouted up from this time. A life size Bald Eagle nest, obstacle courses made from willow whips, a chairlift for mice, rope swings, kid sized zip lines and you can’t have a workshop without being properly fed. Dandelion Pancakes anyone?

Dandelion Blossoms for Cooking
Ken makes the best pancakes EVER!
 
Around the fire, we are cooking and relaxing.


 

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