Getting back to the woods with my preschool group at Muddy Boots was something I’d been looking forward to since we finished up last June. I knew that it would mostly be new children, with just five children from last year staying on for another year. It was bittersweet saying goodbye to all those children who were moving onto primary school, but I knew they were ready to face their next challenge and that their year of outdoor preschool and forest school once a week had them well prepared for the task.
In September I got to meet all the new children with whom I’ll be spending every Wednesday for this school year. They seemed so small compared to those who had passed before them. To give them a chance to get to know me, and also for me to spend time with them each in smaller groups, I spent the first three weeks taking six children with me to the wonderful walled garden that adjoins our forest school site. I was still waiting for some buried rubbish that had come to the surface over the summer to be removed, so it was only this week past that 17 children followed me into the woods for the first time, the whole class together, along with their teacher and assistants, for what was a magical day filled with autumn colours, smiling faces and much laughter.
A well earned snack after our walk to the woods, and story time in our cuckoos nest to set the scene for the day, followed by an exploration of site, finding the red ribbons that mark our boundaries and meeting the animals with whom we share the woods led us into our first game of “1, 2, 3 where are you?” This was a fantastic opportunity for the children to really explore the site but in the safety of the company of others, and reinforced the boundaries in a very positive way.
Taking advantage of the autumnal palette that the leaves are offering us we busily got to work gathering leaves of different colours and created our very own leaf rainbow. This was too tempting for some to stay out of so once we’d finished our creation each child ran through the rainbow, ensuring their need to create, as well as dissemble, was being met. And what better way to complete the process than by gathering around the sheet, each and everyone of us taking hold and raising the leaves into the air to create a leaf shower.
We left the site a happy but exhausted bunch, thanked Mother Tree for letting us play today and slowly made our way back to Muddy Boots. When asked if they’d like to go the the woods again next week I was greeted with a resounding “Yes”. Each and every child got a taste of the wonders that are to continuously unfold before us as we continue our journey wondering wild through the woods and through the seasons for the next nine months.