Story of the Day: Snapping Turtle, Nature Names & Sneaking

At Soaring Eagle Nature School, parents receive a Story Of The Day email to learn about what the kids got up to in the program. Here’s a Story Of The Day from September 2018, featuring the Monthly Forest Program for kids aged 7-12.
Hey friends! Last Friday was all about making connections and welcoming our new group together. First thing we did was greet the kids with a nature table laden with neat mysteries. For those who were feeling a little more energetic we had a trickle in game of Knee Tag going on nearby. With attendance complete we gathered our gear and headed into the forest to play a big group game. Near the Log Flume we learned about Lichen and how it differs from moss, and the relationship it has with Caribou. Then we took that lesson and ran around in search of “lichen” (different color bandanas) pretending to be caribou as a couple of wolverines tried to hunt us! It was intense. After a couple rounds of this we came together in a big group circle and greeted each other. One by one we shared our names and something we were feeling grateful for! This was followed by snacks and a story told by yours truly. I got up in front of all the kids and regaled them with a story of students and teachers stretching all the way from our class that day to a little boy named Jon Young in the 1970’s, and beyond. There was even an Eastern Snapping Turtle in there! Btw your kids might enjoy seeing what they look like. 

When our story was complete we broke into our small groups for the first time and got to know who our individual leaders would be for the year. The following our their adventures.

Tony‘s group

We headed off into the forest. However we did not make it far before we encounter a winged creature with a dark scarf like band on its chest and across its eyes, with a rich rusty orange colour on its front and a grey back. We all seemed entranced by the way it hoped and fluttered from branch to branch. See if your child can remember what its called or if you can find it in a field guide or online.

We then gathered in a circle and went over some of the agreements that we all share while in the forest together. During our discussion we realized that we all share a common love of sneaking and hiding. Just at that moment we heard another group coming down the trail and were presented with our first opportunity to practice our sneaking skills. We managed to sneak up pretty close as they had stopped to play a game. We had a few other chances at hiding on the other groups, some more successful than others. Ask your child about them.

We then decided to head off in our own direction and find a good spot to construct a shelter. We found a place, dropped our bags and got to work. Our group turned into a industrious work crew as we all went out gathering materials and bringing them in to construct our dwelling. After lunch we played a few games that allow us to really hone and practice our sneaking, hiding, and quick movement skills.

As the end of our day approached we decided to head back a little early and give our selves the opportunity to hide on the other groups one last time. Your wild ones can tell you all about it.

Kaylie’s group: 

We started by finding some nature paint and transforming ourselves into forest animals, noticing if it felt different to be in the forest as that animal. Noticing the amazing different mushrooms, lichens, and mosses growing around us, we were surprised to realize that not only were we surrounded by these other living beings, but also by other human beings — another group was hiding nearby! We tried to follow this tricky group along another trail, realizing that we had also ended up going in the direction of an island that some of us had been to before and seen some amazing animals and beings at. Deciding to head to that island, we practiced some of our own camouflaging skills with games of “camouflage” along the way. On the island, we took time to look around and see if we could see any of the animals and other beings we had noticed there in the past — with this in mind, we started to share stories with one another of times we had spent outside and of other animals that we felt connected to in our lives. We then transformed into animals again, like those in our tales, for a game of “abracadabra,” while making our way along the trail. Noticing Tony’s group and an incredible shelter they had made along our route, we stopped to say “hi” and look at their construction. Inspired by this, we worked on creating some of our own fairy houses; thinking about the magic of the forest and ways that we can share our appreciation, love, and gratitude for it and this incredible place that we get to spend time in. These thoughts carried us through the remainder of our day as we completed our fairy houses, stopped to say “thank you” to the forest and lake, received our new nature names, and found a short, special sit spot before heading back for our closing circle and song. Thank you, all, for the amazing time together on Friday! I am looking forward to having more adventures throughout the year and to seeing you again next month 🙂

Blake‘s group:

Straight after getting into our small group we decided as a team to head deeper into the forest and towards Rice Lake. As we walked down the trail we played a game of Camoflauge, where the kids hide just off trail and I have to try and spot them while remaining on the path. After a couple rounds of this a couple of our more observant students noticed there was another group stalking us! They were hidden in nearby bushes but obviously not hidden enough. We scared them off and then continued our journey along the edge of the lake. As we went we noticed the abundance of mushrooms this year and spent some time investigating the differences between species. I gave the group a challenge to see who’d be the first to spot a track of an animal or find an actual specimen. With our eyes wide open we explored several mini paths, noticing neat details along the way like frog ponds and banana slugs. At one point we stopped and each selected our nature names for the year. 

When our energy began to flag we settled into a large peninsula for lunch. After that we went over the 3 agreements of Soaring Eagle; 1) Don’t wave sticks where you can’t see them, 2) don’t climb higher than your height as measured from the flat ground, 3) Zero tolerance policy for violence, either physical or emotional, to fellow classmates, animals or habitats. We had a discussion about whether these agreements made sense and felt right for us before unanimously agreeing they were a good idea for keeping everyone safe. With that settled we started to play a game of Raven Spy, the kids attempting to hide from a searcher stuck in their nest in the middle. There’s a lot of speed and stealth involved and It was a huge hit, earning many rounds of replay. Next we explored the area a bit, probing the edges of the landscape. We ended our group’s time together by playing Cougar Stalks Deer, having one person in the middle testing their ability to sense people creeping up on them while blindfolded. Lastly we headed back for the day for a closing circle with the rest of the groups where we shared our names, nature names and favourite parts of the day!

Thanks for a wonderful first class everyone! We’ll see you again soon and don’t forget the nature challenge to learn 2-3 facts about your unique nature name!
Until then, Happy Trails!
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