Exploring Our Environment

In the educational world, there is a model of learning based around three educators: parents, teachers and the environment.  This Fall, before the rain truly hits, we've been trying to take advantage of that third educator, the environment, as much as possible.  This has revolved around a couple activities that have occupied and captivated the imaginations of the kids at OSC.  
At Gilmore there is a large hill with a long metal slide that shoots down it's side.  Much to our curious delight, our attention has been captured by a family of young rabbits that have made their home safely under the slide.  When the kids first found out about the rabbits there was a lot of excitement and eagerness to get close to them.  As we've watched them grow over the weeks, we've also had a chance to learn more about them and how we interact with nature.  One of the lessons that the kids have taken to heart is that although we may have good intentions, having the rabbits get use to humans may actually put them in danger.  It's been really cool to watch the kids take this lesson and to hear them live it and repeat it to their peers. We are still captivated by the rabbits, but now we know to give them some distance, for our safety and their own.
Early in the school year, I got to prepare an activity that brought nature up close to our students.  Collecting pond water from Terra Nova Park, our students were able to explore the tiny creature that inhabit our waterways, all from the dry safety of our space.  We found that the water was full of tadpoles, tiny snails and clams, and aquatic insects that would dart around with great speed.  It was a lot of fun watching the kids get close and exploring these creatures that would otherwise remain hidden in plain sight.
While the water bugs were great, sometimes it doesn't take a lot of planning to engage our kids with their surroundings.  Sometimes all it takes is a rope and a tree, perfect for climbing.  This fall, the kids have also had a great time exploring their school grounds from different vantages, challenging themselves to climb higher and to problem solve where the next handhold will be. 
While the days are getting shorter, and the weather may be turning a little wetter, we are still happy to explore our surroundings, and to appreciate the third teacher we have around us.
-Keefer

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