Notes from the Naturalist Week 3: Nature Preschool at HCMA


I was reminded today about the beauty of the Slim Baker area before I even reached the parking lot. Driving up the gravel road, a light fog all around, with the glow of yellow leaves, cast forward with the approach of fall surround my accent to the lodge. Further up the road two Blue Jays flew across my path. And all I could think about was how lucky we are to have such a special place. A place to share the beauty of nature and friendship. 

We entered week three today and enjoyed a day in our classroom without walls. If felt so right, so calm and filled with so much excitement and play. At one point, I realized that our children were not playing with any manufactured toys, but yet they were so engaged, so playful and so content. “The beauty of using natural objects in play is that children need to use verbal skills to communicate the meaning and purpose of an object to each other.  A stick, for example becomes a walkie-talkie, a magic wand, an animal, or a fishing pole in the development of a play scenario.  Children spontaneously invent more creative plot lines in play where they are not surrounded by toys or materials with a predetermined use and meaning. In this way, outdoor play is conducive to the further development of imagination and creativity.” -

You may have heard your child talk about their day spent entirely outside. Well, that is just what we did. We snacked together on our picnic blanket, played along the wooded edge, hiked and explored along an old logging road and lunched around the fire pit. We tried our hand at leaf and bark rubbings, but I believe the favorite part of the children’s day was spent “collecting”.  We picked up leaves and acorns (some of you may have found some squirreled away in backpacks!).  One child in particular collected over two dozen acorns and walked carefully back to our common area around the fire pit where she placed them in her backpack. She put so much effort into collecting and carrying her acorns, an overall level of concentration that will serve her well in the future. 

Since our first day at NPS, we have talked a lot about safety. An important job of each child is to always be able to see their teachers. Another important job is to not put anything in their mouth that was not from their lunch box, a provided school snack or an edible berry that is okayed by the Teachers. We call berries that are safe to eat, Yes Berries and ones that are not are called No Berries. Today we discovered the Canada Mayflower, (Maianthemum canadense), a small, dual leafed wildflower, long past bloom but with beautiful red berries. We did tell the children that the berry of the Canada Mayflower was a No Berry, although, Native Americans were reported to have used the berry for headache and sore throat relief.  

 Each child had a great day today, they grew and stretched, and with each passing day they become more comfortable in their classroom with-out walls. May you enjoy the leaves as we welcome fall and enjoy the chatter of your children reporting back from their days at NPS.