Notes from the Naturalist Week 30: Nature Preschool at HCMA

It is always hard to come back after vacation. In recognition of easing back into the work of the child, we made a special treat. Bread! Homemade bread, by hand or by machine is the quintessential welcoming of comfort and love. Who does not love the smell of a fresh baked loaf wafting through the air as you open the door? And on top of a rainy, damp day….bread…warm and welcoming!

Each child took turns as we looked over our Maple and Oat recipe. We may not be lucky enough to have a working kitchen stove, but let’s face it, a bread machine will do just fine. So with each ingredient measured out, one by one the children helped to create their very first loaf of bread at Nature Preschool. Remember how we talk so much about Place-Based Learning? Within Place-Based Learning is also the importance of our connections to the land, the idea, the teachings that surround us as we learn about the land, its history and culture from which it is based. And so, in baking bread, we made a special connection, a memory, that ties each and every one of us to this place perched on the side of Little Round Top Mountain.

“Bread, in all its various forms, is the most widely consumed food in the world. Not only is it an important source of carbohydrates, it’s also portable and compact, which helps to explain why it has been an integral part of our diet for thousands of years. In fact, recent scholarship suggests humans started baking bread at least 30,000 years ago.”

“Prehistoric man had already been making gruel from water and grains, so it was a small jump to starting cooking this mixture into a solid by frying it on stones. A 2010 study by the National Academy of Sciences discovered traces of starch (likely from the roots of cattails and ferns) in prehistoric mortar and pestle-like rocks. The roots would have been peeled and dried before they were ground into flour and mixed with water. Finally, the paste would be cooked on heated rocks.” -

While our bread baked away, tucked inside its warm little machine, we took to exploring as we do each day at Nature Preschool. The children played just inside an immature “Hemlock Grove” as we called it and discovered water coming from under the ground. They ground the dirt beneath their feet until they had made a nice little well of mud and then took turns stepping in it. Oh for the love of dirt! I am sure they would never grow old of mushing their muddy boots deeper into that puddle. We are still discovering new things each time we explore. And with each day that passes, we too notice how time really never stays still. And with that, I will leave you with this question: Have you notice in this new season, this season of spring, how very much your children have grown and started to change once more?