This Last month at Barrie Forest Kindergarten

This Last Month at Forest Kindergarten
January brought the kids exploring their forest covered in snow. Art seemed to be the theme – either creating art or finding it in nature (and eating it!). They enjoyed the art captured in icicles and the tracks left by animals. They comparing tracks to figure out what had been there and tried to figure out where they went and had come from. They also had to figured out how to investigate differently in the winter when they wanted to know which way the water was flowing without getting wet (they settled on throwing something in to watch which way it floated). 
This last month at forest Kindergarten the kids met

114 Kindergarten goals 

And showed all 15 play levels (Parten, Smilanskyand Smith & Pellegrini)and 7 Play Schemas


Digging Deep!

We have one rare full time and one rare part time spot for our fall session. Message or email for details!

This last week at Barrie Forest Kindergarten….

We had such fun building bridges, exploring the creek, playing in our natural sandbox -covering ourselves, each other and building magical element piles. Climbing, running and splashing. Just don’t tell the kids they are learning!

We met 106 Kindergarten Goals of the Ontario Kindergarten Curriculum and all 15 levels of play (Parten, Smilansky  and Smith & Pellegrini)


The Inspiration of Spring

This Last Week at Barrie Forest Kindergarten…

From Drama to Music to Art this week children connected with nature how artists have connected from the beginning of time. From singing songs during our hike, to drawing and painting with natural materials to putting on plays behind our Forest Curtain and then through the woods with our forest curtain kids expressed their creativity.  


There is unspeakable beauty and potential to be found in nature. It entices me and is an invitation I just have to accept – Jill Aston-Leigh
We met 18 of 20 goals in the arts area of the Ontario Kindergarten Curriculum this week. We met 94 Curriculum goals over all 7 areas of the Ontario Kindergarten Curriculum and all 15 Play areas from Smilanksy, Parten and Smith & Pellegrini. 

I See You

The toddler stage of life is filled with learning through experimentation and learning to be social by watching and imitating others, especially caregivers. 

Toddlers can be active, always on the go, or thoughtful and full of purposeful movement, or quiet observers and taking it all in. How kids learn is as individual as the children themselves. 
Our outdoor playgroup is rooted in the idea that children learn best through experimenting in a yes environment with a trusted caregiver to respond to them with enthusiasm in their exuberant explorations or respond in their quiet moments with thoughtful interactions. The outdoors changes the freedom and pace of exploration to allow for a connection unlike any other. 
This helps parents establish and fortify a relationship with acceptance and respond to their child in a way that says “I see you”.  


Seasonal Rhythms



This last week at Barrie Forest Kindergarten……

This week one of the posts on our page garnered some attention when it was shared on Explorations of Early Learning about the relaxed schedule of a child directed day. 

Some thought it chaotic or too inconsistent. This was my reply to that concern:

“Most who follow a routine with kids can not fathom what this looks like. They see chaos, they see no order they see no continuity because they believe that these things have to be imposed by adults. In reality our day is set by a rhythm set by the kids. Things like gatherings, snack, quiet time usually follow a pattern.

Children are people too and crave the same habits, routines and familiarity as adults.


Much like us they do better following their own routines (how many people would do well being told where they can buy their morning coffee in the morning before work or that they couldn’t at all versus following their familiar routine).”

This week at Forest Kindergarten has brought home this idea not so much on the day to day but on the macro level of seasonal rhythms. One of the seasonal rhythms the children immerse themselves during season change in is a return to sensorial play and locomotive play. They seems to sense this will be their last chance to lay in the chill of the snow, to purposely loose and catch their balance on a patch of ice, to break something (ice and snow chunks) without worry of hurting something. They also seem to enjoy the magic of the new season – excited to throw things in the pond that just earlier this week was covered in ice. Being able to run on the dirt ground without worry of slipping on it or getting stuck in deep snow.


Every stage of play and learning exist to allow for learning, understanding and growing. Children come into this world with all the tools to learn, experiment, understand and teach. It is a magical process to watch, and I am sure they would say a magical process to be immersed in.




A new season, with a new name

This Last Week at Forest Kindergarten……

One of the boys decided that it wasn’t spring yet, but it wasn’t winter. When I asked what season it was he declared “Treasure Hunt Season!” They were all so excited to find so many “treasures” on our travels today. From rocks, to pine cones, the countless sticks to a natural “rope” that was a vine or root the kids were having fun searching out new discoveries that were being revealed throughout the melting snow. 

In Inquiry based learning there are 4 levels of inquiry with Confirmation Inquiry being at the bottom with teachers deciding and leading an inquiry. 

The first or top Level is Open Inquiry where children are the leaders and decide everything from topic to finding their own information and drawing their own conclusions. 

In teacher directed settings teachers are encouraged to start with level four as children are not as capable of thinking without teacher guidance and build to level one, the gold standard of learning, by the end of elementary school to take control of their own learning. 

In child directed settings children are taught how to learn from the beginning and don’t need teachers constraining their learning with levels 2-4. Instead they learn the gold standard – the first level of inquiry based learning from the beginning as they learn to explore using open inquiry based learning. 

The “treasure hunt” season has brought open inquiry to the forefront and the excitement of discovery is felt at our Forest Kindergarten.  

This Last Week at Barrie Forest Kindergarten

At Barrie Forest Kindergarten we don’t practice or insist on walking in line because when there is need the children know how to do it. 

The children are able to make the decision based on environment and circumstances rather than relying on an adults input they may or may not understand. 

One boy to another today speaking about the difficulty of walking through knee high snow. “I am walking behind you so I can walk without falling in the snow”.

This also helps build relationships of interdependence, trust and helps the children feel the impact of contributing to their community and the importance of giving and receiving of help. 

Fall Days in February

This last week at Forest Kindergarten

When you go out to the woods today there will be a great big surprise…..

The children found leaves under one of our sheltered areas!
Just the finding of leaves seemed to make this week go from a chilly see your breath exploration time to a relaxed, warm fall exploration.

From leaf fights, to leaf pushing machines. From counting and leaf art to saving the special ones for Mom and Dad in the backpack the kids were excited about their find. Each child had their own discoveries to feel amazed at, feel proud of and path to follow to the next discovery. At Barrie Forest Kindergarten we want each child to choose their path not because they want to be with the teacher but because they have a curiosity and a confidence to see where their curiosity leads. This is the key to intrinsic motivation and a love of learning.

My job as a facilitator is to encourage when asked, scaffold if necessary and to allow each child to be where they are at so they can appreciate both themselves and their discoveries as well as appreciate their fellow students and their discoveries.




This Last Week at Forest Kindergarten…..

We explored the differences that winter has brought!

During the ventures into main camp that was fraught with dragons the children were excited to see signs of other wild creatures – including deer tracks “because they are round” and rabbit “because they are long” as we ventured in to main camp and then they added their tracks, and made dragon tracks and “snow shoe” tracks.






Once at main camp the kids were drawn to our creek excited about how winter had changed it and the experiments and explorations of the water, and ice over the water began.

On Friday the explorations centred around a decision to go ice fishing so each child started on tasks that got them closer to their goal of ice fishing. From smashing the ice to prying it up, to testing the water for fish.

One child decided to make more mud for his task so he carefully set about getting snowballs and pushing them in the water with a stick to watch them disappear and “turn into” mud colour and then later proudly proclaimed he was making mud.