Worksheets, never! Well, almost never….

402D6198-28FE-46FB-BB72-0E87F64F8887“As Peter Gray talks about, true play must always be voluntary, and the child must always be free to leave (Gray, 2013). But what happens when, as they grow older, their play looks more like classroom work? What if they get curious about worksheets? What if they want to challenge themselves to write down the answers to math questions? What if they want to read and follow the instructions?”

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


International Mud Day

This last week at Forest Kindergarten we celebrated International Mud Day having fun in the mud. Relaxed about in the trees after a good climb and Friday we built up our den, played quietly in the water and spied a turtle. 
We covered 97 Kindergarten goals and 12 levels of play.


New Session, New Ideas

This Last month at Barrie Forest Kindergarten….

It has been a busy month with a new session starting. New faces, new ideas and new beginnings. The children are constructing a new shelter, making pulleys and traps with the ropes, playing in the mud during the rain. Learning about tent caterpillars, plantain, poison ivy and so much more!

So far this session we met 116 goals over all 7 areas of the kindergarten curriculumn and all 15 Play areas from Smilanksy, Parten and Smith & Pellegrini. 

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.  

More Writing, More People, More Play Empowered!

I am pleased to announce I will be a resident author for Play Empowers, a project comprised of the leaders of the revolution for Child Directed Play Based Learning throughout North America. It reaches out to promote play based child directed learning through blog articles, information and are working towards a conference next year.


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.




Child centered Play Based Learning in Schools

So excited to be speaking at The Ontario Outdoor Educator Conference tomorrow on how Child Directed, Play Based Learning Outside meets the Ontario Kindergarten Curriculum with my co speaker Gail Molenar.

With a new revolution in Emergent Curriculum for the 3-6 set that focuses on child centred play based and inquiry based learning teachers sometimes struggle on how to turn that into curriculum without the teacher driven pre planning of yesteryear.

Hoping to increase kids learning from what comes naturally – their own freely chosen play by educating people on how child directed play based learning meets and exceeds curriculum goals!