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Fall 2023: New Sprouts take root and Saplings grow!

The autumn season got so busy, gathering so many acorns and making so much pumpkin pie that we got behind posting new pictures here on the blog! So this is a big update, following our forest school adventures from September through December. What a beautiful beginning to our school year it has been! We began our school year with an Autumn Equinox celebration, creating an edible mandala full of autumn abundance, as an offering to the animals and insects sharing the land with us.

Edible Autumn Equinox offering to the animals

We followed the autumn season through all the abundance it offered: rainbow corn, acorns, rosehips, apples, rainbow-colored leaves, and so much more. The Saplings sewed acorn harvesting bags to gather acorns, which we then cracked, ground, and processed into acorn flour to make pancakes. The Acorn is an important staple food in this bio-region for both people and animals, so we devote several weeks of our fall curriculum to learning how to process and cook with this incredible food.

Gathering, cracking, and sorting acorns

Some handwork projects and autumn fun: stringing rainbow corn and rosehips, beeswax-dipped leaf garlands, corn husk dolls and apple cider pressing

Saplings sewing acorn gathering bags

Saplings learning the reverse-wrap method of making cordage, and sewing their own cordage coil baskets with raffia

We are always practicing nature awareness and connection through active listening, awareness games, tracking, and unstructured exploration through the forest. There is so much to learn every day in the woods! Some of our favorite awareness games are designed to activate and attune our other senses beyond just what we can see with our eyes. Others awaken our animal instincts: hiding, chasing, and sneaking.

Playing and adventuring!

Our 2nd annual Lantern Walk in mid-November marked the halfway point between Fall Equinox and Winter Solstice. Lantern Walks are a Waldorf tradition that celebrate the darkening days and remind us that we carry light within us through the dark times.

Making lanterns for our Lantern Walk with jars and dried leaves and flowers

As the days got colder and shorter, we welcomed Fire into our tipi with an ancient method of fire-making, the bow drill. We spent a morning learning about how to build a "house" for a fire to live in, and then how to make a cozy nest for the coal that we would all birth together. When making fire with a bow drill, the friction eventually builds enough heat to create a tiny little coal. This coal needs a very specific environment to grow into a small fire, so part of our lesson each child processed some of the material we needed for our tinder bundle, and then we put it all together to make a bundle that could grow our coal into a strong fire. All the children and teachers took turns pulling on the bow to help bring Fire into our tipi. What a joyful moment this was after lots of hard work!

Bow drill method of fire-making lesson and demonstration

During our last few weeks of the fall term, we spend many cozy mornings in our tipis with handcrafts, stories, and warm "forest tea" of rosehips and pine needles, brewed on the fire.

As a final project, all the children dipped beeswax candles for our Winter Spiral.

Making dipped beeswax candles

And finally, here's an assortment of other photos from the fall semester. Enjoy!

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