Month: August 2017

Forest School 2017: Day 3

As we pulled into the parking lot this week, Pip spotted his “guide” and shouted greetings to her as soon as he was free of his car seat. He was greeted with smiles and friendly greetings. As a mom, that means a lot! The teachers for our forest program prefer to be known as guides. They aren’t sitting them down with a lesson plan of what each child will learn. Instead, they are guiding them through developing their own interests, learning lessons from their own curiosity and being safe while pushing them from their “safe zone”.

It always fascinates me to see what each child gravitates towards when they first arrive. Pip has newfound confidence in climbing EVERYTHING, so he is usually racing to the top of the closest boulder or trying to find a tree ascend. Liv, ever the adventurer, noticed the paints this week and painted a beautiful piece of artwork. On herself.

Forest School Day 3 | www.oliverandtara.com

This week’s science experiment was painting with glue, salt and paints. The older children tested different mixtures to see how they differed and made observations to the group! Pip was proud to bring his home. It may never dry…

Forest School Day 3 | www.oliverandtara.come

Liv took advantage of the older children climbing and enjoyed the class tarp all to herself!

Forest School Day 3 | www.oliverandtara.come

Her hiking skills continue to improve weekly – and she gets more adventurous each week. She’s learning to steady herself and navigate the uneven paths. Never the helicopter parent, the thought of a helmet crosses my mind regularly.


Forest School Day 3 | www.oliverandtara.come

This week I was flying solo, as O had some meetings and couldn’t attend. Can we all say a ‘thank you’ for baby carriers?! Liv does GREAT for the first half, but wears herself out quickly. When daddy is along he takes her down the path and back to the car for a nap. Just mommy and we have to keep trucking!

Forest School Day 3 | www.oliverandtara.come

The children had a particularly exciting tool to try this week… and a very detailed lesson along with it!

As soon as Pip arrived home he told daddy “I used a BOW SAW!!! WE CUT WOOD! A DEAD TREE!!! … not a live one.” Haha!

❤ Tara

Gameschooling: Do you?

Gameschooling | www.oliverandtara.com

So ,what is Gameschooling?

Gameschooling is teaching school subjects through game play – board games, card games, etc. So teaching geography through Ticket to Ride, colors through Candyland… you get the idea!

Why would one Gameschool?

Games teach so many fantastic skills and, if selected carefully, can teach great educational subjects at the same time! In addition to the obvious skills of turn taking, sharing, cooperation, learning to win/lose… there are some additional developmental skills games can help! My favorite executive functioning skills of self-regulation, perspective taking, problem solving, working memory and planning are involved in almost every game out there. Games can also grow creativity, social skills and both verbal and non-verbal communication abilities! Plus, let’s be frank. As parents, we can often lose sight of having FUN with our kids. Life demands are no joke! Intentionally planning game play into your day can be a welcomed respite and time of connection.

Do you Gameschool?

There are some people who only gameschool, which fascinates me! While we aren’t 100% gameschoolers, it is an intricate part of our homeschooling. We’ve played games with Pip since he was very young, and Liv is already wanting to play Pip’s games with us during the school day!

Current Favorites…

Because I know the question would be asked… here are some of our current favorite games!

  • Robot Turtles (Pip)
    Early introduction to coding, but no technology involved! I’ve seen Pip’s ability to plan, problem solve and navigate increase exponentially since we began playing this game!
  • Cariboo Island (Pip) – discontinued
    Really, any of the cariboo versions are great, but all are discontinued. So check with local moms, thrift store and consignment sales! This fun “hidden treasure” game let’s you work on letters, numbers and shapes! It’s quick with a built in reward system.
  • Koala Capers (Pip)
    My mom found this one on Zuliliy, but even on Amazon it’s really decently priced! This one allows for a lot of adaptations to make it easier and harder. You are trying to find the most outfits for your koala by rolling the dice and matching the pattern and clothing item to one of the many combinations out! What is also fun is that all the outfits are from different areas of the world. So we get a lot of geography and occupation talk in too!
  • Shelby’s Snack Shack (Pip)
    Think of this as the modern day Hi Ho Cherry-O…. just with a dog and bones! Spin to try and dig up bones, then spin to see how many you can get. Watch out – you might lose a turn, lost your bones, or steal some from a neighbor. MOM NOTE: Don’t put all the bones out if only two of you are playing. It will NEVER END. We typically only put out 20!
  • Hidden items activities (Liv)
    Not a purchase-able game, but just the game she’s into currently. Hiding anything (even family members) gets her excited! And it’s doing a great job of teaching her waiting, turns, and stamina! Plus her giggles are infectious!
  • Hungry Pelican (Liv)
    Pip actually picked this game out as a Christmas present for his sister! It’s a lot of fun to drop the food into the pelican’s mouth and it appears in the stomach! We put all different things in the mouth, not just what came with the toy! It offers a lot of funny vocabulary, wh questions and surprises. Plus, it’s a game even Pip gets in on, so they are learning to play together too!

Want to read more?

Some great blog posts out there on gameschooling include…

❤ Tara

Another day in nature

Today was day two of Forest School/Nature School (we use the terms interchangably). Some cute photos and takeaways.

Liv is always so excited to arrive at Forest School! Especially when she also gets to wear brother’s hat.

For science, they learned about butterflies and then disolved sugar into water to make sugar plates.
We didn’t see any butterflies, but we did catch a praying mantis who stopped for a drink!

From being hesitant to climb anything week one, to trying everything week two!
He knows the rules to call out “climbing” and wait for an adult to respond “climb on!”

This increased confidence translated to the first tree he attempted to scale independently!
(He did need some help, but his height was a slight disadvantage!)

He wasn’t the only one scaling everything – though she be little….

Today we painted in our journals. For brushes, the children had to search nature!
Liv loved the flowers, her brother preferred his fingers! Haha!

She’s become fascinated with birds lately, and today we “dressed up” as one!

After observing a chipmunk eating these seeds, Pip decided to try some too!
I just love his curiosity… “I do not think they are very good!”

Always the little helper…

I just love how much growth I’ve seen in both kids after just two weeks. This is just a small snapshot of our three hours today! Each week their teacher adds a few more structured activities for them to “opt in or out”. This week we started journaling, next week we begin Yoga. Pip always opts in, Liv usually does as well. We are also soaking up the warm weather. Forest school is all weather, so we will be out here in the rain and snow soon!

  • Tara

Forest School 2017: Day 1

I had learned about forest school via world wide web. I’d show videos to my husband and told him how much I wish we had one near us. It was pure chance that I found our local forest school!

A mom had posted on a local homeschooling group about the activities she was enrolled in and asked what others were doing this year. One activity was forest school! I couldn’t click that link fast enough! Thankfully, my children have some awesome grandparents that encourage their homeschooling and help support their extra-curriculars ❤️

Day one of forest school came and O was actually able to attend with us! Pip was so excited and had so many questions. His number one question? “Will there be mud mommy?”

After a week of daily rain, he definitely had mud! He was so excited! His excitement was clearly contagious, because soon he had company….

This little girl had her hands covered in mud and loved it!

Soon, the son of our leader came running through the mud barefoot. Pip’s mouth dropped open. He looked at me as if to ask “can I do that?!” With just a bit of encouragement from his leader (whose bare feet you can see) and me…

Soon the leader invited the children to join her in a group for a science experiment. She brought out canteens and poured some contents into each child’s cup. She asked them to hypothesize, wonder and notice. They discussed color, temperature, smell, flavor… And enjoyed sitting quietly drinking tea together on their first day of Forest School!

Soon they moved on to storytime, where they learned about “being present” and what that means in a group. And it physically involved a move as well. Up onto a boulder!

We moved our entire class to another location within the park to continue exploring, trying new games, and learning safety. We discussed what to do if they see a snake, finding support when they want to climb high and respecting physical boundaries for our play space. Liv loved this new space and boldly followed the big kids around exploring.

Pip watched some of the other boys ascend the large boulder. He gave it an attempt, but left discouraged. He soon because engaged in a game of “1-2-3-Where are you?” but continually looked back to the boulder and watched the more experienced boys climb. A short while later he ran over to his leader and called out “Miss Erin! Climbing!” She smiled, and called back “climb on!” (which meant she was ready to spot him). The smile on his face when he made it to the top made my mama heart explode. He stayed up there for 20+ minutes!

A quick lesson on how to find a good throwing rock helped transition the boys to the closing, which involved throwing said rocks over a ledge and telling everyone their favorite part of school.

He was sad to go, but completely exhausted! We can’t wait to return to the beautiful views and the adventure of exploring!

❤️ Tara