Friday, August 19, 2016

Forest Week (A Simple Summer Theme)

Among all of our Simple Summer Theme Weeks, this has to be one of the favorite ones so far. We're pretty lucky to live with a giant woods area right behind our house so we didn't have to travel far - yet each time we went into the woods I felt our energy change as a group.

In fact, the boys have continued to ask to go into the woods many other times this summer so that they can repeat some of the activities.

1. Explore the Woods
One of our first activities we already shared, and it proved to be a great way to kick off our Forest Week. The boys used a check list to find forest items that matched each adjective on their Forest Scavenger Check List.  As they searched we had a great time exploring the woods.

2. Take a Picnic 
One of the best parts of being in the woods this summer was how much cooler it was. That meant it instantly became a great place to eat snack! 

3. Create Patterns with Found Objects
After snack one day I showed the boys how we could create patterns with objects we found in the woods. I then challenged them to create patterns themselves using found objects in their own. The two younger boys, Little Brother and our friend, were challenged to create patterns using two kinds of objects. Big Brother was challenged to create a more complicated pattern. Below are some of the examples they came up with. 

4. Build a Fairy House
Whenever I take kiddos into the woods this seems to be an activity that all ages can enjoy - building fairy houses. The three boys spent quite a while building this one and added lots of unusual details to the house with a little extra imagination. Little Brother also insisted on adding a bunch of worms he found into the house as "pets."

5. Nature Journaling 
These simple journals are easy to put together, but can be used in a variety of ways. To make them I used 4 to 6 sheets of white copy paper and folded them in half. I folded construction paper around them and stapled along the folded edge. 

In the woods there are times we use the journal for free journaling and observations, but there are also times we use the journals with prompts. For example, I might encourage the kids to draw using their five senses or to look for something that is a specific color to add to their journal. 

6. Bark Rubbings
Another activity we used our journals for this week was bark rubbing. Using a peeled crayon the boys helped each other hold their journal open to a single page touching tree bark. They then rubbed the whole crayon along the top of the paper to capture the image of the bark. We only did this a little bit, but it would be fun to do with different trees and then compare the rubbings. 

7. Stick Painting
This was a great art project for using a found material from the woods. It was simple, pretty, and easy for several different aged levels. You can read more about our Stick Paintings in our recent post

8. Bear-y S'mores Snack
This was a silly snack with a slightly "woodsy" theme, but the boys loved it anyways. I made up small bags for them to snack on while they pretended to camp. In each bag I mixed a handful of original Teddy Graham cookies, chocolate chips, and miniature marshmallows. I'll admit, after trying their bags I had to make myself a bag too. 

9. Paper Tube Binoculars
I've seen a few varieties of these paper tube binoculars online, but we kept ours pretty simple. I used masking tape to attach two clean, toilet paper tubes together. Using a hole puncher I made small holes at the top of each side and tied one end of a piece of ribbon through each hole. We now had the perfect pretend binoculars for our woods explorations!

10. Magic Stick Wands & Pinecone Necklaces
We found this great idea for Twig Magic Wands over at Nurture Store that we just had to try out. We brought the beads and wire right into the woods so that the boys could make them while they explored. These colorful wands have made some imaginative spells! 

We also collected pinecones and used plastic "gimp" cord to make fast necklaces. 

11. Just Play! 
Really one of the things the boys loved best about being in the woods was just playing. They loved playing hide-and-seek in the ferns or creating small kingdoms out of the glens. It seemed like the perfect place to just let their imagination run wild! 

We've always loved the woods, but this Forest Week definitely really gave us a chance to enjoy it as much as we could! And chances are, you'll find us there again soon!

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