Preschool Programs

If you build them a house, the fairies will come!

February 21, 2020

This week Emily was visiting family, so it was just Ciara and I leading our fearless forest playschoolers. We had a blast! As usual, our morning was spent sledding, building forts and playing winter-themed tag games. After having some free play, we went inside for morning meeting and snack. Our morning meeting leader planned a big day for us - a hike, a dance party, a craft and free play. We hiked up to lookout rock. maybe for the fourth time this winter. It amazes me what tiny legs are capable of and what kids are willing to do to explore. We found plenty of animal signs on our way up. The two most notable (pictured below) were a deer track and chipmunk hole to the subnivean layer. The playschoolers quickly indentified the deer from its hooves. We also talked about how deer tracks are fairly obvious even when you can't make out the exact print because of their depth and pattern. Deer have skinny, long legs that sink into the snow whereas an animal like a snowshoe hare has big hind feet with more surface area that allow it to stay atop the snow's surface. At first, the playschoolers had no idea who might have made this hole into the snow. Mice, rabbits and squirrels were popular guesses. In front of the hole you can make out the fainest track, two little circles for two teeny tiny feet. I asked the group who is bigger than a mouse, but smaller than a squirrel and loves seeds. A chipmunk! Why would a chipmunk crawl into the ground? We thought on this for a few minutes. Chipmunks dig holes into the snow to reach the subnivean zone, the area between the group and the bottom of the snow pack. Here they curl up to sleep, eat food and hide from predators.

deer track
A deer track in the snow! Photo: Audubon Vermont
Entrance to the subnivean layer Photo: Audubon Vermont
Photo: Audubon Vermont

Once we got to the top of lookout rock we admired the view of the mountains and soaked in February's rare sunshine. One playschooler suggested that we build a fairy house and soon we we're all making additions to it and gathering materials. We built the fairies an A-frame, open-air cabin (very posh) complete with leaf rug and stick couches. Some of us were worried that the fairies would get cold, so we built them a fire pit right outside the house. 

An A-frame house for forest fairies Photo: Audubon Vermont
Photo: Audubon Vermont
A fairy bonfire! Photo: Audubon Vermont

While foraging for fairy house materials we noticed a few logs down and decdied they looked perfect for climbing! They walked atop the log like a balance beam and took turns to avoid overcrowding. 

Photo: Audubon Vermont

On our way down from lookout rock, there were some steeper sections that made some friends a little nervous about sliding. To avoid falling, we rolled down these sections or scooched on our bottoms.  

Photo: Audubon Vermont

For the rest of the afternoon, we colored and had a dance party! We all grabbed a different puppet from the barn and danced like we imagined our animal would. It was a fabulous way to warm up. See you in March! 

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