The Grey Squirrels' adventure to Princes Island Park was a lot of fun! Both the journey and the destination yielded up new things to enjoy. The big grassy hill on the other side of the bridge is a great place to roll and play ball games. Walter setup a mini rope climb and Henry tested the limits of gravity setting up little pens with cones to contain golf balls, gradually moving the pen further down the hill to test when the balls would push over the cones. This new space offered some inventive and creative ways to engage with the space. The freedom and fun of the spatial motor games on the hill brought out the child in all of us and saw us turning a chilly windy afternoon into one full of giggles.
Some fabulous semi-frozen mud puddles by the community garden were a great delight to splash in and games of eye-spy on our walk got us noticing details in our surroundings.
The skills to go further afield with this class have been developed in recent weeks and we were glad to be able to facilitate taking their interest in exploration beyond the Bluff. We used compasses, both a ball-like globe pinned to their glove and a hand-held traditional style compass to notice which way was North and how this remained constant (pointing towards the Bluff) throughout our trip. Princes Island Park is an ideal place to discuss compass directions as downtown, Bow River, the mountains and the Bluff line up almost exactly with the compass directions. We read a book called "follow that map" to explore ideas of navigation and map features further. When we returned to the Bluff we each had a Google Earth image of the area to mark our path upon. Some of the class was able to identify the path we had taken right away. The key landmarks of Bow River, the bridge, downtown buildings and the green space of the Bluff made this an accessible introduction to map reading.
We concluded our class with a sit spot sitting alone listening for sounds and circling them on our 'Sound Bingo" sheet. The bingo style sheet is a motivating tool to tune little ears to their surroundings and afterwards gets everyone sharing about what they heard and noticed.
Our adventures gave the children the opportunity to see some more birds, they spotted Canada geese, both flying very high above our heads and on the river and we had a close encounter with a pigeon on the bridge. The bridge was a thrilling place to stop and observe, especially with the powerful wind, noticing details like the clarity of the water and the lack of ice. The children especially enjoyed gathering a little stick each and all together throwing them in the river to then hastily run to the other side to see how long it would take for their stick to emerge. We look forward to some more excursions to Princes Island Park in the future, to continue to feed the imaginations, independence and confidence of our little explorers and see what the unique environment there can inspire.