A Day in the Life of a 5 & 6 year old

As the sun rises above the evergreen trees, signaling a new day at the Oak, our oldest and wisest of Oakers, the Acorns, race

their parents up the gravel path to enter their classroom to get geared up for another day of nature-based play and adventure. Children eyeball the pictures and words written on the Gear Board showing and telling today's required gear. They handle their morning routines independently before walking out to the Backyard where children and teachers from the other classes eagerly await their arrival. 

Joyful teachers greet families and children at the back gate setting the tone for a delightful day. Brimming with enthusiasm, the Acorns come prepared with an intentional plan to bring to completion and are ready to organize the younger children for helpful labor. Whether it's building a castle out of tires, crates, rocks, and logs, (complete with a moat, a drawbridge, and battlements,) using the seesaw as a catapault and measuring how far objects can fly, or rolling tires down the wildflower hill remembering to shout, "Look out below!" the Acorns bring a 'mature' level of play to the Yard.  

The clanging of wooden sticks signals it time to circle up as a school for our Morning Gathering singalong. The call is sounded to fly over to their backpacks, and pick a spot on the hike line. Hat covered heads are counted by 1's, 2's, 5's, or 10's in English, Spanish, or the occasional Korean, and the destination for Base Camp is set. 

After a musical march through the woods, following the Earth, Fire, Air, or Water Trail, and over the Cedar Bridge, we finally arrive at Base Camp. The children pick a log to sit on, take off their backpacks, take out their snacks and water bottles, and show they are ready for the daily greeting and Mindful Moment to connect with nature.

While mouths are busily munching snacks, a teacher reads a book or presents a lesson. Focused listeners learn more about subjects that interest them and that they have previously asked questions about. By the time you become an Acorn, you are excited to unlock the world of reading, interpreting numbers and patterns, understanding the world around you and your place in it.

With snacks properly digested and tucked away, the curious researchers are ready to roam! Discoveries during Nature Play may include, but are in no way limited to: salamanders hiding under rotting stumps, frog spawn in a vernal pool, logs to drag for dam building and observing how it might affect the water level in the stream, or two oak trees side-by-side suggesting a gnome village is under our feet!. By the sound of a chickadee, the children all return to Base Camp, put on their backpacks, count their heads again, and hike back to school to clean up for lunch.

After refueling with food and conversation among younger friends, the Acorns continue their day of learning within the four walls of their classroom. Guided reading lessons, hands-on math games, continued work on ongoing projects, and free exploration of a variety of provocations inspire the Acorns to direct their own learning within a block of time before one last bit of fresh air and sharing an afternoon snack with the Nap Babes.

It has been another full day at the Oak!

a school for children who are serious about dirt and squirmy things

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© 2018 by Painted Oak Nature School

174 Lambertville Hopewell Road 

Hopewell, New Jersey  08525

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