Do you remember the day you took your first field trip? I don't remember the details of mine, but like most of you, I would imagine that you do remember the excitement that surrounded going someplace new, someplace different, someplace FUN! After three years of having guest speakers come to visit us at Playschool, we finally checked "going on a field trip" off the bucket list.
As preparations for the Pup Run continued the children diligently work on the race course and there mushing skills.
Over the past week the children made a trail map of the route in which the children would use to navigate their race. They used shapes and colors to help them identify common places on the map (the outdoor classroom, the Pine Tree Forest, the bridge and the campsite). Then they helped decide where we should have "checkpoints". The checkpoints were papers that were numbered and decorated and would be the designated spot to stop and change the teams responsibilities on the day of the run.
During the week along with making a map and the 7 checkpoint signs, the children practiced their mushing roles when out on hikes. Walking through the woods in a line (which is very uncommon for them) they would pick whose turn it was to be the lead dog (first in line), the swing dog (second in line), the wheel dog (the last in line) and their favorite... the musher! Whoever was the musher would call out the commands "HIKE" for the line to move forward and "WOAH" for the team. Along with the commands there was never a shortage of noise because there were "barking dogs".
On the day of the Pup Run the kids were happy to enjoy the hard work that they had put forth. They took to the trail and worked so nicely together as they patiently waited for their turn to mush, ride and pull the kick-sled. At the finish line they celebrated with hot coco and marshmallows around the fire.
Throughout this experience I couldn't tell you how many times I heard someone say to a friend "you can do it!" "keep trying" "we are almost there". This is what teamwork is all about... not only getting to the start together... but getting to the end together.
Congratulations mini mushers you make a great team :)
(A special thanks to Kraig Decker for the start and finish line banners)
This year on January 31, 2016 Duluth will be hosting the John Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon. It is the longest sled dog race in the lower 48 states.
I still remember the feeling I had when we my family and I accidentally came across this race in 2012. We planned on going to Hawk Ridge for a hike but as we drove down Glenwood Road, just above the golf course, we instantly became interested in why there were so many people along the side of the road. As we got out of the car we watched and and listened as a volunteer standing in a bright orange vest at the edge of the ditch yelled up to the others volunteers on the road "MUSHER!". And just like that, two people stopped the oncoming traffic while all the other volunteers madly loosened the snow with their shovels that the cars had driven over and pack onto the blacktop. Then everyone stood back, holding hands, in a line saying "on by" just in time as a musher and their dogs crested the hill and in a blink carried on down the trail.
The adrenaline and excitement that I felt that day was awe-inspiring. When complete strangers asked my family and I to help shovel snow at that crossing you better believe we did, with much enthusiasm and smiles on our faces. We had so much fun that day! It was like nothing I had felt before. The racers, the four-legged athletes and the community of volunteers and spectators that worked together to make that event possible was so cool!
With the excitement building around this year's event the children at Secret Forest have been learning a lot about dog sledding and teamwork. Together we are preparing for their very own "Pup Run", a mock dog sled race.
Just like real mushers these little ones each have race bibs. They have designed their own bib and picked out "the fastest" race number.
All the children have been encouraged to decorate their bib to make it uniquely their own. With the children's names on their bibs they are practicing letter/name recognition. The bib numbers gave them the opportunity to count (to 30) while ironing them on and is also gave them the chance to put them in order (sequencing) . And finally adding the ribbon ties on the sides allowed them to measure and use their fine motor skills to cut! Learning can be so fun when you do it through play.
*Remember to check back to see the results of the Pup Run ;)
Today, was another day with temps. below zero and if it weren't for the little ones all hidden behind their "ninja masks" you never would have known. On days when the weather is especially chilly we tuck into the forest or down in the valley to protect ourselves from the wind. Today we went to the outdoor classroom and while the children played I started a campfire.
From my experiences, fires seem to be a place where people naturally gather to sit, to sing and to share stories. A place to build community. As the fire that I was tending to came to life and started to dance with flames of red, orange and yellow most of the children came over to sit next to me... silently at first and then after a few minutes they started up their own conversations. Their conversations turned into stories. And their stories turned into silly stories. Before long everyone was giggling.
I am not sure what sparked the first silly story but before long everyone had one that they wanted to share. That is when we started our group fill in the blank story... the kids loved the MAD LIBS type story telling. Together they contributed to story after story and likely would have sat there the rest of the day laughing with each other if their bellies didn't tell them that they were hungry. So before we headed in for a warm up and lunch we ended with a story about a king that went to the zoo to pet a dinosaur ;) (3-4 year olds humor is the best!!)
(Next time you need a giggle just narrate a story and include your little ones by leaving blanks to fill in. It makes for some really good, silly stories! Bonus: it helps build language and literacy skills.)
I am Meghan Morrow, the founder and lead teacher at Secret Forest Playschool in Duluth, MN. This blog is a way for me to share some of the amazing moments that I witness and the lessons that I learn from some of the wisest people I know... children.