We are outside in almost any weather. We enjoy the vibrant, crisp days of fall; the variety of snow in winter;
the rains and mud in the spring; and the warmth and water play of early summer.
The following reflects our fall/spring rhythm. In the colder parts of winter,
we either begin indoors before heading outside; or come in earlier to share our meals indoors.
During COVID, the indoor/outdoor rhythm may remain more flexible as we constantly
re-evaluate the safety of indoor time, based on community caseloads and a variety of other criteria.
We do maintain HEPA air purifiers in the indoor program space (and open windows when feasible) for our inside time together.
8:30-8:45 Arrival. Children and adults are greeted and welcomed. Parents/guardians develop their own little “good morning” rhythm as they clean their child’s hands at the outdoor wash station and help their children gently settle into their day.
Outdoor Play. Children are invited to play in our beautiful outdoor classroom as we slowly transition into our day. The outdoor play garden, which abuts the Larch Hill conservation area, is dotted with our namesake Maple trees. The hillside provides ample space for climbing and running and rolling down.
On some days, we might engage in seasonal crafts such as dipping maple leaves in beeswax, scooping seeds from pumpkins, cutting dough into shapes for gingerbread cookies, making head wreaths from forsythia boughs, and more. These seasonal activities strengthen our connection with the natural world and help young children in forming a larger-scale sense of time by connecting them with the cycles of the seasons.
Circle time. We sing our way to our circle as we gradually gather together on the grass. Our circle time incorporates a variety of seasonal songs and poems to further deepen the sense of connection with the seasons.
More outdoor play. The outdoor toys encourage creative and imaginative play – the nooks and crannies built into the flowering shrubs in the yard; a fully-stocked sand/mud kitchen for baking creative muddy treats; tools for digging and raking; a collection of carefully selected sticks for “fishing” and tree blocks for building; trucks for driving over mountainous terrain in the sand and mud; and a few carts for transporting treasured materials. At certain times of year, we may venture on walks into the conservation to visit the stick houses in the woods and other delights.
Tidy up. Every sand scoop, mud kitchen bowl, or tree block has a place in the outdoor play space. With song to aid the transition, children soon learn that tidying up is as pleasant a part of the day as any other piece.
Washing up/Setting the table. We head over to the outdoor wash station. We then wash hands to a special song and set the table in preparation for our meal. The older children love helping the younger ones as we sing our way to lunch!
Lunch. Lunches are a variety of hot, organic, home-made hearty grains, legumes, and/or vegetable soups (though we occasionally make homemade whole wheat rolls together or a pumpkin muffin treat as well!). We tell stories and sing as we share our outdoor meal together.
Puppet show and nap. After lunch, morning children are picked up and full-day children head inside. We remove our outdoor clothing, taking care to put each piece in its special place.
The children play as shades are slowly drawn, cozy resting spaces are arranged, and the aroma of lavender oil and soft light of the salt lamp set the mood for sleep. I then gather the children and perform a short puppet show as they wind down with bellies full. We brush our teeth, and the children are then invited into their special resting spaces as I sing them quietly to sleep.
Afternoon snack and free play. The rhythm of our afternoons is unhurried and dependent on the sleep needs of the particular group of children. Children generally sleep as long as needed. As the children slowly wake, I invite them to the table for a fresh organic fruit or applesauce. They then may play quietly indoors or outdoors, depending on the waking time, until afternoon pickup.