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.
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.
8:30-9:15 Arrival and Independent Play. Children and adults are greeted and welcomed. Families develop their own little “good morning” rhythm on our front steps as we greet the children indoors and help them gently settle into their day. Children put their boots away and slip on their slippers as the other families arrive. Some days the children play until morning snack; some days we also engage in a seasonal craft such as baking or painting.
Morning Snack. Children sit down with song and a candle to light our morning meal. We nourish our bodies with hot grains such as cinnamon apple oatmeal with maple syrup or millet peach cobbler porridge as we warm ourselves in preparation for heading outdoors.
Outdoor Play. After snack, it's outside we go! The outdoor play garden, which abuts the Larch Hill conservation area, is dotted with our namesake Maple trees. The toys encourage creative and imaginative play: a fully-stocked mud kitchen for baking muddy treats; a collection of carefully selected sticks for “fishing” and tree blocks for building; trucks for driving over the mountainous terrain in the sand; and a few carts for transporting treasured materials all provide endless fodder for the budding imagination.
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 beeswax candles, 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.
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, the children soon learn that tidying is as joyful as any other part of the day.
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.
Walk in the Woods. The Maple Hill Play Garden borders the Larch Hill Conservation Lands. In the fall we venture through the Conservation to the nearby Stick House nestled into the woods. As the year progresses and we settle more deeply into our rhythm, we gradually expand our horizons to explore new favorite spots in the neighboring fields and lanes of Old Friends Farm (where we sometimes run into Farmer Robert or Farmer Hans: riding on tractors, harvesting veggies, or fixing potholes) and the longer trails and boardwalks that the Larch Hill lands offer.
Washing up/Setting the table. Upon our return from the woods, we head inside to get ready for lunch. We 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.
Indoor Free Play/Tidy up. Children finish their meal at their own pace and help to clean up. They gradually settle in to independent play as they wind down with bellies full. When it is time to tidy up, every tree block, soft baby doll, and wooden truck has its place. With song to aid the transition, the children help to put the room back in order as we prepare for sleep.
Nap. 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. The children find joy in helping with their beds as we invite them into their special resting spaces. We then sing them quietly off into dreamland.
Afternoon 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, we invite them over for snuggles (if they wish). They then may play quietly indoors or outdoors, depending on the waking time and time of year, until afternoon pickup.