Story of the Week
"There is No Bad Weather" at Forest Preschool by Althea Brown of the North Branch Nature Center
When you teach a preschool program that is entirely outdoors, you think a lot about the weather. Is it supposed to pour all day? Be very warm? How will the kids do in a cold rain? Will they arrive prepared for the weather? We call weather “bad” without thinking about it, and we all know what “bad weather” is. This fall our aim in preschool was to challenge this belief. A commonly repeated phrase among programs similar to ours is, “there is no bad weather, only bad clothing.” Our early days of preschool were all about learning how to care for yourself outdoors and how to make good choices for your body based on the weather. The wide range of Vermont weather makes our program that much richer. Is it chilly with a steady rain? It’s a good day for exploring where animals go when it rains and for puddle jumping! Is it unseasonably warm? It’s probably a great time to go down to the river and make boats, experiment with safely throwing rocks, and watch how water moves.
One wet Wednesday proved a perfect day to venture across the river to an old beaver pond just off of our property. We had been experimenting with size and height, so, measuring sticks in hand, we embarked on our adventure. The rain had turned the edge of the pond into a large expanse of deep, sticky mud. And this small piece of the natural world became our “classroom” for the day. The range of things we learned and discovered was vast. Who lives here? What happens when my boots sink into the mud? (Lots of laughter, interesting noises, and a teacher might have to pull you out!) What things can be measured here? How does mud feel? Smell? Sound? Look like? How is this place different from Deer Camp, our base camp? One child noticed that the mud acted like paint, turning a once rainbow of boots into a matching brown on everyone. Another child used his measuring stick to discover that the mud got deeper the further from shore he ventured. The pictures of this day show overcast skies and very muddy children giggling and exploring their world. For us, our day was certainly not categorized by “bad weather”. Instead it was a perfect day for Forest Preschool, as most days are.