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Each week we reserve time to escape into The Forest – a city park that borders our campus – and each week we watch as, without a curriculum, formal lessons or assessments, children develop into natural scientists.

We provide the controlled setting: Friday mornings at The Bridge, and nature provides the variable: Summer, Autumn, Winter and Spring. The children question, observe, hypothesize and draw conclusions from what they experience.

Teacher: "Why do the leaves fall during Fall?"

Dante: "Because the wind is really strong."

Juliette: "They’re getting colder."

Dante: "The wind is really strong because it’s cold."

Dante: "Do you know why Fall is called ‘Fall’? Because the leaves fall all the time in Fall."

Children: "Even the creek is filled with leaves!"

Teacher: "Wait stop. Look up at the leaves. Are they different colors than they were when we first started going to the Forest?"

Dante: "Yes because when it’s Fall the leaves also turn different colors."

Teacher: "But why? Why do the leaves turn different colors?"

Ethan: "It’s the earth’s work."

Gabriella: "I don’t know, that’s just how they do it when it gets colder. And also if they turn colors, that means they’re dead."

Teacher: "Gabriella, are you saying that leaves are only alive when they’re green?"

Gabriella: "Yes."

Xander: "No, the leaves on the ground are dead."

Teacher: "So all the yellow and orange leaves on the trees are alive?"

Xander: "Yes."

Skylar: "First the caterpillars guard [the leaves] and then the caterpillars eat them so when [the leaves] turn brown they die."

Teacher: "Hailey’s dad pointed out that this tree is still green…why is that?"

Xander: "It’s an evergreen tree!"

Teacher: "An evergreen tree? Based on it’s name, does that mean that it’s always green?"

Children: "Yes!"

Maddie: "I think that tree is a baby tree, it just has grown, it’s only starting to grow."

Max P: "My theory is that it’s actually been there a long time and do you know what? Actually, we have an evergreen tree at home and I picked up some leaves and they were brown!"

Ethan: "Did you know that a forever green tree loses leaves all year long, and not just in the winter?"

Juliette: "The snakes are scared because the leaves are smushing together and making a big, big racket."

Gabriella: "And they also hibernate."

Dante: "And now the snakes are asleep cause it’s Fall so now we can go in front of you because the snakes are all asleep."

Tyler: "Salamanders like the heat, but they come out when it’s cold. Does that make sense?"

Teacher: "Um…no? Can you explain it a little further?"

Tyler: "The salamanders come out when it’s cold but they sleep in when it’s hot and then they come back out when it’s cold."

Teacher: "So are you thinking that when they come out when it’s cold they move around a lot to get warm?"

Tyler: "Yeah."

Max P: "They sleep under the winter when it’s so cold."

Teacher: "Well what about in the Fall? It’s a little bit cold in the Fall, what do they do then?"

Max P: "They sleep under logs and kids…and grown ups find them."

Tell us…is there a better way for children to understand the changing of the seasons? If so, we haven’t yet found it.

About the Author: 

Mauren Campbell, Mary Tobin, and Mary Baxter make up the Kindergarten teaching team. Read about them on the Faculty Biography page.