Bamboo Forest Dramatic Play

There are over 1600 species of bamboo around the world.

A member of the grass family, it is found on every continent except Europe and Antarctica.

Bamboo’s resilience, versatility, and unique ability to grow quickly and create complex root systems make it a vital species in its native ecosystem.

It provides a habitat for biodiversity, reduces land degradation, stabilizes slopes, and produces oxygen, absorbs heavy metals, sequesters carbon, and has over 1000 uses – including replacing plastics, paper, and wood.

As part of our Forest Bears week, we decided to explore this fascinating ecosystem.

To do so, students wore panda bear masks.

They were also encouraged to interact with our “real” bamboo forest – a collection of bamboo stalks “planted” at the school.

Bear Dens

Bears den in a variety of places.  They investigate possible den sites throughout the summer.


If a bear is disturbed during the winter, it will often move directly to another den. Standing hollow trees are favorite denning spots, but few trees are allowed to reach the mature stage at which the center rots and becomes hollow.


Such trees can be found in portions of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area in northeastern Minnesota, especially where they were fire-scarred a half century or more ago.


Rock crevices and caves are also used as dens, and these can remain useable for centuries, but usually not by the same bear


Dens are also dug into hillsides or under the root system of a tree.  These dens may be dug during the summer months, long before they are needed.


Dug dens often collapse after use and therefore are seldom reused. As part of our Bear week, we created bear caves using sand blocks, soil, rocks, and pine cones. Everyone enjoyed manipulating the blocks to create the perfect home!


Fox Burrows

Foxes live in forested areas, but they are also found in mountains, grasslands and deserts.


They make their homes by digging burrows in the ground.


These burrows, also called dens, provide a cool area to sleep, a good location to store food and a safe place to have their pups.


Burrows are dug-out tunnels that have rooms for the fox and its family to live in.


The burrows also have several exits so that they can flee if a predator enters the burrow.


As part of our Fox week, we created our very own burrows using a few key ingredients.


These include toy foxes, wood chips, artificial grass, rocks, and pine cones!


Everyone enjoyed creating little scenarios with their dens, seeing all of the different ways they could create a home for their foxes!

Fox Puzzles

One way to put your  child’s mind to work is with the continued exposure to puzzles!
Children of all ages can gain benefits from playing with puzzles.
These brain-building activities help develop cognitive and fine-motor skills, foster cooperative play and spur problem-solving prowess.
Not only are puzzles a perfect way to spend some quality time together, but kids feel proud of themselves for completing one.
Better yet, they’re an interactive way to teach colors, letters, numbers, shapes, animals and beyond. For this activity, we completed a fox puzzle!
 Each puzzle had anywhere from three to seven pieces, and students were encouraged to try and work out the puzzles on their own. IMG_20191107_100100338 They were told to first count the pieces and then arrange them into a shape.
Following the completion of the puzzles, students were instructed to try them again!

H-O-O-T Manipulatives

As early childhood education gains more attention on the national level, more attention is being paid to early literacy.


Early childhood professionals have long recognized the importance of language and literacy in preparing children to succeed in school.


Early literacy plays a key role in enabling the kind of early learning experiences that research shows are linked with academic achievement, reduced grade retention, higher graduation rates and enhanced productivity in adult life.


In our classroom, we are constantly being exposed to letters.


With a variety of play experiences, we gain an understanding of letters and their functions, and have fun while doing so!


For this activity, we used manipulatives to spell the word HOOT.


Using letters printed on cardstock, students matched the letters to identical letters printed on a mat.


We discussed the sound each letter made, and then combined the sounds to create a word!



Collaborative Owl Nests

Three dimensional media occupies space defined through the dimensions of height, weight and depth.


It includes sculpture, installation and performance art, decorative art and product design.


Two processes are responsible for all three dimensional art: additive, in which material is built up to create form, and subtractive, where material is removed from an existing mass, such as a chunk of stone, wood, or clay.


The additive piece that we created involved a few key materials.


With floor, twigs, feathers, googly eyes, and pipe cleaners, we assembled them to make two items: an owl and it’s nest.


One great thing about children, is that they are always learning.


And every experience is a learning opportunity ready to be absorbed.


For this activity, we talked about opposites, specifically targeting the words, INSIDE, OUTSIDE, TOP, and BOTTOM.


This activity was also broken up into four different days.


On the first day, we talked about the anatomy of an owl. 


We focused on saying that the eyes are “on top” and the legs are “on the bottom” of the owl. 


We then used play dough, pipe cleaners, googly eyes, and feathers to create our very own owls! IMG_20191115_102354891The second day involved us creating individual nests for our owls.


For this portion of our project, we stuck twigs and hay into play dough.


We again talked about the words, INSIDE, OUTSIDE, TOP and BOTTOM.


On the third day we created a large nest made of twigs, twine, wood chips, grass, and hay.


Students then placed their owls and nests into the larger nest.


For one last time,Following we visited the words INSIDE, OUTSIDE, TOP and Bottom. During each creation of each day, they were directed to place the materials. To incorporate the mathematical domain into our project, we also counted the total number of owls in the nest. 


Lastly, they enjoyed displaying their nests for all to see!

Black Bear Forests

The American black bear is the smallest of the three bears species found in North America, and are found only in North America.


Black bears have short, non-retractable claws that give them an excellent tree-climbing ability.


Black bear fur is usually a uniform color except for a brown muzzle and light markings that sometimes appear on their chests.


Eastern populations are usually black in color while western populations often show brown, cinnamon, and blond coloration in addition to black.


Black bears with white-bluish fur are known as Kermode (glacier) bears and these unique color phases are only found in coastal British Columbia, Canada.


Snowy Owls

The Snowy Owl, also known as the Arctic Owl or White Owl, nests on Arctic tundra habitats throughout its northern circumpolar breeding rangeoften adjacent to coastal Arctic seas.


This is one of the largest owls in the world, and has the most northerly breeding and wintering distribution of any owl species.


Plumage is unmistakable in this species. Adult males are almost pure white, and adult females are white with brown barring.


As part of our snowy owl component, we created both these creatures and their nests.


The materials used by your little ones include feathers, clay, googly eyes, and sticks!


In addition to learning about the snowy owl, students accessed several areas of development, including lateralization, sensory registration and divergent thinking.


Arctic Hare Habitat

The arctic hare lives in the harsh environment of the North American tundra.


These hares do not hibernate, but survive the dangerous cold with a number of behavioral and physiological adaptations.


They sport thick fur and enjoy a low surface area to volume ratio that conserves body heat, most evident in their shortened ears.


These hares sometimes dig shelters in snow and huddle together to share warmth. To help us learn more about these creatures, we created these shelters using Insta-snow.


Following a short book on Arctic hares, students enjoyed burrowing around the snow with their friends!


Porcupine Potatoes

20181128_101155_HDRThe porcupine is the prickliest of rodents. Its Latin name means “quill pig”, which is the regional American name of the porcupine.


There are more than two dozen porcupine species, and all boast a coat of needle-like quills to give predators a sharp reminder that this animal is no easy meal.


Some quills, like those of Africa’s crested porcupine, are nearly a foot long.


As part of our forest theme, we created porcupines using toothpicks and potatoes. Students strengthened their hand-eye coordination and counting skills while creating the perfect prickly friend!