Emerson loves Kindergarten and says her favourite time is when the class get to explore the forest.
Emerson, Kindergarten, says the forest classroom is her favourite place to be. Whether she is running through leaves, climbing up the creek or pretending to be a wolf, Emerson says that the forest is a magical place.
“It’s so much fun in the forest – there is so much room and a bunch of places to hide,” she points out. “There are special smells, the leaf smells and the tree smells. If you look carefully you can find worms and little insects, and sometimes we see flying bugs and butterflies.”
Sometimes, Emerson and her classmates climb up the big hill to take a closer look at the baby trees. “There are lots of little trees – a lot – and we go in there and make wolf sounds. Howling is great!” Emerson explains. Students wade in the creek and climb up the waterfall or simply build what Emerson calls ‘snail homes’ from leaves and sticks found on the floor.
Armed with magnifying glasses, binoculars and water samplers, the class often does science experiments in the forest as part of their curriculum, and recently completed an art project looking at the work of the sculptor of the natural world, Andy Goldsworthy.
Emerson and her classmates know they need to look after the forest and spend their time there carefully. “We have to make sure there is no garbage and that no one kills anything or rips off the branches of the trees,” she says.
The students also look after one particularly high tree which stands out from the crowd as it reaches high into the sky. “Once he was a boy called Jack and the forest fairies turned him into a tree. Now he is really big and helps the forest,” she says, adding thoughtfully: “I’d like to see a fairy – but I don’t want to be turned into a tree!”
Words Mira Mackey, Photography Benedict Johnson