For the third time this school year, the Robertson Program travelled to Mine Centre Public School near Fort Frances to spend time with the kindergarten students at “camp,” the school’s outdoor classroom. Camp can be found a 10-minute walk from school, down a dirt road that leads to an open area in a forest. The space has a meeting area with benches, a fire pit, a shelter and trails through the surrounding woods – all for the students to enjoy and explore.
The Robertson Program is learning from Mine Centre’s Kindergarten teacher, Marge Hale, and Early Childhood Educator, Sara Empey, about how they use the space to explore mathematics and science with the students.
On our first day, we spent some time in the school classroom getting to know the students a bit better. They told us about their friends and family and they told us about some of their favourite pastimes, foods and books. They also invited us to play the games they designed and built earlier this year. We then made our way to camp where a surprising late-April snowfall had begun to blanket the trees and trails.
The children toured us around the forest, sharing with us some of their favourite spots to play. We found walls made from palettes, crossed marshy areas on wooden planks, a tree trunk shaped like the number four and that made the perfect ice cream shop, and used fallen trees to hide from one another. We also saw animal tracks, birds and plants beneath the snow.
In the afternoon, the Robertson Team met with Marge and Sara to hear more about what the class has been up to all winter. We are excited to collaborate with them to discover new ways of teaching and learning math in an outdoor setting. In the coming months, the Robertson Program will be adding some of the activities the Mine Centre Kindergarten students have been doing at their camp to our online library of classroom lessons.
On our second day, we returned to camp! On our way there, we noticed giant ant hills. The students told us they had seen ants last week, but today they were nowhere to be found. We also thought we found caterpillars on the ground, but discovered they were the fallen flowers of a nearby Aspen Poplar tree. We gathered at camp’s meeting area and listened to the sounds of the forest. The children heard birds, breaking branches, the wind and vehicles on a distant road. We then headed into the woods for another morning of imaginative play.
The Robertson Program wants to thank everyone at Mine Centre Public School and the Rainy River District School Board for their ongoing commitment to collaborating with us to find new ways to teach math and science. We would like to especially thank Marge and Sara for opening their classroom to us and sharing all of the exciting learning they are doing with their students. We would also like to thank Mine Centre Principal Barbe Dennis and Native Language Teacher Verna White, for their support with this project, as well as The Rainy River District School Board (RRDSB) Early Years/K-6 Coordinator Heather Bridgeman and RRDSB Indigenous Education Coordinator Christa Gibson. Thanks, as well, to RRDSB Director Heather Campbell for your continued commitment to this partnership.