Little River Outdoor School

Outdoor Elementary School

Operating as usual

Photos from Little River Outdoor School's post 11/19/2021

One of our favorite activities is to give our students a prompt to follow and allow them to use any material to accomplish the prompt. They can paint, write, make a song, act it out, use clay or nature, create a poem, they can collaborate with others or do it alone. Anything goes. For this one, since we had been learning about winter solstice and reading solstice folklores, they were instructed to make up a story that explains why we have less sunlight and colder weather in winter.

Some of their stories included Calliope the queen of warmth who got too sick, a lynx that fell asleep, two fighting giants who blocked the sun while they were fighting, a leaf that became too big and blocked the sun and more. We had paintings, poems, a song and dance, a written story and a clay scene. When they’re done, we like to come together to share what we created. It’s great seeing their individuality and creativity come to life.

Photos from Little River Outdoor School's post 11/11/2021

Today we did a thankful ceremony where we came together to create something that shows what we’re thankful for, and a goal/wish we have for this new upcoming year. We also went on a nature walk to find something that makes us feel connected to nature. We discussed what we created and found over tea and a fire.

Some of the things created were clay sculptures, nature mandalas, or decorated carving sticks. They talked about how they were thankful for the fire, their family, snow, climbing trees and animals. Some of their goals were to be kinder to their siblings, to help lots of animals and to get better at chess.

Photos from Little River Outdoor School's post 11/11/2021

We’ve been working on some weaving projects this week

Photos from Little River Outdoor School's post 11/08/2021

We were ‘supposed’ to be working in our mathbooks, but she asked if we could instead start the fort that she has been planning and designing for the past week. So this is how math looked for her today. Our mathbooks can wait until tomorrow.

Photos from Little River Outdoor School's post 11/04/2021

Some fungi finds from today

Photos from Little River Outdoor School's post 11/01/2021

Today we went on a nature walk to notice the changes in our environment that are happening this time a year. We found and collected various items and then wrote a journal entry about our walk. Some students noted that they didn’t see any squirrels, or didn’t hear any birds. They saw that salamanders and worms are harder to find and that under the leaf liter there’s various molds and fungi starting to decompose the leaves. We also speculated on what else is happening in our forest that we can’t see.

One question we get a lot is ‘what happens when it’s cold/wet out.’ For us, an essential part of our program is that we are immersed in nature during all times and weather that are safe to do so. If we didn’t, we would miss out on so many learning opportunities. No weather is ‘bad.’ Some weather is cold, or hot, or wet, or dry.

‘There’s no such thing as bad weather, only unsuitable clothing.’ -Alfred Wainwright

Photos from Little River Outdoor School's post 11/01/2021

Today we started our day with some winter chores. We needed to collect sticks for fire starting now that the wet season is here and build our fire pit higher to help block the wind from the fire. We spent the first part of our day collecting sticks and rocks and got a lot done. Our word of the week is ‘responsible’ and we talked about how we’re all responsible for keeping our school clean and doing these chores together. We had to collaborate to accomplish this and these tasks help us all out as a collective. There’s something about collecting your own firewood that makes the fire feel a little hotter.

Afterwards we did some group carving. They each had different projects they wanted to make, from a boat to a leaf spear. One of our students gave carving lessons to another to teach them how to carve and sharpen their knifes properly.

Some students finished the day off with making some candle holders.

10/26/2021

Today’s moment of peace. Chopping firewood for the fire on a chilly fall afternoon. When we got
curious as to why the chopping stand was moved away from the wood shed where it usually is, they said it was because it wasn’t steady enough by the wood shed and they felt too close to the rest of us that we could get hurt. It may seem small but it’s a great example of following their intuition, trusting themselves and making decisions.

Today’s moment of peace. Chopping firewood for the fire on a chilly fall afternoon. When we got
curious as to why the chopping stand was moved away from the wood shed where it usually is, they said it was because it wasn’t steady enough by the wood shed and they felt too close to the rest of us that we could get hurt. It may seem small but it’s a great example of following their intuition, trusting themselves and making decisions.

Photos from Little River Outdoor School's post 10/26/2021

This week we’ve been learning about Dia de los Mu***os and preparing for our fall celebration. We learned the history of Dia de los Mu***os, learned about the significance of marigolds and made marigold garlands, and wrote our own calaveras literarias. We’ll use our garlands, handmade candles and lanterns for our fall celebration this weekend. We’re also working on harvesting the extra marigold seeds and saving them to plant next spring.

Photos from Little River Outdoor School's post 10/26/2021

Foster kitten cuddles

Photos from Little River Outdoor School's post 10/21/2021

Is there anything better than barefoot tree climbing?

Photos from Little River Outdoor School's post 10/21/2021

Some peaceful moments today. Reading by the fire and writing another page for our nature name book.

Photos from Little River Outdoor School's post 10/19/2021

Today we talked about what circumference and diameter is and then got into groups and found various items to measure to find the circumference and diameter. We then did one on one or two on one math lessons to make sure every student is being met at their own level.

10/14/2021

Some of our literature from this week

Some of our literature from this week

Photos from Little River Outdoor School's post 10/14/2021

A student directed project. They heated the leftover and old wax from yesterday’s candles making process and mixed in ground charcoal to make black, sparkly crayons. They ended up also dipping in leaves, sticks, pine needles and other objects they found too.

10/13/2021

Moment of peace today singing and making candles

Photos from Little River Outdoor School's post 10/13/2021

Making hand dipped beeswax candles to bring light and warmth to this darker and colder time of year

Photos from Little River Outdoor School's post 10/12/2021

Some forest treasures

Photos from Little River Outdoor School's post 10/11/2021

Today we learned about and honored Indigenous people’s day by reading the book ‘fry bread’ and following the books recipe to make our own. We learned about the history of fry bread and how it was a European recipe that was adopted by indigenous people when they were forced into reservations 150 years ago and were only given certain foods to use. We listened to music made by indigenous people and did some free drawing/writing and discussed how there are hundreds of different indigenous tribes across our country that are all unique. We discussed how things like food and music connect us to our families and our history. Tomorrow we’ll learn about the indigenous tribes from this part of Virginia whose land we’re on and learn about some modern day indigenous hero’s like John Herrington and Maria Tallchief.

Photos from Little River Outdoor School's post 10/07/2021

This week we learned the differences between lobed and unlobed leaves and started our tree indentifcation guide. We learn how to approximate the height and ages of trees. We first made estimates on what we believed the height and age would be, and then used geometry, division and more math skills to find the answers. We found out our tree was approximately 90 feet tall and about 70 years old. We worked with clay and did tons of carving.

Photos from Little River Outdoor School's post 10/05/2021

Going off of our photosynthesis lesson, this week we’ve been learning about coniferous and deciduous trees. We talked about the differences between the two, how to tell them apart, and made hypotheses on why conifer trees don’t loose their needles when deciduous trees do. Some of their hypotheses includes…

-Because they need less sunlight.

-Becuase they take energy from the soil during winter.

-Because they’re darker in color so they absorb more sunlight. The winter sunlight is enough for them to continuing doing photosynthesis.

-Because they make more energy and store it for winter.

Today we learned the reason is because conifer trees are able to conserve more water which allows them to continue to do photosynthesis during winter. We read ‘October’s party’ by George Cooper. We found tons of salamanders which allowed us to review our conversation on cutaneous respiration and learn, from one of our students whose nature name is a salamander, what type of environment they like and what they are doing this time of year.

Photos from Little River Outdoor School's post 09/30/2021

Moment of peace today painting in the sunshine and listening to the birds.

09/29/2021

A juvenile black rat snake friend

Photos from Little River Outdoor School's post 09/28/2021

Tuesday projects

Photos from Little River Outdoor School's post 09/27/2021

Continuing to celebrate fall by making nature lanterns. We’ll put candles in these to help bring us light during the darker days. We also listened to ‘Autumn’ by Vivaldi while doing some silent free sketching/writing. Today we read ‘Autumn Fancies’ and started our tree unit.

Photos from Little River Outdoor School's post 09/22/2021

Happy fall equinox! We brought in fall with a poem, a fire, some creek time and doing macrame. This week so far we learned about the harvest moon and the differences between solstices and equinoxes.

Our Programs - Little River Outdoor School 09/14/2021

Our Programs - Little River Outdoor School

HOMESCHOOL SUPPORT CLASSES

We’re excited to announce that we will now be offering part time homeschool support classes in addition to our full time elementary program. During these classes, students will participate in art projects, science, math, social studies and more as well as connect socially and emotionally with other students. Little River Outdoor School can also provide any guidance and support that your family may need on your homeschooling journey.

For more info you can check our the ‘our programs’ tab on our website or email [email protected].

https://littleriverschool.com/our-programs/

Our Programs - Little River Outdoor School Little River Outdoor School offers an elementary-level education for children ages 5 through 12 years old. Younger students may be accepted on a case-by-case basis. Our forest school program meets all the requirements for elementary education mandated by the Commonwealth of Virginia. Unlike so...

Photos from Little River Outdoor School's post 09/01/2021

Yesterday we wrote another page in our nature name book that we are creating. Afterwards, we went to the creek and accidentally stumbled upon a salamander with her eggs. We took a peek before gently returning the rock that covered her. The eggs were far enough developed that we could see the babies wriggling around inside, and could spot their eyes and other body parts. Our student whose nature name is Northern Red Salamander was able to not only see and observe salamander eggs herself but also teach the rest of the class about them. It was so exciting, especially since she had just written about their breeding habits early that day.

08/26/2021

We had some butterflies in our forest today. Pure joy.

Photos from Little River Outdoor School's post 08/26/2021

Student led boat building project. After they were built, we took them to the creek to test them out. They tried putting different things in them to see how the change in weight changed how fast they went or if it made them sink.

Photos from Little River Outdoor School's post 08/26/2021

Adding on to our geography lesson from last week, we started learning about tectonic plates, layers of the earth and landforms. We made a flip book of continental drift and have discussed the different plate boundaries and what they can cause. We discussed how tectonic plates move due to convection cells and we’ve started to learn about our area here in The Blue Ridge Mountains.

We’ve noticed that our students have been needing extra time to connect with each other emotionally and socially this week. The world feels heavy right now with everything happening in the news, and sometimes us adults can forget that children can feel that heaviness too. We can sometimes get so caught up in pushing them onto the next ‘thing’ that we forget they need us to allow them the time and space to be where they are now. To honor their feelings, we spent lots of time slowing down and building fairy houses, visiting with the horses, having free play time, doing unguided artwork, hugging Juno the school dog, catching toads, reading to each other and resting in the hammocks among other things. The reality of following the needs of your students over anything else means that some days you’ll do math, and some days you’ll get peed on by a toad. And we wouldn’t have it any other way.

08/24/2021

Is there anything better than sitting in the woods with a friendly dog?

Is there anything better than sitting in the woods with a friendly dog?

08/19/2021

A conversation overheard today while some students were working on a macrame project…

Student 1: whoa! Yours is so good. You worked hard on that.

Student 2: Thanks! This one is taking me awhile.

1: can I give you a hug as congratulations?

2: no thank you.

1: okay!

This interaction may not seem like much, but as an empathy-centered school we’re constantly learning and talking about situations exactly like this and how to navigate them. To see this type of consent and empathy, totally unprompted and unguided by adults, was amazing. While we of course always get excited by our students success in other areas like math and reading, nothing is more important than seeing them be kind and accepting to others.

A conversation overheard today while some students were working on a macrame project…

Student 1: whoa! Yours is so good. You worked hard on that.

Student 2: Thanks! This one is taking me awhile.

1: can I give you a hug as congratulations?

2: no thank you.

1: okay!

This interaction may not seem like much, but as an empathy-centered school we’re constantly learning and talking about situations exactly like this and how to navigate them. To see this type of consent and empathy, totally unprompted and unguided by adults, was amazing. While we of course always get excited by our students success in other areas like math and reading, nothing is more important than seeing them be kind and accepting to others.

Photos from Little River Outdoor School's post 08/17/2021

Some important clay work

08/12/2021

We decided today that carving sticks is one of our favorite ways to relax

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3368 Bethlehem Church Rd
Floyd, VA

Opening Hours

Monday 9:30am - 3pm
Tuesday 9:30am - 3pm
Wednesday 9:30am - 3pm
Thursday 9:30am - 3pm
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