Connecting to Place
Revisiting special places in nature ignites a passion in children that carries over into adulthood. At MVCS, we spend many hours in the woods actively exploring, investigating, and inviting questions. Our outdoor classrooms are spaces for exploration, creation, and problem-solving. Special connections, however, can also be discovered and cultivated in quiet stillness, when we let nature's voice be heard.
Fort Creek is our beloved outdoor classroom area located along a creek, where each class has their own dedicated spaced. Log benches provide group sitting areas, where classes can gather for impromptu learning experiences or come together around a fire circle when the weather turns cold. Students and families have worked together to create a beautiful network of bridges and nature trails that wind between these classroom spaces.
For our students, Fort Creek is a truly special place that they are constantly altering and making theirs: from building bridges across the creek, to sliding down the snowy slopes, to investigating the overnight appearance of mushrooms on a favorite log, students feel a strong connection with this natural classroom. Every year, students create peace flags, drawing images of peace on colorful cloths. Hanging along the boundaries of Fort Creek, these bright flags connect students to one another and to their wooded classroom space.
As with any natural space, day-to-day and month-to-month, the landscape of these classrooms shift and change with the seasons. Seasonal flooding can wash away bridges or alter the creeks' course; deep snow transforms Fort Creek into a foreign landscape; spring, fall, winter, and summer bring forth distinct sights, smells, and sounds. Throughout the year, our students build relationships with one another and with their special outdoor spaces, creating a strong connection and awareness of their place in the natural world.
"I like to go to Fort Creek because sometimes I just like to look close at things. One time I found a piece of bark in the shape of a heart. And it was just one day before Valentine’s Day. I felt happy. We were doing a sit spot at that time."
-Sasha G., Eaglet
SIT SPOTS / tree spots
We ask our students to visit one place in nature repeatedly and to get to know it as well as they can, sort of like a best friend. In this special spot, we learn to sit still, be by ourselves, and enjoy the feeling of familiarity and knowledge of place that develops over time. At school, we introduce the sit spot routine by asking each group of students to choose a group sit spot. Once the group has chosen their location and gotten to know the area well, we'll then ask each student to find a spot close by, but one where they can sit alone. The sit spot can be in sight of each other and within a short distance to the center of the group spot. Ultimately, a sit spot can spark an interest in nature's countless mysteries.