Little Falls Public School is looking a little more green since last Friday, when a group of students and staff, along with Klomp’s Landscaping, planted 14 new trees around the schoolyard. The 15 Grade 3 students responsible for planting the trees call themselves “Nature Rangers,” and are graduates of the Little Falls “Forest School” program, now in its second year. Earlier in the year, they held a fundraiser plant sale that helped pay for the trees from Klomp’s Landscaping, who on Friday provided the stakes, soil, tools, and other necessities needed for the planting.
According to operations manager Daniel Klomp, the trees planted included Serviceberry, Kentucky Coffee, red maple, blue spruce and paper birch.
Little Falls Forest School teacher Kendra Martin said that this year saw an expansion in the program to include three classes: two second grade classes and one Kindergarten class. “The idea is that you weave the love of and connection to nature across all the disciplines, so, language arts, science, math, everything,” Martin said, adding that while Forest School students spend a portion of each day outside, she spends “approximately 50 percent” of her time outside year round.
“One full day a week I’m at Outdoor School which is the site near Wildwood owned by Steve and Cobi Sauder, who is our nature educator” Martin said. “It’s about a focus on nature using the seasons to teach us what’s going on. Making sure kids understand local animals and plants, and endangered species that are local to Ontario.”
By doing these things, Martin aims to reconnect and immerse students in their own natural environment, “so they’re plugged back into nature,” she said. “We’re finding now they’re more often plugged into screens. Now we’re trying to balance that.”
Forest School programs exist in other school boards around the province, however, to her knowledge, Martin believes she is responsible for founding the first Forest School in the Avon Maitland district.
Next year, Little Falls Forest School will expand further Martin said, to include Grade Five students, as well as Grade Two and Kindergarten classes.