A Day at Wonder Woods
A typical day in the woods is ever-changing. The weather and the children are the biggest teachers. Children are encouraged to play and take risks and to learn through experiences. Community is cherished and autonomy is respected. Our biggest goal is to pave the way for kids to play in a space where they may also connect with nature and each other.
9:00-9:25 am: Arrival
Drop-off time is flexible, but it is preferred that children arrive in time for Circle at 9:25. Upon arrival, please see the Executive Director to check in your child(ren). We do free play until Circle Time. We welcome parents to stay sand interact with other parents, kids, and playworkers until Circle Time if they wish. Caregivers may stay through Circle Time and it can be helpful to do so in the first few weeks your child attends. This is a good time to ask questions or meet other members of the community.
9:25-9:45 am: Circle Time
Circle Time is our most formally structured part of the day, but we cherish it as a community building activity. It encourages children to interact with those outside their close friend groups and models a collective gathering for them. It also establishes a gentle way for children to learn about group agreements, community guidelines, and important safety instructions. One of the playworkers will lead poems, songs, or a story. The song or poem will be introduced in the weekly newsletter so you may read it with your child if you wish. We do introductions, pronouns, and check-ins. We go over rules and share announcements.
We understand that sometimes children will have a difficult time focusing during Circle. Kids are encouraged to participate and listen out of respect for the community, but (especially for caregiver/child pairs) don’t worry if your kid can’t make it through! A set of poems, songs, and games usually lasts around three weeks before the children are ready for something new.
9:45-11:00 am: Free Play
Free play includes lots of activities at Wonder Woods. During this time, kids choose their activities. engaging with the playscapes set up by our playworkers; drawing and painting; participating in processed-based art projects; tree climbing; sculpting or harvesting clay; building stick houses; digging in mud, dirt, or puddles; rope making; making up games and playing them; reading and telling stories; hiking; bird-watching and plant identification; making pretend food; and enacting pretend play such as playing house, family, or cats. Playworkers also sometimes bring in materials based on the childrens requests and interests. During this time playworkers supervise any risky activities (such as tree climbing), help with hand tools if needed, or go on a walk with kids. We check in with kids to see if they need to use the bathroom and may take them to the bathroom.
One of our playworkers will prepare our meal during this time. Participants are welcomed to join meal prep to learn and assist. Wonder Woods has kid-friendly knives/choppers and will ensure safety for the people cooking and eating the food!
11:00-11:45 am: Meal Time
Wonder Woods will provide a daily meal for all participants that is peanut, sesame seed, and nut-free. We will also try to accommodate other allergies/dietary restrictions listed on your registration form. The meal will almost always include a protein source, carbohydrate, and fruit or vegetable. Please pack a heat-safe bowl, fork, and spoon for your child to eat with. The bowl should be large enough to hold a full meal. If you are concerned about allergens or have a selective eater, you are welcome to pack extra food from home for your child to eat during meal time! Kids do not need to eat the meal provided, but they should be with us or nearby during mealtime.
We say a secular blessing before we eat created by Teresa Weed with inspiration from The Thanksgiving Address from Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer:
Thank you earth.
Thank you sky.
Thank you sun.
Thank you rain.
Thank you worms.
Thank you bees.
Thank you farmer
For the good food
we're about to eat.
A playworker will sign the blessing using American Sign Language (ASL) in addition to saying it. We learned our signs from an ASL interpreter in our community.
Meal time is a great time for stories, jokes, and talking games. Playworkers sometimes tell stories or encourage children to do so. Playworkers eat along with the children to model the communal fun of eating and fueling our bodies. During the winter, mealtime is an important time where we check each child for wet socks/gloves/base layers if there is precipitation present or it is a wet or snowy day.
ALL DAY: Rolling Snack**
In addition to the scheduled snack we provide at our 11am meal time, kids can also eat food that they bring from home (which is often in the form of a sack lunch) at any point during the day. Some kids choose to eat this during the 11am snack time, and others eat it whenever they are hungry. Playworkers will periodically check in with children about if they would like to take a snack break. Playworkers supervise those eating’ to ensure hand washing and other safety measures. See our Family Handbook for more on our philosophy behind doing a rolling snack instead of a formal sit-down scheduled lunch time.
11:45am: Caregiver/child pairs depart
Caregiver/child pairs head out after meal time is over. Caregiver/child participants do not need to check out before leaving, but we do enjoy saying bye and this can be a special time for your child to receive a goodbye.
11:45am-1:45pm: Free Play
Kids can resume free play. Since this is a longer period of time for play, kids can walk with playworkers to a new location to play and explore (i.e., climbing trees or different forest area). Kids may also do some process-based art work at our art station, which remains available all day for kids who choose to use it.
2:00pm: Pick Up
Please see the Executive Director to check out your child. This helps us to ensure that your child is under your supervision. If a caregiver who we haven’t met before will be picking up your child, please contact the Executive Director through e-mail or phone or let us know at the beginning of the day.