Algoma Forest and Nature School Opens

A new school opened on St. Joseph Island this week, where the classroom is in the bush, there are no desks, but you can pull up a log and sit if you like.

Making use of the school's "loose parts"for a birthday mud cake.
Making use of the school's "loose parts"for a birthday mud cake.

Educator, Becky Hodgson and her husband Adam moved to the D Line on St. Joseph Island about 4 years ago. Becky home schools their two daughters and cares for their 16 month old son. 

The family has a strong love for the outdoors as Adam is a forester and Becky spent summers as a student working in various parks across northern Ontario. They also operate a small sugar bush on their property.

Becky says, “One day it just hit me that obviously I should combine my two passions and offer an opportunity for learning in nature.” It took a couple of years to get everything organized, but Algoma Forest and Nature School has officially opened this week.

During her teaching career, Becky participated in a workshop hosted by the Canada Forest and Nature School. She was impressed with the idea at the time, but hadn’t thought more about it until years later when she had kids of her own and a beautiful property on the Island.

“Let Mother Nature be their teacher, and curiosity, their guide” is the approach to learning at the school. There are no planned lessons, but teaching around what the kids are exploring and interested in each day. The day we visited the school, the kids had found a frog and were very interested in that, so Becky said that the next day they would learn a bit more about frogs. Baking mud cakes and getting letters in the mailbox from Gnomes,  was also very interesting to the  little Puddle Jumpers, during the time we spend at school.

The students had access to what Becky called "loose parts". Everyday items they could play with and use in ways that they found interesting, which encourages creativity.

Becky Hodgson Algoma Forest and Nature School
Becky Hodgson Algoma Forest and Nature School

Forest Schools Canada is the flagship educational project of the Child and Nature Alliance. “We provide evidence-based, practical, and inspiring professional learning opportunities for everyone interested in supporting the healthy development of children through play and learning outside.” Of course, the fact that fresh air and exercise always improve eating and sleeping is just a bonus.

Algoma Forest and Nature School offers three programs: Forest Explorers on Mondays 9am-3pm (September 24-December 10) for 4-10 years old. Puddle Jumpers Program on-Tuesdays 9am-12pm (September 25-December 11) for -3-5 years old (must be toilet trained). The PD Day program is offered for every ADSB Professional Development Day throughout the semester, starting today.

AFN School will be open for visitors this weekend as one of the stops on the St. Joseph Island Country Roads Open House Tour.

For info on any of these programs email or message on Facebook @algomaforestnatureschool.