Summer Program: Nipkin Houses.

By October 12, 2015Uncategorised

By Carrie Komesch, Educator

Everyday around noon, we bring the Wolf Pack inside for some enforced shade and quiet time. We eat our lunches on the floor of the cabin, and then I tend to encourage the students to build “nests” for themselves out of the pillows, blankets and animal skins that make our wooden cabin cozy. Once they are settled (and no matter how much energy they seem to have as they’re putting their lunches away and asking to go outside immediately, their bodies always settle!), we sing to them, or read aloud from the myriad of books in the Forest School library.


Today, one of the books I selected was a Forest School classic: Norbert Nipkin, written by Canadian author Robert McConnell and illustrated by Steve Pilcher.

This book is notable for its sweet, rhyming morality, and the detailed imagery that accompanies the story, both of which provide multiple entry points for different activities or inquiries. I like using this book to introduce students to the idea of seeing their surroundings from different points of view and at different levels of resolution. (“Look at the moss growing on this boulder…what if we were tiny, like ants, and we were walking through it like a forest?”)

Once we finished the story, I asked the group if a Nipkin community might be able to live happily in our own forest. What would Nipkins need? Would the students, perhaps, be interested in constructing their own tiny Nipkin abodes?

Indeed, they were interested. I provided each of them with a small ball of air-dry clay, and the creation process began as the students scavenged natural materials in situ and gradually transformed them into something intentional. The techniques varied. Some students collected materials in advance and then returned to the table to work. Other students continuously added onto their structure as they moved through the space. Their results were impressive!

nipkin house nipkin house + garden my nipkin house

And then, there was this…a gravity-defying creation made by L., who was more than able to rationalize the artistic license she had taken, and its departure from the known science.

“This is a flower that hatches from an egg. I know that flowers come from seeds, but in my imagination, it hatches from an egg.”

I love it. What an incredible start so summer programming!






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