Learning Story – Bushkids Snow Castle Construction

The Week of December 6, 2022

What Happened?

This Tuesday we continued to explore the lake. Every Bushkid spent time on the lake today and the kinds of play were so varied! The weather apps were saying it was a cold day with an even colder wind – we didn’t feel the wind so it was a nice relief being on the lake and having our skin stay comfortable. There was a group of Bushkids that played a rough & tumble/wrestling game that was inspired by the traditional game Muskox Push. They had a scoring system they came up with themselves and had teams working together for points. A couple of the older Bushkids encouraged safe practices by avoiding pushing people in head and to stop when someone was on the ground. What a great way to stay warm! 

Some of our younger Bushkids were determined to build a Bushkids version of the Snow Castle. They were calling themselves Snow Princes and Snow Princesses. The house construction took most of the day – so much patience was shown! The perimeter of the house was formed having two rooms and a large inuksuk in the middle of the home. Outside the house a different group of Bushkids shovelled the snow all the way down to the ice to make a skating rink outside the house.

Why was this important?

Keeping warm can be so easy when we are distracted with heavy play. Things like wrestling and shovelling keep our core bodies warm without it feeling like you’re always having to think about your body. There were a couple of times that hands or feet got cold and they noticed that very quickly and would go warm up in the wall tent briefly before coming back to the ice. It was really nice to see so many of our Bushkids enjoying this outside play on a cold day without complaints. When we can have these moments of fun and distraction outside the worry of “conquering mother nature” melts away. This seemed to happen naturally at Bushkids this week.

Constructing the snow castle required firm snow to be dug up in chunks that would hold together while being made into a wall. Where does the snow get firm? Why is some snow softer than other areas? How does the wind help the snow get hard like this? How can we use our shovels to maximize the best brick of snow for construction? Lots of great inquiries happened while building the snow castle. There were so many things that the Bushkids considered while building their castle. The door needed to face the sun so it could be bright when they walked outside. There were two rooms with a doorway between them so you could walk between rooms in the castle. 

The ice rink was so interesting – once the snow was removed from the ice we could see steam coming up from the ice. The snow was acting like an insulating blanket and once the ice was exposed it steamed up being exposed to the cooler air. When the snow was shovelled off the ice surface was rough and not shiny like an indoor skating rink. The Bushkids made several attempts to shine the ice, slithering their bodies along the ice, buffing it out with their gloves, blowing hot air then rubbing the ice, using the shovel to scrape the surface of the ice to shave it down. 

What will we do next time?

Our last session happens next week. The Bushkids have chosen to have a variety of foods for a feast as we say goodbye until next year. Some Bushkids want to bake/cook something to bring to share – this isn’t mandatory at all as we will be bringing food to share as well.

The lake was so popular this week that we will continue to play and explore on the ice. Continue construction on the snow castle and the ice rink.

We cooked some duck in the wall tent and lots of the Bushkids were so surprised at the taste and how much they enjoyed it – we will look at brining in another duck for our feast.