Winter 2020

Children ages 4.5-8~
Time/Date: Fridays, 10AM-2PM

Maximum 10 Participants with 2 Instructors


We believe that through connectivity with the world around us we gain a sense of place, togetherness and empowerment. This program seeks to cultivate these feelings of place and connectivity in the participants through a variety of core routines and activities. Discovering the sentience of the beings around us and how we co-exist with them is a powerful experience that will hopefully stay with all of the participants as they traverse this land.

We will spend as much of the program as possible outside exploring the land that White Hawk is on, creating a home base, crafting from foraged materials, playing games, learning about the trees and animals that frequent the land and enjoy cooking over fire! The idea is to create a village feel where the participants will be mentored in various nature awareness skills based on their interests.

Activities and daily routines will include:

  • Working on a meditative practice, meeting the child where they are. This will include falling into a meditative practice through watching/observing animals, handcrafts, sit spots and more. One of the goals of this practice is to enrich their understanding and connection to the world around us. To observe animal behavior and connect to that animal’s personality and intrinsic worth initiating a lifelong process of being able to settle their mind and relax in a world full of stimuli.
  • Learning about different animal behaviors through observation and tracking. An emphasis will be placed on observation rather than physical contact with the animal/insect. Physical contact will only be encouraged when there is no danger to the other being of being harmed, physically or psychologically. Through this practice, an ethos of respect and the intrinsic worth of other beings’ well-being over our own curiosity will be encouraged. Our curiosity will be satiated and knowledge base will grow as we observe the animal as they go about their life unencumbered by our fingers and hands. In this time of change, it is important for me to at least expose the students I work with to alternative understandings of our place in this world, in this case, the idea that we are not above all others. Observing other beings and learning about their lives and eventually learning the ways that we can interact in a mutually beneficial way is one of the most impactful ways in which we can not only think that other beings’ are to be valued but feel it in our bones.
  • Identifying and gathering materials for crafts and food from the outdoors. It is easy for us all to seek out the materials we need from the store. We have found it incredibly empowering and impactful to learn how to make things out of the materials around us. For much of our hand work we will be working with materials from the and of White Hawk (with permission). This will provide us with limitations that will require problem solving, changing goals, ingenuity and creativity. As you can imagine, going through these various challenges is an invaluable thing to routinely go through for all of us. Additionally, it provides an important arena for the development of interpersonal relationships, teamwork and cooperation. As for foraging, it is extremely important to us that no one puts anything in their mouths unless they are 110% sure that they know what it is, they are able to identify it through several different key features and can id it in different areas under different growing conditions. Plant ID and edible and medicinal uses are an interest of mine that we would love to share, and will do so only when appropriate and with very strict parameters. We both come from a herbalism and foraging lineage that honors the plant’s that are being harvested it. A ceremony of song or gift of another sort will be practiced to show respect for the plant as well as gentle harvesting techniques. With this, a discussion of how that plant reproduces and what part of the plant is being harvested will bring us into an understanding of plant biology to add to the botany that we will be learning. An additional passion that we both hold is making paper, crayons, ink and so on out of gathered plant materials. More conventional art materials with a mind on how to recycle and be creative will also be featured and we work on different handcraft projects.
  • Gardening. Sophia has a background in garden education and would like to incorporate that into the spring program depending on available garden space and materials. We also both have experience in permaculture, agroforestry and agroecology that will feature into any garden curriculum.
  • Cooking. We will take advantage of the cooking circle at White Hawk to cook up some things that will warm our bones in the winter. We will practice cooking over an outdoor fire with pots, skewers, roasting and more! Pine, spruce or hemlock needle teas, hickory brews, ash cakes and more! We both have a passion for fermentation and slow food that will incorporate into the food program.
  • Shelter making and learning how to take care of ourselves in different weather conditions. Making a home base for us will be one of the first things that we will work on. Creating a space that will shield us from different weather patterns that we create together will be a project in team building, vision, creativity, and making a home. Hopefully it will be a place that will be able to develop through the seasons. This will be combined with working on thinking about different weather and how to best take care of ourselves under different conditions. This also includes fire making emphasizing safe fire practices and learning about how to build different types of fires depending on what you are using it for.
  • Free Play. There will be a substantial amount of time devoted to creating a free play environment as devoid as possible of our agendas and devoted to the creative play of the participants.
  • Storytelling and singing. We will tell a lot of stories and will also encourage the students to tell their own thus working on their own creativity, ability to develop a story line, comfort over speaking within a group.
  • Academic skills. Based on where each participant is, we will be able to incorporate math, reading, writing and so on into the program when appropriate.

Indoor space
When the weather is unsafe, we will have access to an indoor space at White Hawk where we will continue our explorations either in the kitchen, through books (ie learning about different tracks or trees etc), crafts, writing and other activities.
Keeping program costs low
To keep the program costs as low as possible, we will ask parents to donate items when available such as apples or potatoes, etc. We will have access to Earth Arts’ materials as well.

About Sophia:

An Ithaca native, Sophia has an undergraduate degree in International Relations and Anthropology from SUNY Geneseo. After leaving her job at a political research center in Istanbul, Turkey, she spent time in the mountains of southern Turkey where she ate pomegranates right off the trees and learned about compost toilets and alternative living. This experience propelled her to engage with the life around her and explore other ways of being and knowing in this world. Since that time she went on to complete a masters in Human Ecology from Lund University in Sweden, completed an internship in agroecology at Wagenengin University in the Netherlands and spent time wwoofing and interning at farms in several countries. In 2016 she was a playworker at Ithaca Children’s Garden summer camp and worked at Ithaca Montessori as a classroom teacher with ages 5 months to 5 years. From 2017-2019 she was a fellow with the Allegheny Mountain Institute in Virginia where she had the space and support to build relationships in the forest she lived in, took an herbalism course and received a Permaculture Design Certificate and worked as a farm and education assistant at the Virginia School for the Deaf and the Blind for a year. Since moving back to Ithaca in January 2019, she has worked as a field instructor at Primitive Pursuits and as the registrar and food and nutrition educator at Ithaca Children’s Garden. She is also a teacher at the Lantern Program. Her interests include wildcrafting, herbalism, lacto-fermentating, cooking, foraging and painting Ukrainian Easter eggs. Her goals are to share the wonders of the world we live in through participatory observation and the building of relationships with all whom she interacts with.

Second Instructor: TBA (based on enrollment numbers).


6 WEEK SPRING SESSION: Fridays April 17-June 5 ** $112 per child

If you are interested in signing your child/children up for this program, please email Sophia at by December 30th (or before) to reserve your spot.