Gear for the seasons
As the saying goes…it is never bad weather, it is just bad clothing!
The Forest School of Minnesota has received wonderful service and accomodation for our Forest School families with the Polarn O Pyret store in Edina, Minnesota. Diane, the store manager has been wonderful in helping to outfit the children for our four seasons of Minnesota weather for our students. As we are a unique school experience, one of the few in North America that participates in our Forest classroom year around for four to eight ours daily, we have been able to have a wonderful partnership with Polarn O Pyret. The gear they make and sell is of stellar quality and function and has been a wonderful compliment to our school. We are very fortunate to enjoy a wonderful partnership with Polarn and their superior product line.
After many years of family and friends sending us the necessary water proof wear from other parts of the world, The Forest School of Minnesota's partnership with Polarn O Pyret, provides the essential comfort for FSMN students to enjoy year around exploring. This is the most functional and sweet looking waterproof jacket and overpant I have had the the pleasure to work with…as they actually work to keep us dry. Please contact me if you would like more information.
Layering is the key. I have found Polarn O Pyret warm woolens to be the best for the base layer. It is a bit expensive, but worth the investment as it allows children to stay outdoors much longer with comfort.
Again Polarn O Pyret or any that are itch free, for both hands and feet. For younger children especially have the socks long enough to go up past the elbow. We use these under the mittens to help hands stay warm and it works beautifully. Please provide four pairs, two for the hands and two for the feet. We will keep some as back up in their school cubby.
Boots ~ Winter and WaterProofs
There are many important features to look for, warmth of course and boots that will stay on. The best boot that I have found for children are Kamik boots. They are light enough, and warm for our Minnesota winter weather, I strongly discourage Bogs for our group, as the children over the years who have had them complain of cold feet in the winter and I discovered their feet were often wet after a short time playing. They are truly the best boots for Minnesota winter play.
Other things to look for in children’s boots are boots that will stay on, a strap by the ankle is important, also going up to mid-calf or a bit higher. Look for boots that state comfort to -30˚F, these should provide comfort for our time outdoors.
Waterproof boots, I strongly encourage children's Hunter boots. The design fits around the ankle to prevent the boot from slipping off when we are enjoying muddy forest conditions, and they last. When trying them on, wear wool socks, as the boots should be worn with wool socks to prevent any possible blisters.
We have seen many different boot brands throughout our years of teaching, and the Hunter Boots for wet muddy day are the best waterproof boot for children. The Kamik boot is the best for cold weather, hands down. All other brands, in our Minnesota conditions with the use that we need, do not compare in comfort, function and quality.
Snow Pants or Overalls
I think the overalls seem to be more comfortable for the children and prevent snow from getting in the waistline, also look for snow pants that have reinforced fabric sewn to the knee, it helps to prevent ripping when we are crawling around the forest. We use our waterproof over from Polarn O Pyret to wear over our snow pants, they are a additional layer of insulation and keep the children dry.
Try not to get the soft “ripstop” fabric, it has a tendency to do exactly that, rip when we are in the forest. A hood is a nice added feature to help keep them warm when the day is blustery and cold wind is blowing.
Please get a hat that can be secured under the chin and also does not slide down over the eyes, a frequent problem with hats. Without the attachment under the chin the hat has a tendency to slide off or get pulled off by a tree branch or brush, and sometimes get lost in our explorations.
Good mittens are harder to find than one would thing. They have a tendency to come on and off in our time outdoors multiple times in the day. Please look for mittens that are long enough to be secured under the jacket sleeve to prevent snow from collecting at the wrist. Please purchase mittens that are easy for you to put on your children. Think of a cold winter day and replacing the mittens back on those little hands again and again to keep them toasty warm. The easier the better. Have them try them on with the socks and without. Two pairs will be needed. We have warm dry success with the Polarn O Pyret mitten system.
Please know that all of the information above is a guideline to work from. My years of work with the children and being outdoors have provided some insight as to what works well in my opinion, however, I will work with whatever you provide and will make it work as needed. Thank you and think of all the fun your child will be able to have when they have good clothing to keep them comfortable outdoors. Don’t forget about your own clothing too, so you can also play outdoors.
Natural Bug Spray recipe
- 30 drops Eucalyptus Citridora (repels mosquitos)
- 10 drops Rose Geranium (repels ticks)
- 10 drops lavender (protects and soothes skin)
- 10 drops peppermint (repels insects, cools skin)
Mix oils in a 4 oz. bottle. Add 1 ounce of vinegar or vodka and swirl together. Fill bottle with water and shake well. Apply often!
The Center for Disease Control recognizes the Eucalyptus Citridora is as effective as DEET.
- 1 drop lavender (calms inflammation)
- 1 drop Tea Tree (treats irritation)
- 1 drop Peppermint (numbs itching)
Itching/stinging should cease immediately. If itching does not stop, try 1 drop of clove. Normally, you will only need 1-2 applications for mosquito bites, but more for spider or other insect bites.