Whew it has been a long time since I utilized this blog! Now seems as good of a time as ever to get back to it. Here is our current update!


When I started Creatures in the Wild it was in response to the 2016 presidential election. My brain decided needed to make a difference in the world, to counteract all of the negative I was seeing.

My whole adult life up until then was spent in farm to table kitchens, working on connecting people to nature through food. The step to open a Forest Preschool was a natural one from there.

My goal was to facilitate a connection to nature and creativity for children, that they could the carry into adulthood. I spent a year researching, consulting experts, interviewing kindergarten teachers and reading every book I could get my hands on. In that year we hosted countless nature groups, attended many meetings and had our first Summer Adventure.

Since then the Forest Preschool has opened and made its home amongst the cedar trees at the Woodchuck Hill Field & Forest Preserve. Nature Group meet ups have been happening all over the Syracuse area, helping people discover new wild areas and teaching them how to embrace free play in the forest. Summer Adventures have been a huge hit. They bring kids from all over the area and allow them to spend a whole week immersed in nature and projects of their own creation.

This past summer we opened the Studio. It seemed like a perfect addition to the Creatures Family. A place for kids to come and immerse themselves in creative play and art?! How could that not be perfect? Well. Unfortunately it was not. The large team that started it dissolved and it was all too much for a single mom of three to manage. This past January the Studio closed. I thought I would be devastated when this happened. That it would feel like the end of the world. But oddly enough once I was back outside, and with my own kids more, the opposite happened.

All of a sudden my creativity has come back! Nature Groups are being planned, this time on the weekends to make them more accessible. 
A new Saturday morning Forest Art class is in the works for this spring. 
Summer Adventures are almost full so I am adding another week. 
Now that my children are not stuck in an art studio constantly they are becoming my sweet wild babes again.

The Studio may not have lasted but the lessons we learned were invaluable.

Thank you to everyone who came on the journey with me.

And don’t be sad my friends. SRW JOYCE PHOTOGRAPHY is taking over the art end at her Studio. Just wait until you see the Birthday Parties and Classes she has in the works. It has been so fun to watch it all come together.

Check out the her Facebook for more information on art classes and keep an eye on the Creatures facebook for outdoor classes. The website should be update in the next few weeks.

Creatures will also be posting job openings for the summer and next school year!

2019 is going to be an amazing year. Now let’s get outside.

- Casey Kirkland Johnson

Amazing poem and art by Sarah Wiley Joyce


Using our senses at Green Lakes!

For the third week of the winter session we explored Green Lakes State Park! This park as a fascinating history and the lakes are extremely rare, so it gave us lots to discuss. The snow was extremely easy to pack so as soon as the kids got out of their cars they started making snowmen and rolling the biggest snow balls they could. 

Once we were organized and together we discussed our theme of the week, using our senses! Along our walk we stopped to use each sense. The kids felt all of the different types of bark, listened to the many sounds in the park, looked for hard to find creatures, and got to smell and taste different forest edibles.  

Along on walk we kept hearing a Pileated Woodpecker! It took a long time but we finally spotted it as it flew to a different tree! On our way back one of the kids spotted a rare winter site, a spider!!!

See it up there! It was the tiniest little spider crawling along the snow. The kids thought it was fascinating, until it started crawling towards them! This enabled us to talk about how we have been seeing early signs of spring this year, last weeks eastern bluebirds and this week a spider and new tree growth. 

After our walk the children all made little wind chimes and worked on their fine motor skills. Of course I forgot to take pictures of it! Next week we will be making some forest art at the Woodchuck Hill Field and Forest Preserve, come and join us!

Going on a Squirrel Hunt and Fairy Houses

This week we visited the Chittenango Falls State Park. The kids first wanted to check out the semi frozen waterfalls and we discussed how the water freezes as it falls to form the ice.

 Brandy taught us about the different squirrels that live in our area and now to look for signs of them. The snowfall from the previous night was light and fluffy, which made the hiking easy on the kids. Along our walk we looked out for signs of animals in the snow and places to make fairy houses. 

After adventuring and finding many places to build we settled on making the houses under the exposed roots of a tree at a frozen stream bed. 

The frozen stream made for an excellent impromptu sensory experience. They pushed all of the snow off, used it as an ice skating rink and then broke up the ice. After they had piles of broken ice (there was no water underneath) which they used to make different structures with. 

The kids got to observe a whole flock of Eastern Bluebirds with binoculars! They are defiantly not supposed to be here until spring but we were happy to observe them, and they were curious about our little flock of happy children also. 

The fairy house was complete! The ice shards made lovely couches and the children used their imaginations to gather supplies and make a cozy shelter for any local fairies. 

Next week we will be at Green Lakes State Park where we will explore using our senses to observe the natural world around us and make wind chimes!

Winter Tree Study

The first class in our Winter Session was spent exploring Woodchuck Hill Field and Forest Preserve. The children made observations about everything they discovered in the snowless forest. Brandy taught us how to identify local trees when there are no leaves to help us! 

When there is no snow in the winter it makes the forest extra special. You can see right through the trees and the forest floor is a treasure trove. The little adventurers collected many of these treasures and we discussed what they all were. 

This particular wild area there are numerous extra special trees growing. Weird growths, trees that do not belong in our state, different kids of trees growing twisted together. 

On this land there is a mysterious tree house that the children love to climb in to and imagine what it was used for. It even has a chimney and bunk beds so they always have some amazing ideas!

February 18th we will be going back to this wild area to see what has changed and to create some forest art!