Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Timberwolf Trail - Week 11 - 2015-16 Edition

Looking at the forecast days ahead is always problematic, but when you're working with five and six year olds in an outdoor environment, there is no such thing as too much preparation. The earlier forecast predictions called for howling winds, dipping temperatures, and rain, rain, rain. I think we were all happy the meteorologists were wrong.

After working in our nature journals at our "sit spots" and focusing on attempting multiple words, spacing, and even full sentences before adding illustrations, we headed to a new part just off the trail. I previewed this activity for the kids with a tantalizing teaser: they would be able to go in a tree.

When we arrived the tree in question, the students realized it was a fallen tree. With an exposed and decomposing stump hollowed out with enough room to hold a kindergartner or two, it was certainly a popular place to be.

The students enjoyed visiting the hollowed trunk, but ended up being more preoccupied with climbing the moss-covered and massive trunk. They explored the surrounding areas to view and experiment with younger trees, dried out fungi, and burrs. Of course, they were most thrilled/grossed out to find scat on the tree, prompting kids to debate what animal used the tree and where they might hibernate for the upcoming winter months.

Soon, we left the tree and headed back to the oak tree classroom for a story about hibernating by Denise Fleming entitled Time to Sleep. In a very "circular" way, this story taught students about various hibernating animals, many of which may very well be soon hibernating around that very classroom.

One of my goals with this land is to promote outdoor exploration. Another is to build risk and rewards into the daily educational routine of the students. Yet another is to develop and nurture a love and appreciation of nature and a passion for preserving it. However, one more superficial goals is to "pretty" the land with more varieties of wildflowers and native plants. While one small area is currently covered by a tarp for the beginning stages of prairie restoration, there is one corner section with seems like a beautiful spot for a butterfly garden. At least that is what I envision in my head. Right now, that area is loaded with goldenrod plants, so I am working on slowly diversifying that area.

My students helped the diversification process by collecting seeds from those goldenrod plants. They were very excited to take them home and plant them. Sadly, that glee turned to despair when I mentioned they would have to wait until spring to get the planting started.

With future planting on our minds, it was a great time to collect some of the many fallen leaves and load up our compost bins. As fall turns into winter, those leaves will work through the process of decomposition and create nutrient rich soil that will feed the garden and potentially that future butterfly garden. Nature is such a beautiful circle.


  1. Awesome naturalist teacher, I just wish all kids could experience nature with you!

    1. You're too kind! Thanks! This has been an absolutely amazing experience and is so much fun!