It was an eerily foggy forest day that happened to coincide with my birthday. To celebrate, the theme of this forest day was "Gifts of Nature." We discussed what nature provides for us and why we are responsible for taking care of it.
Before hiking out to our oak tree, we stopped at an area that the kids had planted some prairie seeds about a month earlier. With my initial prairie restoration spot not necessarily following the rules required for proper restoration, in my opinion, it wasn't too promising that any new plants would sprout up. I was certainly pleasantly surprised when some new plantings had already taken shape.
The kids then quickly reviewed what the five things we agreed new plants would need to survive (water, air, sun, soil, space). With them knowing that in a few weeks, they will be receiving their very own prairie plant to place in the ground, we had to find a place they they felt fit all five requirements. So we searched.
After finding a place and reading a story Why Should I Protect Nature?, it was off to natural play.
Continuing with the theme of protecting nature and giving back to the Earth, we reconvened and walked around the perimeter of the land to clean up any litter trapped in the treeline. Of course, in our excursion we came across some new garlic mustard areas that we simply had to eradicate. It has been fun to have parents tell me that their child is pulling out invasives at their own house and also pointing them out around town.
Later in the afternoon, we simultaneously practiced counting by 1's, 5's and 10's while making powerful and puny predictions about distance. This took us back to the area where we had previously scouted for our prairie plants. This time, armed with a marking flag of their own, each student found a specific location for their future planting site of their native Wisconsin wildflower or prairie plant.
After another rousing round of garden yoga and some more tick checks, it was back inside. Many students stopped on the way to pick dandelions and make wishes. I think my birthday wish came true. I was able to spend a great day outdoors working with my forest friends.