Thursday, June 30, 2016

Tyke Hike #25 - Lapham Peak

Thirty-six hikers headed out on a portion of Lapham Peak's Ice Age Trail in search of bugs. We found so much more.  With this Tyke Hike focusing on on the importance of insects in nature, I was happy to see many ready and willing hikers light up when I mentioned we might get dirty in our quest to find our little six-legged friends.

As we trekked the trail, we discussed some of the hikers' favorite animals and the fact that we could add up all the animals in the world besides insects and  there would still be more insects. We discussed how insects can be found anywhere and also brainstormed why insects are good for nature, even if they can be annoying and pesty at times.

We stopped to find tiny frogs and daddy long legs spiders even though they aren't insects. Nature doesn't always follow the plan. :) We did however stop off at a little meadow and find various beetles. We discussed gall flies, spittlebugs, and even found real life examples of each.

Once we got a bit deeper into the woods, we found a good stopping point where I performed a Head, Thorax, Abdomen song and dance and encouraged the hikers to join in. Then after a few renditions of this song, it was time for a bug hunt. We searched under near logs, leaves and rocks and found all sorts of things from spiders, eggs, and worms. We then headed back to the starting point to get hands on experiences with some insects and hear stories for our librarian representative.

In two weeks, Tyke Hikes crosses the county line for an excursion at beautiful Pike Lake. Hope to see you there!

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Tyke Hike #24 - Monches

Mother Nature can be tricky. With severe weather in the forecast all day, it was wonderful to see a very clear radar about an hour or so before the hike was set to begin. However, as if she knew we were leaving, the clouds overtook the sky as we trekked to the Monches trailhead. However, with just barely  a sprinkle, I was hopeful the clouds wouldn't scare families away. My hopes were dashed as the crowd was much smaller than expected. Though there were many inquiries and a solid amount of interest from the library-goers, a small but adventurous 9 hikers set foot on the Monches trail. And of course, as soon as I started introducing the hike, the rain began falling.  Luckily, our covered canopy sheltered us for the most part.

A little rain wouldn't stop us from exploring wildlife of Wisconsin. Knowing that the rain would probably impede our chances of seeing and hearing many animals, we instead focused on evidence of animals. I was impressed by all the things the kids found. From scat to acorns, critter holes to moss, and fungi to tree cavities rotting logs, these anxious explorers were thirsty for knowledge and excited to explore along the trail. The teacher side of me also provided some history about not only the Ice Age Trail, but some of our state animals and the reason why we are called the Badger State. We got our hands dirty as we lifted logs in search of insects and sifted through leaves to see what we could find. And as Mother Nature would have it, just as we decided to head back to the start, a few low rumbles of thunder confirmed we had made the right decision.

While the quaint group of 9 was less than I was expecting, I had a great time providing more attention to the young explorers and was happy to chat with them about their own adventures. Quality always rules over quantity, and although we got a little wet and had to cut our hike a bit short, I hope everyone had a quality experience. I definitely did.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Saunters 2016

Saunters 2016 is in the books. The weather cooperated, the students sauntered, and nature taught us many new things. Each morning lesson previewed the day's hiked, revealed more facts about Wisconsin's amazing Ice Age National Scenic Trail, and provided background information about our special guest: John Muir.  During the day, we trekked through a diverse and unique set of segments while also being able to go off trail for a bit before returning to school, downloading our pictures writing about our experiences, and having natural play time at the school's outdoor learning area. Here's just a tiny portion of our adventures.

Monday - Lapham Peak & Delafield

Staring at the Lapham Peak Tower

Nemahbin Spring

Prairie Walking

Tuesday - Hartland 

Cooling off in the marsh

The famous Ice Age Alley
Another dip in the Bark River

Stop at a splash pad while urban hiking???? Yes please!

Wednesday - Scuppernong & Eagle

Brady's Rock

Well Water Station

Thursday - Waterville & UW Waukesha Field Station

Marlin teaching about kilns

Time to sweep for bugs

Investigating our insect catches

Service learning - pulling garlic mustard

Friday - Monches

Using our photos to make a collage  "HAMILTON"


Family & Community hike, about 60 strong

Until next year. . .Happy Sauntering!

Friday, June 10, 2016

Timberwolf Trail - The Last Week - Week 38 - 2015-16 Edition

The last days of the school year are always bittersweet, but this year was a little more bitter and a little more sweet. In this inaugural year of forest kindergarten, I have been absolutely blown away by what my students accomplished and by how much joy there was in simply enjoying nature. In this final week, we visited some of our favorite spots and I let the kids go. Go explore. Go climb. Go play. Go be a kid.

They obliged. They played games and explored. Without any directions, they created a "new" trail, found new ways to find and capture insects, had a bear calling contest and just enjoyed each other using the splendor of what nature offers us every day.

We climbed trees.
We used trees to do some gymnastic routines.
We swung from vines.
We found bugs.
We worked as a team to find more bugs under trees.
We went off trail.
We looked for bugs in new places.

We got smiles.
We got scared.
We got silly.
Nature-inspired student gift made for me, Mr. Doughnut. :)

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Prairie Planting Party

Planting time

With the students spending some time over the least few weeks collecting heavy sticks and rocks and tarping some areas as part of our prairie restoration. I felt compelled to reward them with a party on the final Friday of the school year. Of course, parties in our classroom revolve around nature.

Just kissing my guns :)

With the humidity climbing as the day moved along, we enjoyed quite the workout, but my class of nature-lovers did an amazing job planting. They then followed up their own planting by helping guide the other kindergarten in the classrooms. In the process, nearly one hundred plants are now spread out over a section of the land.


While the students reviewed parts of the plant, the needs of a plant, and other brain-stretching exercises, I had my own workout hand-tilling about 100 different holes for the kids to complete their planting. All worth it as now we have a higher diversity of plants on our land including lupine, indigo, coneflower, prairie smoke, compass plant and big bluestem grass.

We are all excited to see how this transforms our land. I'm also excited that next year's planing should be a lot easier since the tarp is already set up.

Restoring the prairie one class at a time