Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Timberwolf Trail - Week 10- Retzer Visit #2 - Preparing for Winter - 2016-17 Edition

The nature kindergarten collaboration with the wonderful Retzer Nature Center continued. This time around, our school and all 4 kindergarten classes hosted a variety of teaching naturalists from the center as we all worked together to learn about getting ready for winter.

Together to start off, we read a story called Time to Sleep by Denise Fleming before going over the agenda for our two-hour visit. In separate groups determined by class room, we would search for evidence of winter preparations before working on creating our own winter dens.

My class led our teaching naturalists to our fallen tree area, the location of the mouse houses we have made and been consistently checking.

We searched for signs of animals preparing for winter. We certainly found some.  Besides our ransacked mouse houses, we found chewed corn cobs,  black locust seed pods, critter holes, possible nesting sites, and an assortment of acorns and hickory nuts.

We trekked through other areas of the land to find more evidence that winter was coming. We ran into examples of animals on the mice including animal scat, feathers, and coyote fur.  We also came across other interesting talking points like galls, tree cavities, and owl pellets.

Our den, under construction

On our way to the student-named sapling forest, we spooked a pair of deer including a young buck before searching for other signs and starting our den construction.

It was then time to reconvene with the rest of our kindergarten friends to meet some of Retzer's animal friends. We encountered  ornate box turtles, a bullfrog, walking sticks, and an albino bull snake named Peaches before saying goodbye to our Retzer friends. We will reconvene this collaboration with a trip to the Retzer Nature Center in January.

In the afternoon, we continued our outdoor learning with our weekly counting practice tradition of Stick Champions, where we crowned a new champion. Then it was off to the hidden forest, where along the way, we kept our eyes open for the dens created by our other kindergarten friends.

We noticed lots of cavities and winter home possibilities.

The whole class found 2 of the 3 remaining dens before stopping to allow for more exploration. In the hidden forest, we looked under logs and scanned the woods for winter dens and signs of winter's arrival. We found lots of bugs and many new natural play possibilities.  The class especially enjoyed impersonating Tarzan on some vines and bouncing on the "vine trampoline."

Despite the nearly sixty degree weather making our winter preparations seem a bit premature, Old Man Winter and his friendly flakes are expected to arrive this weekend.  Let it snow! Let it snow! Let it snow! Our snowshoeing superstar students are ready for all the wonderful winter learning ahead.

Tarzan Time
Bugs anyone?

Vine Trampoline

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