Saturday, January 28, 2017

Tyke Hike #35 - Loew Lake

Winter returned after a few weeks of unusually (but appreciated) warm temperatures. Eleven bundled up adventurers set out on the beautiful Loew Lake Segment for natural exploration.

While we waited for more friends to arrive, a few tykes enjoyed sledding down the hill at the edge of the parking lot. But the real action took place on the trail.

Walking sticks in hand, the children led us through the pine forest and down to the frosty Oconomowoc River, bopping blazes along the way.

We stopped for some natural play at one of our favorite spots, affectionately named "the canoe tree." Though a bit too frigid today, we normally see people in kayaks and canoes on the river. However, even when we don't, we use a fallen down and hollowed put tree trunk on the edge of the river to enjoy the feel of a canoe while snapping a few cute pictures.

Of course, freshly fallen snow requires snow angels.

Our second natural play stop is a collection of fallen trees adjacent to the trail. Children always a get an adventure out of testing their limits on this wonderful area. The snow-capped limbs also added a new element of discovery.

Under adult guidance, a few children even used their walking sticks as fishing poles

One of my favorite spots of this segment is a patch of younger pines in the shadows of their towering relatives. Covered in snow, it made an even more picturesque scene, though my camera did not do it justice.

On the way back, we made sure to stop multiple times for "stump jumps."

Another wonderful morning of nature. Come join us at Pike Lake on February 25th.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Timberwolf Trail - Week 18 - 2016-17 Edition

Before Mother Nature could wet us down with sleet slowly transforming into snow, my nature kindergartners created some treats for animals. Whether making peanut butter feeders, pretzel necklaces or gathering up some old snacks donated to our space, we enjoyed preparing a feast for our animal friends.

Once outside, it was a puzzle of trying to figure out where we could put our new food creations. Some tried to place them in a cozy and warm spot. Some wanted their food to be up high. Some were fine with putting their treats at ground level. Either way, by the time we check out this spot tomorrow, I'm sure much of the food will have been already enjoyed.

When we left this area to explore, the weather turned from "rain snow" to mini snowballs." We enjoyed catching the snowballs with our tongues and winter gear as we headed to our hidden forest.

When exploring the hidden forest, we stopped to search for evidence of animal activity. I also showed them the spot where I spotted an owl earlier this week. The class went searching for all sort of nature before natural play took over (though the two are essentially the same thing most of the time).

While investigating the kids and their play, I noticed lots of climbing, digging, and creative game play. One student was making "stick art" by drawing in the snow. Another student found
"slime" oozing from a tree.

I even saw that the tarp we laid down a few months back was still doing well and ready for future restoration.

But what happened at the end of our time outside was the most exciting. The kids shown below noticed me walking up to the are we call the grass class. They knew that this is where we were meeting to end our nature day. However, not wanting me to get there, they formed a student barrier.

When I asked them why, they said that if I couldn't get to the grass class, I couldn't blow the whistle and "we could stay outside forever."

Friday, January 20, 2017

Timberwolf Trail - Week 17 - 2016-17 Edition - Retzer Nature Visit #3 - Tracking

Our snowshoeing field trip to track animals at the Retzer Nature Center was wonderful. . . .even without any snow. The Retzer staff and volunteers made it work despite Mother Nature's plan of bringing spring-like weather to this winter-themed excursion.

We spend much of the morning inside engaging in a variety of activities. We listened to the story Over and Under the Snow, by Kate Messner,

investigated some "sleeping" plant parts,

viewed a presentation on different types of winter travelers (Walker 1's, Walker 2's, Bounders, Gallopers),

 practiced each of those traveling techniques,

heard about and tried on various traditional-style snowshoes, including Ojibway, Bear Paw,and Alaskan Trail,

 and worked on a tracking stamp poster.

Then, we headed outside for some well-deserved natural play.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Timberwolf Trail - Week 16 - 2016-17

It was amazing to get back to nature kindergarten, The cold streak and subsequent rain put a damper on our outdoor time, but it was back to normal today. It was also interesting this week. My student teacher took over, making me more of an observer. I am astounded at what I observed. Seeing the class use nature as their teacher today and be engaged and excited about everything that was planned was an awesome sight to see and experience,

We kicked off the morning with our Math Stick Champion counting game where a new stick champion was crowned.

Then, the kids took off in small groups to complete a winter scavenger hunt. They worked well together in all areas of the land and completed their list. In fact they went above and beyond.  From, scat to animal dens, animal stashes to nests, and even a bone, they searched and found many wonderful items of nature.

We did it!

After the scavenger hunt was successfully completed, we headed back in. With an icy and tricky trail, the students found innovative ways to avoid falling.

"Hard to fall if you crawl"

Can you see the word "Fly?


This week, the students are researching animals associated with colder weather. After specifically learning about penguins, the class was taken outside to waddle their way into protecting precious penguin eggs disguised as recess balls.

While kids waited their turn to waddle and decided to dig up the snow in search of nuts, grass, and anything else that could be found.

Winter is a  season for new experiences and learning opportunities. Cold, yes. Trickier, at times. Worth the work, definitely!