Thursday, June 15, 2017

Saunters 2017

Nearly 50 recently graduated kindergarten and first graders enjoyed their Saunters experience this week. Please enjoy snapshots of some of their experiences below.

Day One was at Lapham Peak. A sunny and pleasant day was just the right ingredients for a marvelous kick off.

First Creature Capture

Gall Talk

Spittle Bug Fun

Play time

The good kind of cavity

Fungus among us

Lunch on my work area for the latest Lapham peak reroute project

Investigating Oak Apple Galls

The Tower!

Day Two kicked off with some natural play time at the host school's outdoor learning area before heading to the Hartland Marsh. The Saunters students persevered through heat humidity and a ton of mosquitoes.

Play time

The long boardwalk stroll

Investigating  (and avoiding the urge to cool off in) the river

The "Magic" tree

Day 3 wrapped up at Loew Lake for plenty of exploration and play with many families and friends.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Tyke Hike # 39 - Lapham Peak

On this beautiful summer-like day, nearly forty hikers came to Lapham Peak to check out the Ice Age Trail and the Tyke Hike program. With the temperatures a bit sticky and the general population very young, I expected a very slow pace.

Of course, I failed to anticipate the speed and endurance of the Tyke Hike returners. Though over 30 of the hikers were first timers, there were a few returners (including Embry) who took the lead and set a faster pace. Luckily for all of us, our super sweeper, Kevin, was there to guide the younger groups while I wrangled up the outdoor enthusiasts up front.

Despite there being occasional gaps, we were able to come together to do some discovering, focusing on some of the bugs that use the wildflowers and native plants for food and habitats. We found galls, spittle bugs, and various wildflowers, including phlox, spiderwort, and coneflowers.

Of course, we had to have some natural play time as well. Nothing beats stump jumping, log leaping, and rock climbing in a beautiful forest.

Friday, June 9, 2017

Timberwolf Trail - Week 34 - 2016-17 Edition

Another year of Nature Kindergarten is history. While I am sad to see my group go, I know that they will take what they have learned and experienced and use it to grow and grow and grow. To celebrate our last week, we spent many minutes with all four classes outside all at the same time. It was awesome to see nearly 100 kindergartners immersed in nature, getting the opportunity to "be kids again."

It also helped me realize the importance of not only continuing this work, but taking every opportunity to help others learn more about it so that they too will take part in the outdoor educational movement.

Today, we spent a lot of time outside doing everything one last time. Though bittersweet, it was a great way to finish our time together.

A final look at our "Birds We've Observed" board was quite revealing. While we saw and learned about many birds, I cannot confirm nor deny the existence of all these species. :)

Our final nature art project was taking donated paper birch tree cookies and creating designs, illustrations, and self-portraits with watercolors, markers, and finger paints.

We couldn't end the year without another service project. Using donated wood chips, we transferred, spread and spread wood chips on some of the mussier parts of the trail that can get a bit sticky in wetter conditions.

We had to visit the natural play are for one more round of Math Stick Champions. We even crowned a repeat Stick champion!

Once we found ourselves at the oak tree, we relaxed for a group picture before going through a "year in Review" question and answer session where we did our silly chants, sang our nature songs, pointed out some landmarks, and went through just a fraction of all we have done this year.

Then it was off to the hidden forest for one final garlic mustard pull.

We also might have played a little bit. :)

And you can't go to the forest without a search for bones and toads.

Once we emerged, we gave our new tree some much needed water on this hot and humid afternoon.

Back to the field for some of our classic game, Hawks & Mice.

We felt the urge to climb trees so off we went to the fallen tree.

After our final class shot, the rest of our time was nature play. One final creature was found.

Like every other outdoor session this time of year, we checked for any new insect friends before heading in for the day and year.

Though the year is done, the adventure is only just beginning. . .