Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Timberwolf Trail - Week 13 - 2017-18 Edition

We kicked off the season of giving with a look at how nature is always giving us gifts. Mother Nature is a generous giver and we enjoy her generosity on a daily basis.

Using marked flags scattered through our land, we stopped to reveal a letter and complete an activity connected to it. The first stop was the letter A. Nature's first gift was an ACTIVE and healthy body. We celebrated this gift with a  few of our favorite physical activities including a review of our Leaves, Branches, Trunk, & Roots song and a practice rendition of our newest poem: Gingerbread is Fun to Make.

We then searched and found N, for NEW discoveries, NEW places to play, and NEW things to learn. We went to the hidden forest and were given  he challenge to explore a new area and/or try a new activity.

It was time for nature's third gift: U for UNDERSTANDING. We took a  break at the oak tree classroom and chatted about all they thing we now understand because of our time in nature. Whether it was the life cycle of a tree or ecosystems, getting ready for winter or habitats, we certainly have a better understanding of nature because of the time we spend in it.

The fourth flag represented T, the gift of TESTING ourselves. We looked at the area that is under restoration and explained hoe this class would be testing their own mental and physical ability soon as they did some restoration of their own.

On to gift number five: E, for education. We talked about how nature teaches us things and how many things we use every day are because of the things people learn  from observing and studying nature. We stopped by the inside tree to talk about burrs actually inspired the creation of Velcro.

The final flag was R, for RECREATION, the fancy word for play. We didn't talk much about this one, but we did do it. We played at our natural play area and headed to our open field for a review round of Hawks & Mice.

In the afternoon we nature journaled, worked on our winter dens, and discussed our next few weeks and how we would give back to nature. We will be trying out some new handmade birdfeeders, taking a garbage collection hike around the school, and decorating an evergreen tree based on Eve Bunting's book, Night Tree.

It's the least we can do for Mother Nature.

Friday, November 24, 2017

Tyke Hike #46 - Black Friday Hike - Pike Lake

The Tyke Hikes of 2017 have dealt with freezing rain, thunderstorms, subzero temperatures, and anything else Mother Nature decided to send. Today, however, she made up for it with an absolutely gorgeous bright and shiny day in the mid-sixties. Approximately thirty hikers joined ups for the longest Tyke Hike (in distance) to date.

Originally planned for a trek along the Back Forest Nature Trail, muddy terrain altered the route. While just about doubling up the distance, we were able to view wonderful sights never seen on a Tyke Hike before.

The nature kindergarten teacher inside me had to take advantage of some teachable moments. Whether it was pointing out some glacial features, discussing the options animals have for winter (Hibernate, Activate, Migrate, or HAM), or identifying different leaves, I couldn't turn down a few mini lessons along the way.

Though we ended up hiking a longer distance, we still took the time and had the energy for some natural play. We made sure to make it rain leaves, look under logs, test out nature's balance beams, and rest on some stumps.


We even found some giant leaves and a very special tree throne that the kids took turns enjoying.

Even with a longer route, a trek up the tower is a Pike Lake tradition that just couldn't be missed.

It was great to hike with many new Tyke Hike families. The weather was perfect and the kids were fantastic adventurers. Only one more Tyke hike in 2017. Hope to see you there!

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Timberwolf Trail - Week 12 - 2017-18 Edition

I have plenty to be thankful for this year. Mother Nature always provides a wonderful array of things that educate. entertain, and inspire. However. I am most thankful for the children I share these experiences with each and every day.

In this short week, we focused on checking on and fortifying our winter dens.

Then, though the ground is still green, the chill of wintertime is in the air so what better way than to be prepare for the fabulous flying flakes of the season is to get on the snowshoes in the outdoors.

After a successful round of snowshoeing (or grass-shoeing to be more precise), we wrapped up our week with natural play.

A special thanks to all my nature kindergarten friends. I can't wait to see where we are headed next!

Friday, November 17, 2017

Timberwolf Trail - Week 11 CONTINUED - 2017-18 Edition

Earlier this week, out friends form the Retzer Nature Center came to our school and helped us deepen our understanding of how animals get ready for winter. Besides migrating and hibernating, we focused on the animals that stayed awake and zoomed in on what they did to prepare for the harsh chills of winter. We knew we couldn't help them get thicker fur, but we could give them food and help provide a cozy shelter so that is just what we did.

With our mouse houses ravaged by visitors an Mother Nature, we wanted to help our animals out with more permanent structures, so we started brainstorming, collecting materials, and creating cozy winter dens. Of course, we first had to clean u the first floor. Bye bye mouse houses!

In our clean up, we found various pumpkins with unique evidence of animal interactions. Whether it was a tunneled in entrance or left behind scat, we knew that the creatures enjoyed their treat.

After clearing our shoebox community and depositing the leftovers in the dumpster, we sought new, natural materials for our den developments.

Our dens aren't quite ready yet, but we look forward to finalizing them next week, just in time to give their inhabitants a nice Thanksgiving feast.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Timberwolf Trail - Week 11 - 2017-18 Edition - Retzer Visit #2 - Getting Ready for Winter

Our nature kindergarteners were happy to host the naturalists from the Retzer Nature Center for our second experience together. Though Mother Nature brought some extra water, we managed to get our jobs done the best way we know how.

Our experience kicked off with a discussion on how animals prepare for winter. Whether it is through the thickening of our winter coats or the collection and storage of food, we learned about and then searched for evidence of our animal friends preparing for a long, cold winter.

Once outside, we trekked to one of our favorite spots to collect food for our animal friends and build a cozy winter den.

The rain may have slowed us down but it didn't keep us down. We found various items that we added to our mouse houses, including nuts, mushrooms, leaves, and bark.

Den in progress

Still going. . .

Our den :)

After completing the den we walked over to our mouse houses. The wet weather and our visitors decimated our mouse houses, but we were happy the food was used. That being said, we noticed our "cornkin" was smashed yet filled with plenty of corn. I guess our animal friends are picky eaters.

We enjoyed visiting a den made by another class. Then, it was back inside to meet some new friends like. . .

walking sticks,

ornate box turtles,

a tiger salamander,

a painted turtle,

and a corn snake.

Our second Retzer experience was wonderful. Here's to hoping Mother Nature gifts us with the white stuff so we can snowshoe in January.