Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Timberwolf Trail - Week 32 - 2017-18 Edition

Spring appears to be here to stay, so let's just my class will be outside. A lot!

This week, our new "bird buddies" enjoyed filling the feeders with seeds and suet as part of their classroom job. In the final quarter of the year, I aim to "start and end each day with natural play."

The kids were excited to play at the new fallen tree. Over the weekend, a windstorm took down a dead tree. Now we have three fallen trees in a pretty close proximity. Being the teacher I am, I already see lesson plan for tree climbing, We've got a beginner tree, an intermediate tree, and an expert tree.

This week, we also met with our friend from the DNR. She led us on a search for signs of spring hike. We definitely found spring!

We found birds.

We searched for bugs and other creepy crawlies.

We discovered wild onion

We looked for buds.

One of our other spring activities is our participation in the Natural Resource Foundation's Great Wisconsin Birdathon. To wrap up our unit on birds, we are practicing birding by observing them on our land raising funds to help birds of the badger state. After today's birding session, we have correctly identifies twenty species.

We also kicked off our first official round of outdoor stations. Breaking into five groups, we spent approximately twenty minutes engaged in a station activity before coming back together to share and break off into natural play. We will rotate stations and add more along the way.

One station was nature journaling and a second was looking through nature books.

Our service station was searching for litter.

Our ABC station was matching rocks with lower case letters with uppercase partners made with sticks.

The fifth and final station was our insects station, We caught  a variety of bugs and other creatures.

As I gave the signal and requested the class to reconvene together, I was alerted to head back towards the oak tree classroom. There, I ran into a group of children staring into the tree. On a snag near the top was a downy woodpecker and soaring high above the tree was a sandhill carne. the best part of this was that the kids noticed it on their own by following the sound of the woodpecker and then taking time to observe the bird together.

When we finally did get together, the highlight of our sharing involved a closer look at our captured critters.

I look forward to outdoor stations and plan in incorporating them earlier and more frequently next year.

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Tyke Hike #51 - Monches & Earth Day Birthday Hike

Earth Day may have to be re-named Mud Day after today's hike. Thirty-five hiker and a pooch endured slippery sloppiness and had a great time at the Monches Segment.

With my daughter, Embry, officially turning five a few weeks back, I have her the opportunity to truly be the hike leader. She performed splendidly, navigating us up the initial slope and setting a decent and manageable pace as we headed to the "big rock" we use for a  group photo shot.

Bopping blazes along the way, we found a nice spot to climb and explore. Some balanced. Some discovered. Some searched. All had fun.

We then headed deeper into the woods to get to our reading tree. I read No Two Alike, by Keith Byars. Interestingly enough, a hiker mentioned that Mr. Byars was actually his teacher back in the day.

We headed back after a few more minutes of play. Throughout the hike, the temperatures rose, so the snow melted a but more and the trail provided more sloppy fun along the way back to the trailhead.

Later in the day, we crossed the street to get to the adjacent trailhead at the Loew Lake Segment for Embry's second annual Earth Day birthday hike. This segment was even sloppier.

Despite the slop, we found plenty of opportunities to play and use our imaginations. We "tracked wolves," "caught fish," and "climbed buildings." It was awesome to meet some of Embry's amazing friends, After a mud-filled day, I am thinking it will be a nice, peaceful night.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Timberwolf Trail - Week 31 - 2017-18 Edition - Retzer Visit #6 - Spring has Sprung. . .sort of

Our friends from the Retzer Nature Center came to celebrate at Woodside one last time this year before we visit them the next two months. Today, we were planning on celebrating spring, but Mother Nature had something different in mind.

Despite snowstorms outside, we practiced our search for spring inside and kicked it off with a plant discussion, dissection, and dramatization.

After discussing, handling, and divvying up real and paper flower parts,

we learned the value of insects (mainly bees) and the need for insects in our world by practicing pollination.

Then, we reviewed the life cycle by meting some frogs and toad and discussing metamorphosis and the "double lives" of amphibians.

Of course, since we recently learned many bird calls, we felt compelled to repeat the process with frog and toad sounds. Practice makes perfect so we gave it a try with a variety of different calls before wrapping up the indoor portion of our day with a "frog chorus."

Then, it was time to head outside for signs of spring. At least that was the initial plan. Nature Kindergarten is all about flexibility so we searched for colors, shapes, and textures instead.

We found plenty of each and even had some time to play.  It's hard to believe there are less than two months left, especially with all the snow on the ground. Hopefully, in our next Retzer experience, well see some signs of spring and even more frogs and toads as we head to Retzer and visit the pond.