Sunday, March 17, 2019
Spring is only a week away but that didn't stop the ice from making the first Tyke Hike of 2019 a slippery adventure. Essentially, it was a mixture of hiking and ice skating for the 44 hikers.
Departing from the Evergreen Shelter at Lapham Peak, we headed to the trail by using some newly constructed puncheon provided by some amazing Ice Age Trail volunteers from my home chapter, the Waukesha/Milwaukee County Chapter.
The traditional stomp at the mini-tower overlooking the pond was a huge hit.
An even more huge hit was the wonderful views and amazing tree uncovered by recent volunteer work. The whole trail is very fortunate to have such a dedicated and talented set of volunteers who work tirelessly to improve the trail.
With the hike's theme being a green party, we searched for green along the way. We found lichen, moss, garlic mustard, and some leaves. I also had a few green-themed prizes for hikers who were able to answer questions about blazes, evergreen trees, and the trail in general.
With a few stops for exploration and natural play, the hike was certainly a preview of an amazing year of nature ahead.
Friday, March 15, 2019
The winter thaw began so it was a wet week of nature kindergarten.
At the beginning of the week, the snow melted away to reveal the blanket of ice below.
The melting ice and snow did provide some beauty. The class loved the sparkling crystals they saw on the snowy surface and glistening in the trees.
At the week's end, nearly all the snow had melted away, providing puddle fun and a raging river of thaw. Because the river is only a temporary one and this is the only water feature our outdoor classroom really has, we needed to investigate.
We started at one end of the school and followed the river wherever it went.
The class enjoyed seeing the path the water took, watching the washed away dirt form a beautiful design, and even dipping their fingers in the ice cold water on the nearly sixty degree day.
They were especially intrigued by seeing how the river melted a path under and through the once towering snow pile, before running into the rubber foundation of the playground and making an abrupt turn around the playground and into the field towards the road.
Of course, as we explored the wet earth and the "recess river," the skies opened up and doused us with some more water as the kids enjoyed their very own rain dance.
Our week also had another visit form one of our favorite naturalists who shared the wonderful world of frogs with us.
Friday, March 8, 2019
While the snow is still blanketing the ground, signs of spring started to show up this week. Tough winter chills tried to keep us down and out during the earlier portion of the week, we managed to squeeze in some exploration and play time.
The most blustery blizzards can't keep the smiles away from nature kindergarten.
Climbing trees can be lots of fun, but "sticky." With a little help form his friends, this student got untangled from the tree.
We hiked and searched for signs of spring. We also searched for the bagel birdfeeders we placed earlier. The animals found them before us. :)
Warmer temperatures made winter feel like summer so we took advantage and did some math outside using colored water. We created number sentences and then "free drew."
Now this last picture may not be the greatest but it got us all ready for spring. It was literally taken on our few steps before heading in for the week but what we observed was the sign of spring we had been searching for all week. On opposite ends of the picture are a pair of crows. We watched them communicate with each other by cawing back and forth. As we inched closer, we took notice of how their behaviors changed.
It offered a perfect opportunity to connect to what we have been studying about birds and offered a great preview of our upcoming birding session as we prepare for our participation in the 2019 Great Wisconsin Birdathon.
C'mon Spring. . .we are ready for you!
Saturday, March 2, 2019
Winter seems like it wants to stick around for a while regardless of what that Groundhog had to say a month ago. Either way, we did a little bit of spring cleaning to help prepare for the warmer weather.
We took a close look at many of the bird boxes around the trail and cleaned them out. It was very interesting to see the diversity and ingenuity of the birds. We found nests with sticks, grass, leaves, and assorted trash.
We also took a closer look at the insect hotels my class made last year and started discussing how we will improve them in a few weeks.
Of course, we played too.
No sled necessary
The class also took an opportunity to make a music video to help support the trail camera program we are part of: Snapshot Wisconsin. We love looking at the pictures the camera captures and encourage other places to get their own camera an take a closer look at the friends that share our world.