Saturday, October 3, 2015

Timberwolf Trail - Week 5 - 2015-16 Edition

A blustery and bitter autumn introduction didn't chill the enthusiasm of the forest kindergartners. With a little extra layer of attire, we set out to enjoy another week of outdoor learning adventures.

With apples being at the core (ha) of our learning this week, we kicked off our day with an apple dissection and apple seed collection. The children were able to collect a large number of apple seeds that,once dried, will hopefully be used to start our own mini-orchard. We read some more information on apples and seeds using a variety of non-fiction texts before scouring the grounds for our own seeds. The children retrieved dandelion seeds, acorns, and even some walnuts.

Because the earlier portion of the week was wet and foggy, growing conditions for fungi was ideal, allowing us to have an impromptu fungus find as we walked along the trail. We also enjoyed the brand new Leopold benches built and donated to our outdoor classroom by my father-in-law.

Pizza anyone?

We zoomed in on sit spots in writing. A sit spot is meant to be a special place for each child that they will visit on a weekly basis to record observations in their nature journals. Ideally, as the seasons change, the differences will be dramatic and eye-opening to these young scientists.

Using a preferred natural item, sticks, we went on a  stick shape parade and used sticks of various sizes to create a shape museum. We had many squares and rectangles, triangles, ovals, a trapezoid, a few diamonds, and even a hexagon.

Given the motivating boys against girls challenge of creating a circle, the kids were initially befuddled. As a teacher, it was tough to sit back and not offer suggestions, but the payoff was worth the wait. The boys had "many cooks in the kitchen," which led to a lot of confusion and many egg-like shape attempts. The girls used a more strategic method. Besides breaking sticks into smaller pieces to make them more used-friendly in the curves needed for a circle, they figured out they could form a circle by sitting down as a group and using their sticks to lay in front of them. Sometimes, imitation is the highest form of flattery, so I wasn't too shocked when I saw some of the boys viewing and "sharing" this idea with their peers. In the end, we had two very nice stick circles which we ended up using to create a Venn diagram. With this tool, we went on an acorn hunt and sorted our acorns by nut alone, nut and hat, or hat alone. can you tell which category had the most?
It took a while, but we figured it out.
Stick Venn diagram pre-acorn
Stick Venn diagram post-acorn

With a wonderful family donating deer corn and soybean stalks to attract the deer that have been seemingly scared away by the impressively loud and booming construction site to our direct south, I challenged teach student to husk their corn and find the perfect place that we could check on for our daily hikes the rest of the week. After finding that spot, we went back over the next few days, checked the status of the corn, and allowed the kids to move their corn if they wanted. We noticed a few things. The corn on the ground was basically untouched. The corn placed in bushes and low-lying tree branches was eaten. The conclusion: the hustle and bustle of the school and construction site was too loud for the deer but fine for the plethora of chipmunks and squirrels we see.  We talked about how maybe a weekend of no school and minimal construction noise might lead to more devoured corn come Monday.
Husk that corn!

Hiding corn might have been the kids favorite part

A classroom of "uni-corns"

I guess we will have to see on Monday. Personally, I can't wait!

P.S. -  As soon as I figure out how to post Flip camera videos, you will see our forest kindergarten in action.

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