Thursday, January 7, 2016

Timberwolf Trail - Week 18 - 2015-16 Edition

Imagine 22 people putting on snowshoes. What if it was their first ever time on snowshoes? What if they were only 5 and 6 years old? Scary???  Maybe. Awesome???  Definitely! When applying for a grant for snowshoes for our school, some may have thought I was crazy. After just this first time out and about with the snowshoes, I think you're crazy if you don't.

Finding the perfect spot to freeze our ice ornaments

Before hitting the trail, we started our first of many weeks of ice experiments. The first step was making ice ornaments with water and food coloring. We placed our concoctions in the snow right outside our classroom so we could inspect them as they froze. When frozen, we hung them in the woods. In future weeks, we will repeat the process using different liquids. From there, we will discuss our observations abut each different ornament and hopefully figure out factors that impact the longevity of the ornaments (temperatures, interest from animals, etc.)

Snowshoe cart
After placing our ornaments in the snow, we wheeled our fresh out of the box snowshoes and cart out to one end of our trail and proceeded to take a long hike around the playground and school in search of tracks. We found kid tracks, car/bus tracks, and adult tracks. Then, as we headed to the other end of the trail, we reviewed the different types of tracks discussed in our beginning of the day indoor lesson.
On the prowl for tracks
Found some!
Found more!
We found lots of tracks. Most were deer, squirrel, and the dogs that walk through the trail, though coyotes and others are sure to visit when we aren't there. I was impressed that with just a few simple guiding questions, students were able to recognize how different tracks can tell us the size of the animal and if it was walking or running.
Trailblazing the freshly fallen snow
It was a science experiment type of day, so after heading off the trail, a field of untrampled snow awaited us. We first trekked it with just our boots before putting on the snowshoes and trying it again to notice the differences. However, just walking in the snowshoes wasn't enough.
Snowshoe time!

We relaxed in some snow forts, played snowshoe baseball, and practiced making letters with our new amazing and fun tools. 

Snack time
After taking a snack break, we noticed a haw swoop down. He appeared to catch something from the meadow. As we quietly (as quiet as a group of kindergartners approached), he flew off, essentially made a huge circle around the entire property and surrounding area and then flew directly back to the tree once we were a safer distance away.

Hawk up near the top with its own snack
He's back!

Before natural play time, we went on a stick hunt. Over the next few weeks, besides continuing our liquid ornament experiments, we will be creating stick-shaped bird feeders and planning and constructing a mouse house for the little critters that reside around the school.

Snow baseball

During play time, I was summoned over to a very excited group of girls who found fungi. The next morning, it was back outside to check and hang our ornaments. With the temperatures hovering right around freezing, out ornaments were very popsicle-like and after being placed on a tree of the child;s choice, it didn't take long before some melting began. It was rather pretty. With temperatures predicted to dip into single digits next week, I don't think we will have that same issue next time around.
Melting ice ornament make quite a beautiful picture
Hung ice ornaments

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