Our forest day was more of a forest afternoon. Our class enjoyed a wonderful performance by the wonderful Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra in the morning, so our outdoor time was a bit limited today. It was the perfect day to get jumpstarted on our service project.
Mother Nature has been very generous to us in our inaugural forest kindergarten year. We have had generally pleasant weather and ample opportunities to learn more about the land and how nature works. This experiential, place-based educational opportunity has transformed and continues to transform how I interact with nature and how I teach the children in my care. No matter how much I put into the process, I feel it always gives back even more.
With my class, we always talk about the importance of giving. One way I felt I could incorporate this concept while also providing unique and exciting learning opportunities is through service learning. Having access to an expert on prairie restoration in Wisconsin, I am fortunate enough to have some limited experience with the process, but more access to native seeds and important information. I feel it is my duty to impart some of this knowledge with the class while allowing them to use it to give back to our school and Mother Nature.
We kicked off this process by watching a short video on how a different school in Wisconsin worked on a similar project (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mzzG01WEPyc) We briefly have talked about one of our responsibilities is to learn from the land, but also help take care of the land so that other students can learn from it. What better way to do this than to help restore it with more native grasses and plants?
Of course, though this is a timely process, every little bit helps. We removed a tarp I placed on the land nearly ten months ago. We moved the tarp to the adjacent section and then used gardening tools to prepare some holes in the ground for seeds. Before heading out, I showed the class pictures of the native grass little bluestem and native flowers including the gray-headed coneflower and the blue aster.
We threw on some seeds I was able to acquire from a different restored last fall. After packing on some dirt and adding water, we are ready to play the waiting game, knowing full well restoring a prairie is a timely matter that requires patience and persistence.
Planting is hard work, so the class took some time to enjoy natural play before we headed back in and prepared for home.