Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Timberwolf Trail - Week 36 - 2015-16 Edition

One tired class
The thunderstorms stayed away long enough for my forest kindergartners to work on their service to the school project: our native Wisconsin prairie restoration. It was an excitingly exhausting day. With the warm temperatures and the manual labor, we stretched our brains and our bodies a great deal today.

Step one involved tarp replacement. We took our bright blue tarp and removed it so we could add a bigger, darker black tarp. We talked about wearing dark colors on hot days and how that would impact the plants beneath the tarp. The students knew the plants under the tarp would not get the things they needed to survive. This will allow next year's class a fresh layer of earth to plant new wildflower and prairie plant seeds and plants.

We took rocks and worked together as a team to remove the old tarp and put the new tarp down. We then placed two thermometers near our work site. One was near the tarp and one was a few inches away under the tarp. Students made predictions as to which would be warmer when we checked later in the day.

Almost done!

After a hard morning of work, we had to take a break for some snacks and discovery. I took the class to the shaded woods for some exploration time. We found many vines, arches, and plenty of garlic mustard. Of course, my environmentally-conscious crew took time out of their free discovery time to rid the woods of this invasive species. We also found bugs. . .lots of bugs. Daddy longlegs spiders were also an exciting find for many students.

We love vines.
Tree arch

Spider time!
After natural play time, lunch, and specials, it was back to work. The class voted on where we wanted our second tarp to go and it was a pretty lopsided victory for the bland land near the treeline adjacent to our oak tree classroom. Covered in mainly grazing grass, I found it a perfect place to start the restoration process.

It was a scorcher!
But first, we needed to check our thermometers. The class, who earlier predicted it would be warmer under the tarp, were correct. They likened this to being in bed. Is it warmer on top of the blankets or under them? Well, the thermometer in sunlight next to the tarp read 92 degrees. While this warmer than the actual air temperature of about 84 degrees, it was downright chilly compared to the thermometer under the tarp. The thermometer measured up to 120 degrees and the red measuring line was all the way to the top. the kids were amazed! This led to a quick discussion about absorption. The students also were interested in "testing" out the heat by touching the tarp and quickly placing their hand underneath.

Now that it was time to work on our second tarp, we raided the natural play area for sticks that we would use as temporary tarp holders. In assembly-line fashion, the class worked together to bring rocks and branches down to the tarp area. Once we stretched the tarp out and removed the "bubbles," we continued our team effort and placed branches and rocks along the edges.

It was also forest kindergarten interview day. Each child had the opportunity to talk to our two high school documentarians to give their views on outdoor learning. They got a little microphone and everything. I can't wait to see how the film ends up. 

I also can't believe there are only two more weeks of forest kindergarten remaining. It has been an absolutely amazing year with an incredible collection of learners.

Interviewed on the trail

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