Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Timberwolf Trail - Week 28 - 2016-17 Edition

Today, we kicked off our spring gardening sessions in our school garden. Today, we focused on weeding, in particular "de-dandelioning." Essentially, it was a Dandelion Destruction Day. Connecting our Social Studies unit on wants and needs, our Science studies of plant parts and life cycles, and our current Reading focus on cause and effect, we discussed the dandelions in the garden and ultimately decided we should try to get rid of them, especially the ones growing where seeds would eventually be planted.

After a quick training session on safe and responsible usage of the garden tools, it was off to digging up some dandelion destruction.

After collecting quite a large amount of dandelions, we went over to the empty field and saw firsthand how quickly these plants spread, considering this was all green just a few days ago.

We then ventured to the "jackpot spot", affectionately named after the area where I inadvertently yelled jackpot when finding a solid amount of garlic mustard. Now, as we work to eradicate our land of this invasive species, I can't help chuckle every time a kid yells jackpot when finding it.

One of our classroom jobs is the gardener. One of the responsibilities given to our gardener today was holding on to both the dandelion bag and the garlic mustard bag. He found a pretty clever weight to handle the bags as we collected quite a bit of both plants.

Of course, when searching for one thing, nature also allows us to find some unexpected treasures. Today, one of our scientists found a bunch of turkey vulture feathers and a skull. During our sharing time (a routine of our schedule), I was amazed at how the kids independently pieced together a very plausible explanation for this discovery.

One of the students asked the boy where he found the skull and feathers.When he showed them, they found a few more bones. These kids brought all these finds to our share session and the class came up with the fact that this skull must have been the raccoon that we found a few weeks back. At the beginning of the week, we noticed the body had been moved and clearly "messed with" as pieces were missing, including the skull.  This discovery was also coinciding with our first encounters with a flock of turkey vultures that spent the day flying from tree to tree and circling overhead. We followed them around and used our field guides to learn about them. One thing the children really connected to was that they feast on dead animals, or carrion.

It all was coming together, The class decided that the turkey vultures must have found the carcass, moved part of it to under the tree where the skull was found to protect it from other animals. Then they used their beaks to eat the meat and left the skull behind, along with some of their feathers.  is this what happened? Not sure. Could this have been the case? Sure. When I took a closer look at the skull, it certainly seemed like it was a raccoon. Even if it wasn't and this theory is proven wrong, the process the class went through to solve this was truly remarkable and cemented my reasoning for taking them outside.

After our share session, the drizzling rain came down a bit harder, forcing us inside. Once there, we used our dandelions to do a variety of things. After hearing the story Barney Bipple's Magic Dandelion, by Carol Chapman, we broke into groups. Half the class explored how they could write with dandelions. Brainstorming and trying a few different methods, they were asked to show me a sight word before free exploration.

The other half of the class used dandelions and strainers to create beautiful golden bouquets. Ten minutes later, they switched.

There are lots of other things we could do with these plants. Luckily for us, there is no shortage of them outside.

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