Ant Observation Sanctuary

041414_3723Yesterday on the side of the sledding hill, the children discovered some very small holes along a muddy patch.  After some careful observation, a few small black ants were spotted.  A discussion regarding the creation of the tiny mounds surrounding the holes raised many questions.  A few of the children thought that the dirt piles were sand that had been carried from the sandbox and placed by the holes as play areas for the ants.  Some suggested the grains of dirt were a food source.  One girl suggested that the ants had brought the small specs of dirt up from their tunnels using their legs and created the pile as they made bigger tunnels.

As our time outdoors drew to a close, we realized that the area might soon be overrun by larger children.  The Pre-K children were worried that the older students might not see the ant “homes” and accidentally step on them.  We called for suggestions to “save the ants.”  After some thought, a fence was designed and built using sticks and yarn.

Although the weather has dipped back to freezing today, we are hoping to revisit our Ant Observation Sanctuary soon.  Many of the children mentioned the ants in their planning journals this morning.  With luck and good weather, we’ll keep an eye on this little colony for the rest of the school year.

The Young Birdwatchers Club

Grab your clip boards! It’s time to stop talking about birds and go find some!  We spent one afternoon last week hiking along our nature trail in search of common, local birds.  On each board, the children had images of twelve birds they might see.

Now, imagine you are with a group of 15 four and five-year-olds who are honestly trying to creep quietly along the path.  The birds are chirping loudly all around.  Someone yells, “I think I hear a cardinal!”  Pandemonium ensues.

Although we never again  coaxed all 15 into quiet listening again, we did see many of the birds on our lists.  We even had to add the Mourning Dove since it wasn’t on the list originally.  The only unusual sighting was that of a “vulture”.  Though we tend not to have too many vultures here in Western PA, at least three children claimed to have seen one.  Mrs. Pless and I couldn’t verify the sighting, but we decided that at this stage, even birdwatching invisible birds was teaching them lessons in patience, observation, note taking, and natural wonder.


Growing and Changing

As many of you know, our classroom has been full of excitement since our Painted Lady caterpillars have arrived! The students watched anxiously as they grew in size each day, taking in each and every detail. One by one, they begun making their chrysalises and so began the waiting game.

The students knew what would happen next, but the anticipation seemed to grow with each day. Then, one magical morning, one butterfly had wiggled it’s way out of it’s cozy house to greet the day in it’s new magnificent form! The students watched in amazement as the butterfly walked around the house stretching and fluttering it’s new wings. It was not long before the other butterflies followed suit, giving us a total of five beautiful butterflies. In a few days, when the butterflies wings have had a chance to dry, we will release them into the wild where the life cycle may start again.

Another addition to our classroom has been twenty-five silkworms. While they arrived around the same time as our caterpillars, they were delivered in egg form (not much larger than a grain of salt) and took several weeks to hatch. After a great deal of waiting, several extremely tiny silkworms finally began to emerge! Since then, they have been happily hanging out in a cardboard bowl, eating their weight in Mulberry leaves. We love watching them grow and look forward to what new and exciting changes lie ahead.