Curiosity Breeds More Questions

One of our morning classes was canceled today, leaving us with an opportunity to head outside and enjoy the lovely fall weather. We took a short hike over to The Bear Track Trail, located on the back side of our playground. This was our first excursion to this section of our school grounds.

While exploring, odd spherical shapes fell from above, clunking along the ground. There was some discussion about whether these were coconuts or walnuts. Either way, everyone wanted to know what might be inside. Many experiments were attempted. They were thrown, stomped on, bounced, and even squeezed. One sure-fire way was eventually found.

So now that we had them open, what were we to think of the squiggly mess we found inside? More and more curious we became. Squeamish my students are not. They quickly began picking the “worms” off of the seeds to examine them. The children spent the better part of twenty minutes inspecting these new finds. Many theories came forward.

Who made these? (part 2)

On the path of the great vehicle mystery, we encountered even more tracks. Some, we identified quickly as deer.

Others we weren’t quite sure of.

We are going to investigate these prints further in the following weeks.

One child remarked, “Wow! This animal must have a lot of legs to have so many different foot prints!”

Who made these?

We found some very strange tracks in the field this week. We wondered if they came from a tractor. We decided to follow them, looking for more clues.

Oddly enough, they split off into two different directions . The young detectives felt the path on the left held the most promise.

At the top of the hill we found a faculty parking lot. At first the children suspected a small compact. However they realized it was much too clean looking. Then someone noticed the wheel wells on this truck. A clue! Could this be the culprit?

It looks like the tires are a match! We found our answer. Now we just have to figure out why it was driving around in the grass.

In a later post we’ll show you some of the other tracks we found while following these man made ones.

What’s living out here?

While looking for signs of life in the woods on this unusually warm (60 degrees F) January day, our Pre-Kindergarten children found a little colony of beetles.

They were worried about putting the rock back over them because it might kill them. This is the response from the child who suggested we return their roof.

Gaga: it’s what’s up outside

On Monday we found something new on the playground.

For anyone that hasn’t seen one of these yet, it’s called a Gaga Ball Pit. Think less traumatic dodge-ball. While the older children are working with Mr. Cooper to create a set of school-wide rules, Miss Davis taught our class a simplified version. All players start on the edges of the court while one person tosses the ball into the middle. At that point, all of the players begin running around either avoiding the ball or trying to push it with their hands. If the ball hits you between your knees and feet, you are out and climb out to cheer on the other players. What makes this much more relaxed than traditional dodgeball is that the children are not allowed to throw the ball. They have to swat it toward other players. If the ball flies out of the court, the last person to have touched it is out. Although the big kids may eventually design more rules and procedures, this version is just fine for our five-year-olds. The playing field is more level for beginners than any of the ball grass games we’ve played and game time is fast. It’s also a great way to encourage the children to pump up those heart rates and get a little cardio in.

Corn on the Cob

Now that Applefest has wrapped up, we are finding lots of treasures left behind on the playground.  Yesterday morning, the children discovered a few dried corn cobs that had fallen off of the decoration stalks.  The cobs moved to the outdoor Maker Space where a makeshift factory was set up.  Small fingers patiently and diligently removed every kernel.P1270130P1270131P1270136

This activity continued in the afternoon.  Sadly, we discovered that our original corn collection had been accidentally misplaced by the older students.  (Chalk it up to practicing perseverance.)  No worries! We found more ears of corn to work with and many more classmates joined in on the project.  In addition to the kernel factory, an airplane was built nearby where corn kernels could be delivered via leaf plates for hungry passengers.

As we worked, a few of the children came up with a plan for the corn.  One child wanted to know if we could cook it.  Hmm….we’ll see how that experiment works a  bit later. (Don’t worry, we don’t plan to eat it.)

Rainy Day Discoveries

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Noticing the insect trails in this well chewed stump.

Yesterday we experienced many firsts.  Foremost was the weather.  While we expected the rain in the afternoon, we were caught off guard by the on-again-off-again torrential downpour from 8:30 until around 10:30.  Some of us had raincoats, most of us had boots, and none of us melted.  All of us had fun regardless of the persistent precipitation.

In addition, our City Campus Pre-Kindergarten class came out to join us for Forest 4s.  All together, we had 29 four and five year-olds exploring the wet and drippy woods.  Before heading out, our North Hills Campus students made plans for introducing our new friends to the fort, squirrels, sticks, moss and snails.

The weather provided us with added observation opportunities.  The extremely damp conditions encouraged previously hidden wildlife to cross our paths, sometimes quite literally.

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This little creature, a Northern Spring Peeper, was spotted by one of the children as it climbed slowly up a tree.  We had enough time for all of the interested children to stop by and marvel at it’s agile upward movement.

While hiking with Mr. Cooper, this lovely Eastern Box Turtle was spotted by one of our visiting Pre-K students.  It was simply ambling along the trail.

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(I personally thought this one was quite exciting.  I haven’t seen a wild box turtle since I was little.)

Adventures in Nature

This week, our class got a little too close the pond than our protective Daddy Goose would have liked and he quickly let us know to find another way around with a perfectly-timed hiss or two. The students handled it well and slowly backed away to give the goose some extra space. Once we were a safe distance away, I explained that the geese have recently laid eggs on the island in the pond and are now very protective of their home and their growing babies. I continued by saying that the geese don’t know that we won’t hurt their babies and sometimes they get upset when we get too close to the pond. Then, one of our youngest students looked at me as said,

“Yeah and the goose probably doesn’t know that this is Winchester Thurston and we ‘think also of the comforts and the rights of others’ so we would never hurt their babies.”

Proof that caring for others and nature go hand in hand!

 

Rainy Day Discovery

This morning’s weather proved to be little finicky as it rained on and off for over an hour but that didn’t deter our youngest explorers. We prepared ourselves with boots and raincoats and then embarked on the great outdoors to enjoy the unseasonably warm day. It wasn’t long before a student noticed a small worm making his way up the side of boulder. We theorized about how he was able to hang on to the rock without any arms or legs. We studied how his body would shrink and then stretch as he so effortlessly moved across the rock once he reached the top. Then, before we knew it, there were two worms crawling across the rock. One student proclaimed that there were so many worms out because it was raining and worms love water. The students took turns gently touching the worm and then squealing with joy. It always amazes me what wonderment can be found on what might seem like a dreary day.

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow

It was a blustery, wintry, picture perfect Forest Fours day today! Not only was there enough snow to finally go sled riding, but it was also great packing snow. We had giant snow balls and snow-people galore and many discussion about where the fairies go for the winter. We couldn’t have asked for a more perfect morning. I think it’s safe to say that our little snow bunnies quite thoroughly enjoyed themselves.

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