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