Archives for the month of: March, 2014

ImageSummer 2013


Yes, those beautiful flowers and helpful bugs are still in a state of stillness, but in preparation of things to come I thought it would be fun to utilize the skeletons of summer and spring past.



So our troops of Kindergartners and 1st through 3rd graders bundled up and went hunting for the remnants of milkweed, evening primrose, bee balm, goldenrod, purple cone flowers.  It was a great opportunity to take a look at the idea of how strong mother nature made these plants so that they can flick about in the wind and disperse their seeds.


It was awesome to see the kids sharing what they picked.  Our goal was not only to find our own but make a wildflower sculpture to take home.

The older kids and I went deep into the jungle of the field.  Letting them lead the way they hunted and found many interesting things.

I couldn’t help myself and let out a lot of wooops while we were walking.  It was very cold and windy but it just felt so good to let out the screams of joy….. although at one point one of the boys told me I ” didn’t need to do that anymore!”  Haha… what can I say I was just so excited….

Both Jack and Rylie found praying mantis egg cases!!!  We added them to the 200 cases that the teenagers from S.T.A.T.E. found over the weekend  Pretty cool treasure to find.

More than anything these kids are developing a confidence to lead and also to work together as a group. Something I believe is a result of playing outside.  They have to take chances  in an environment which they might not be used to. In the end  they realize  can do it!





After we hunted for a while we returned to the barn to make these!!!

Ta da!!!

They all left with pictures of what these flowers will look like when they bloom this year and a magnificent sculpture created by them!


Love the rosy cheeks and also how one of the sculptures has a milkweed with seeds still intact. (like a cradle)  Another lucky find.

Until next week…… GET OUTSIDE!!!  Seriously

Peace and warmth, Sue




…… and of course they will climb it!  

Today the 4-6th grade group was ready for adventure. My plan was to take them “off trail” to show them where the deer bed down at night. They all agreed they were ready for the journey.  

We wandered through the yellow, blue and white trails  getting closer to our point of going “off” but it was interrupted by this gigantic tree which had fallen in the woods, “Can we climb it?” they asked.  I would never say no to that question.  So they set off on their adventure and thank goodness there were no parents there because I could hear their voices in my head, “ooh be careful, no don’t go there…..etc. ”  but I let them be (of course hoping that no one would get hurt – I really am a responsible adult!!!)  They climbed and climbed and climbed!

It was amazing to see  them take chances and succeed.  I could see them smile big time as they gave me a high five for completing the climb.  It was a lovely sight…. monkey in a tree!  Doing what these kids should be doing.  Ahhhhh what a relief for all of them.  

Here are my monkeys:



So we scrapped the “off trail” deer idea and spent the whole time on this tree.  Time passed quickly and it was time to return but it was not as easy as it should have been because many of the kids decided they wanted to take these huge broken branches back with them.  Ok, I thought if they want to carry these things why not, we can use them in the garden or some other project (one girl wanted to build a fort).  They carried them all the way back!  I was so impressed with them… it took a little longer but we made it!!!

They were like the Native Americans of yesteryear….  or the settlers dragging wood for their fires….  


It was a great day in the woods.  🙂

Get those kids outside!





 Today’s classes = A full heart.  

3, 4 and 5 year olds are so amazing and sharing my time with them and their parents makes my sun shine. 

We began our day with an “Eye Spy” book where the kids helped to identify animals by seeing their eyes and color.  It was great to see all of them so engaged and full of answers.  Each time they met with success they wanted more and more.  Most of the time I become so rapt with them that nothing else going on in my life matters.  A breath of fresh air!!




Drumming was something I decided to introduce to the kids this season.  I’ve always felt drumming is such a great outlet for kids and adults alike.  When I introduced the drum to them a few weeks ago you could see the kids were dying to get their hands on it!  I’ve also incorporated these homemade bamboo rhythm sticks,  so the kids can play along when they are not having their turn up at the drum.  This week we worked on slow and fast drumming.  I think almost every kid came up to drum and when it was time for the moms to do it we had three brave moms volunteer . Best part of that was seeing how proud the kids were of their moms.  Lots of loving hugs for them.  Ahhhh so wonderful!  My hope is to get all the kids drumming by the end of our eight classes together!

 It’s all part of my philosophy of, “its’ okay to be loud, get dirty and be less fearful.”  (that goes for parents too!!)






Their seasonal trees were completed today.  The first week they printed their trees with styrofoam and paint. This week they finished with cotton for the snow and oil pastels for leaves and blossoms.  Just lovely!!  Every piece is unique…. just like these kids 🙂


A yes we finally got outside!  Still a bit chilly but the air was so fresh.  We began by bird watching all the Robin Red Breasts eating the Staghorn Sumac.   Don’t worry moms, it is not poison sumac …. they have white berries.  We were able to to see the birds up close and also examine what it was they were eating.  Yum yum…

Eye spy the Robins…..


Onward  we hiked with the kids making sure we waited up for everyone!  So funny.  Always a blast on the trails.  

Great to see them climb and explore.ImageImageImageImageImage

Oh so many images to share but I’ll stop now…

Great kids, great parents and a fantastic day at Avalon!!

Get those kids outside

peace,   Miss Aunt Sue (as Lola calls me!)  




Wow! One day you have no coats the next day you are dressing in warm coats and rain ponchos!!!  But that didn’t stop this group of First, Second and Third Graders!!!!  They are a super group with an amazing amount of experience in the outdoors.  As we sat at the table doing our twig/bud paintings I was thrilled to hear about all the adventures they’ve had with their families!!!!   Great job parents!!

They were also extremely knowledgeable about animal facts.  Hannah made sure that we all knew that possums do not hang by their tails to sleep.  Owen and Riley were thrilled to share info about the gila monster.  Love the enthusiasm.

As we worked on our projects you could hear the rain pounding on the metal roof of the barn.  What a wonderfully inviting sound.

When it was time to hike the kids were all willing to head out into the rain.  One of my favorite things to do!

Here they are ready to go…. they really were excited to get out….  perhaps the picture doesn’t reflect it.  🙂

Image  BRRRRRRRR!  But still no complaints!!

We explored the Staghorn Summac trees which kind of reminded us of Dr. Suess and we climbed the rocks by the Tulip Trees,  and wandered on the muddy path back to the barn.  These kids are tough even as the rain pummeled them.    LOVE IT!!!     I must say I am very encouraged to be with this group of future environmentalists…..  I think I need to step up my game because one the boys told me he already knew everything I talked to them about.  Oh Miss Sue… get with it!   Happy hiking 🙂


What a perfect day to begin Seedlings first all Kindergarten class!  You might  see snow on the ground in the pictures but these kids were treated to a simply lovely day with temperatures that warranted no winter coat…. heavenly!!!!!!!!


This Spring I decided to try something new with the kids.  It’s kind of reminiscent of tour guides in NYC, but I think it just might work!  I want to teach them about staying together as a group and how that is important when hiking.   With two flags, that I made with felt and a dowel (thanks to my husband for cutting them so precisely), one labeled with “L” for leader and “S” for sweep ( a term we used when riding with the bike club for the person who makes sure no one is left behind)  Each time we meet I will look for great listeners and select a leader and a sweep.  (obviously every kid will get a turn over the course of classes) .

My goal is to get them used to working together, not an easy thing for eager kindergartners out on the trail.  BUT, I must say this group rose to the occasion and they really went along with the whole idea.  I was so impressed.  It also enabled us to stop and explore together instead of me worrying about someone running up ahead without the group. I’l keep you updated ………


Exploring, we found some bird nest remnants and a dog foot print…  

Okay Imageso 




Back a the barn awaited their beautifully painted twig and bud creations.  That was the topic for today …. all the life that is getting ready to burst open when the warmth graces Avalon consistently.  We all can’t wait!






Today’s fun thing to do is:  Go into your yard and look at the buds on trees with your kids.  If possible touch them and talk about what is going to happen.  Choose one  tree that you will follow for a whole year and take a picture of it.   Each time it changes take another picture.  Do it for a year… it’s  a fun way to  teach observation and also makes a nice framed collage for next year!  

Keep on hiking families.





Well here we are again with some new faces; we’ve added Kathryn and Celeste to our group.  Welcome girls!

When released into the outdoors these kids go crazy!!!  With a capital Z!   It’s been a long winter and being cooped up in the house with little exposure to the sun, they managed to store up lots of  energy.

We began class by talking about Wilson Bentley, a gentleman known as Mr. Snowflake.  He was one of the first people to photograph snowflakes.     Mr. Bentley was repeatedly told he was crazy to do what he was doing, but he did not give up. He was passionate about his snowflakes.  In the end all of his hard work was acknowledged and  published in a book entitled  “Snowflakes in Photographs.”  It shows page after page of the snowflakes he photographed.  Pretty impressive, especially for the early 1900’s!

Here is a page from his book.images

When I asked who inspires them Shannon talked about her Uncle who is an artist.  She said it made her want to do art.  Kathryn said she was inspired by Lindsay Von, a famous skier.  She said she skis all the time.  I was so proud to these girls that they were able to identify what an inspiration is and even more impressed that they had people they looked up to!  Way to go!

The outdoor session of our class was a great opportunity to look for animal tracks and make some tracks of our own.  We were able to find deer, squirrel and bunny tracks.  They spotted field mice and a rabbit.   Image

Just being silly on the trail!


It looks like a marshmallow but it is actually a praying mantis egg case


Chris looking for animal tracks.

It’s wonderful to see these kids so full of life and energy (sometimes too much … hahaha) going thru the fields finding their way.  I believe each of them take home their own person memory of the time we spent out in the fields.  Looking forward to making more memories!

Get outside!



YIPEEEE! Our first class of the Spring season. Ha!  After talking about the seasonal cycle of the trees and our printing project we bundled up and headed outdoors.  Not sure but I think the temperature hovered around a bitter 20 degree.  But there were trails we needed to crunch on and piles of snow to climb! 

They were troopers, these little 3-5 year olds.  With their spirits alive and on fire they ran down the trails in their snow suits.  It made me laugh to see such energy while some of the parents were trying to deal with the frosty temps surrounding their bodies.  

How wonderful to spend time outside breathing in the winter air.  Yes, it is a bit cold but the experience for most of the kids was exhilarating.  Some stayed close the their moms and dads, perhaps for extra warmth and support.  

 As parents it is sometimes easier to keep the kids indoors during these cold winter months, but the fresh air and exercise can only help your child.  Even if it is only for 20 minutes, they can crunch in the snow or just walk around in footsteps.  It creates great memories for them to write about when they are older!!   So sweet.   Also a great reason to have hot chocolate with marshmallows!

Here are some of our champion hikers!! 


Climbing the mountain!

ImageImageImageLove that hat!ImageDeer tracks!!!






Batman Benjamin exploring!

It was a great day and we look forward to more hikes as the weather warms and the leaves begin to unfurl.

Get outside!