Archives for posts with tag: inspiration

Well it’s that time of the year again.  We’ve had over 64 classes total with all the age levels and we managed to strengthen our love and respect for nature.

I am grateful for ALL of these children and families that come to Avalon to share in the joy of nature.   As I look back at all the photos I’ve taken this past season I smile.  I think of all the littles guys  who held my hands as we hiked.   I think back to the lessons my older kids learned from other naturalists, such as Len who talked to them about why and how he raises pheasants and bobwhite quail on the grounds of Avalon. I think about the night hikes which were always met with excitement All of it was so  inspiring to them and it  confirms that I am in the right place in my life doing just what I want to be doing.

My overall goal with these classes has and will continue to be getting kids OUTSIDE.  I cannot express how important this is for the future of our lives here on this planet.  These children will always have these memories of frogs, trees, hiking  in their hearts, so hopefully they will own it and protect it as they grow into young adults and one day, parents (yikes!).

Not only that, it is so fantabulous and  healthy to spend time in the outdoors rather then cooped up in a classroom or watching TV.

So to celebrate,  our last class is always about roasting that cube made of sugar, the marshmallow!!!  Luckily we have a great fire pit at the barn!!  Also, Chris once again brought in his hot dogs to roast.  How fun and yummy!!!

Here are some crazy photos.  Enjoy and we’ll see you on the other side in March.  Peace out….. Miss Sue

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A great horned owl that’s who!  We went out the other night with the Kindergarten Natural Patterns class and we were lucky enough to hear both the great horned owl and a screech owl.  Sometimes it is hard for the kids to stand still and just listen, especially at this age.  But when you get to hear the owl it is such an amazing treat.  I love being with these kids in the dark.  There were 5 kids and two moms as the sweep.  (Thanks Coleen and Stephanie!!)  But at one time during the hike I actually had 5 kids attached to me.  Two on my right hand with their fingers in my hand and two on the left doing the same and one holding on to the back of my jacket… so fun!!!

I talked to the kids about the dark and how basically everything is exactly the same as when the lights are on.  It is a challenge to try to take the “fearful thoughts” out of the darkness.  Our vision is challenged… but our other senses can become acutely aware to all that is around us.  Then when you mix in the imagination… wow!  Everything gets blown out of proportion!!!   But there were no monsters or beasts out there!!!   So proud of my night hikers.

 

 

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Take your kids out into the night… even if it just in your backyard… listen, smell and embrace the darkness… it will serve them well!!!

Get outside!!!!!

Cut an paste this link to hear the great horned owl!!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wsTKkLxtGx4

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Well we might not have the anything close to the Himalayas here on Long Island but somehow kids always find something to climb.

Part of my Inspirations class of 4th -6th graders is to show them how inspired people choose different life paths than the norm.   There is more than just going to the mall, watching tv, video games, or social media out there and that a person can make a difference.

Today’s topic was about climbing Mount Everest.  An amazing feat that must be respected.  From all my readings about this amazing place, I have developed the utmost respect for the men, women or children who choses to put themselves basically through hell to get to the top of the earth.  It is inspiring and daunting.  I know that personally I do not have a climb of that magnitude within me, but I can live vicariously through all the stories of the people who have summited or attempted to summit this monster of a mountain.

Basically all of the kids knew what the tallest mountain in the world was, less knew where it was and even fewer knew how tall it is.  But that is okay because the information is out there if they are interested.  I chose to show them a video on You-Tube , “Mount Everest, The Whole Journey”  While Rob does not summit and plans to go just above base camp 3 he certainly gives the kids a great impression of what climbing Everest is like.   I think they were amazed and surprised by what he had to go through.  It’s worth a watch.

Here is the link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2_ybcAWTLeE

For our hike I let the kids decide where we would go.  Teaching them that they MUST stop at every intersection and wait for the whole group.  Safety first.  Some kids are fast and have to get there first, others are strollers who like to look around and chat.  I must say the strollers do find the coolest stuff… like Grace who likes to find mushrooms and Finn who was able to find the bright red berries of the  jack in the pulpit flower.  It opens so many pathways for thought… are these things edible? do the animals eat them?  There is also the time to take a look under the logs for insects.  Although they were sparse this time Kenzie managed to find a millipede.

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Good stuff.  These kids love, love, love being in the woods… that means sooooo much.

Get those kids outside!!!!

ps:  I recommended the series of books by Gordon Korman:  Everest Series #1  “The Contest”   Everest Series #2 “The Climb” & Everest Series #3 “The Summit”    good read for kids!!!

 

Hi all!  Another great day with the Natural Patterns group of  1st – 3rd graders.  We talked about Earth Manners.  What is that you say?  Well the kids generated the following list after I read the story,  “Just a Dream” by Chris Van Allsburg.  About a boy who does not really care about the environment,  throws trash on the ground, doesn’t recycle and is just plain self involved.  It was a long story but this gang of kids were mesmerized by the boy’s adventure into dreamland…  not such a great dream of the future.  It’s worth a read and discussion.

So here is there list, written with the help of Emma:

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I have to say I was very impressed.  Prior to the reading of the book each child prepared a leaf cutout by coloring their own design on it.   They attached strings to the leaves which will be tied to the  sticks they  collected . (Stay tuned for finished project in two weeks)

Today our hike was centered on finding one stick each for their earth manners piece.  Let’s just say it wasn’t easy to choose just one!!  We chatted about staying on the trail until we got to a great stick place where there was no poison ivy around.  The selection began.  It was fun to watch them wandering about trying to find a stick that was just right for their own project.  When it was time to head back I noticed that Emma and Rylie chose to take along a second large stick… actually it was a branch!!!  It was so funny watching them lug this with the intention of using it as our “class branch” (have to give Indigo the credit for naming it!) I love  when the kids bond together and make something for the “class.”  It means they are thinking of the group as a whole and are motivated to do something for their group.

It all comes from within them ~

 

Here they are with the “class stick”

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Next class we will put the project all together, by painting the sticks from which we will  hang our leaves and manners.

I smile when I think of them.. eager kids just wanting to have fun.  It should be this way for all kids, at least for some of their day.. 🙂

Get them outside….  please

Peace

Day two of darkness hiking at Avalon!  We set out with our flashlights into the night… really it was only 5:00 when we started.  Once again the moon lit the sky … the rainbow rings surrounding it.

Sophia told me that she heard a story that all the snakes will come alive when the moon has that circle around it……  no snakes on this walk!

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As we set out, with flashlights at the ready, we crossed the road as usual and headed into the woods.  It is amazing how dark it gets with just a few lights to lead the way.

Tonight I had two experiments in my pocket.  Simple as can be but fun.

I talked about our vision and our pupils and how in the dark we are basically color blind.  We turned out our lights and I took out two markers (pink and green).

I drew a line of each color on their hands and asked them to guess what color they were.  Most were close with their guess…. I had blues, reds, greens…..  The truth would be revealed when we went back to the barn.

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The second experiment involved the good ole winter green lifesavers!  We sat on the leaves in a circle and crunched on these rings watching sparks pop in our mouths!  It certainly was a lot of laughs.

I think it was the first time any of them had done it!!!  Chemistry come to life!

Best part of the evening for me is when they all starting singing Bob Marley’s “Three Little Birds”….. Don’t worry about a thing…. cause everything’s gonna be alright.

Those were the only words they knew and they sang it again and again…..   I think it was soothing to them as we were on our 35th minute of the hike!

Love these kids!!!!

Here’s the music if you want to play it at home   http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4uPZbIezChI

After Erik put away all his equipment, with the help of the kids, they were treated to a short ride in the bucket of his truck.  I know many of them wanted to go the full 60 feet in the air but they had to settle for the 7 feet up approach with Erick at the controls.  I would think that most of them never did this before so it was a thrill none the less!!!  The whole day was a great success and I feel like the kids will look at people who cut down trees and take care of them with a new view.  Not sure how I could ever top the bucket truck ride!

IMG_1531IMG_1530IMG_1526IMG_1523IMG_1519After everyone got their ride Erik decided it was time to put Miss Sue in the bucket….  of course I was willing… of course he decided to put me all the way up – 60 feet!!!  It was the most spectacular view of Avalon!  Sophia took a video of me (which I won’t share with all of you)  and you could hear one of the kids in the background say, “You can touch the clouds!”  It almost seemed that way!   Thanks again to Erik and Buzz for coming to Avalon to share your love of what you do!!!

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I am lucky enough to have a friend who is an arborist and is enthusiastic about his job after doing it for 20 years.  I told the kids that we would have a surpirse visitor this week and we did!   I like the idea of exposing kids to different jobs that people do related to nature.  As a kid growing up I never knew about the wonderful world of hiking and camping,  It wasn’t til I was old enough to go out on my own and discover it!!!   Lucky kids!  

Erik pulled up in his amazing bucket truck  with all his gear and his dog Buzz ready to talk to the kids about what he does and the tools he uses.Image

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Erik shows them his chainsaw and explains that he attaches it to his belt and climbs the tree with it.  He gave the kids an opportunity to feel the weight of the saw.

After he explained all his tools it was time to put on the belt and climb some trees!!!   The kids were so excited to test it out!     Everyone was successful and of course wanted to do it again!  But we had to move on…..  Bucket truck next……..    Thanks Erik!!!

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Today was a glorious day for taking a look at some of our trees at Avalon.  Most notably the Black Walnut and the Hickory Tree!

Both produce these interesting multilayered nuts. But most of all they are exciting to SMASH open.  That’s exactly what we did.  Each of my enthusiatic outdoor-kids were ready to take a turn breaking open these nuts.  How do those squirrels do it????

We tasted the black walnut which Shannon said had a strawberry flavor in it!!  They were yummy.   These odd looking nuts are hidden undercover on the trees inside these lime colored looking fruits.  When they are ready, they drop to the ground and proceed to rot and turn black.  Before you can get to the nutty insides you have to peel away a messy dirty layer…..  yuck…  then there is the treasure!

But first how do we get to the inside.  Well luckily Miss Sue did some research beforehand and she brought the wrench for holding the nut (also to protect her hands from getting smashed) and a hammer.   Before long they were cracked open!   Everyone was eager to try it.

We were less successful with the hickory nuts, of which are all over the place but dried out inside… what a disappointment. But lot’s of fun to collect!

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We continued our walk along the wildflower fields which are slowly turning brown… with seeds all ready to fall to the ground for next year’s blooms.  The milkweed plants are in their glory with all of their pods popping open to reveal the amazing layers of seeds attached to little “wish” machines which will help the seeds float away to their new homes!

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Amazing milkweed, amazing smile!

Happy Trails

Sue

 

 

 

ImageTHE END RESULT OF A GREAT WEEK OF EXPLORING!  CAMPERS WHO WERE FULL OF SILLINESS AND RASPBERRIES.

This week we had Emily, Emily, Michael, Lukas and Lorenzo to help with our energetic group of campers.  Couldn’t have done without you guys leading the pack and bringing up the tail of the hikers.

It was slow going on the trail because the campers were distracted by all the yummy wild raspberries growing.  Eating and walking, eating and walking…. always another bush around the corner.  I think they were all fascinated by the free food!  I was impressed with their willingness to sample them.    One of the campers even went back and collected more with his mom and  incorporated them into his healthy yogurt snack the next day….  kudos to that mom!!

We took an extra long hike along the yellow trail in search of the elusive fairy house of Avalon.  When we finally got there we realized it was destroyed.  Yikes!  Who or what could have done this?  I will go with a heavy rain that washed it away instead of blaming someone.  But because they are great campers who care, they got to work and fixed it up!!

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Inspired by the creation in the woods the campers created their own back at the barn… after collecting materials on the trail. Here are some of the amazing outcomes!!!!!

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 Pond Exploration a team favorite!!!:   This week we were able to capture a frog, tadpoles, dragonfly nymphs, water striders, water beetles. Lots of laughs and screeches of excitement when something was caught. I’m sure the parents appreciated  that we told the campers it was important to release everything we captured! They would have brought all the creatures home if we allowed it!

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As adults it is our responsibility to teach all of the children respect for all things natural.  It is not always about teaching scientific facts (which is important) but more about teaching the little humans how to carry on the love of the outdoors into their future lives which will have a real impact on our future as a people and a planet!!

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Peaceful travels along the trail…..

Sue

Spring is teaming with life and we were lucky enough to be out in the woods of Avalon yesterday!  So many things to explore, admire and look at closely.  Fascinating teeny tiny inch worms, onion grass, mushrooms  and of course the pond.  Nestled among the trees there is this special pond which is home to all sorts of unfurling ferns, Jack in the Pulpit flowers, grasses, trickling water, frogs and ……  da da daaaaaa  a large snapping turtle.

Lovely pictures taken by Winnie!!!

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The kids knew there was a snapping turtle in the pond and I did not.  But as an educator I’ve learned that sometimes kids can teach me something.  On their own they set out to catch this mysterious turtle.  Their method.  Tying onion grass to a long stick.  They were having a blast.  I however, as an adult had my doubts.  Ha ha …. I thought it’s harmless fun.

Well little did I know there WAS a big snapping turtle hiding under a rock.  All of a sudden Winnie  shouts out there’s a turtle!  We all try to fit on this rock bridge to catch a look and sure enough there was the wise old turtle hanging out.  It was substantial.

 Shame on me for being a non believer.  They removed their bait ridden sticks and we waited for the water to still itself.  There it was.  How joyful!!

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It’s a great thing to appreciate children’s ingenuity.  Sometimes I think we overlook it because as adults we are so busy.  (doing what I sometimes wonder)  So the next time your kid tells you something that sound a little out there take the extra time to listen. They may teach you something.

Change happens by listening and then starting a dialogue with the people who are doing something you don’t believe is right.

Jane Goodall

Peace