Archives for posts with tag: Long Island

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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For some a mouse can send shivers down the spine.  Others will see a picture of one and go awwww!  I guess it depends upon your experiences with them.  Three of my classes learned about the mouse. I focused on the senses of the mouse and how important it is to them.

Then I  translated it to human senses.  It was fun to play,  what is that sound?, what is that smell? and the hunt for food.

The wily mouse uses all of its senses to survive…..  for hearing I hid items and made the sound that they had to identify….. pots banging, change jingling, paper crumbling.  It was great to see how excited they all were to guess.

Next, I set up an obstacle course where the kids had to be mice going through the field to get food.  They crawled out of their homes through a tunnel, went through the field on a pathway, then over a hill and through a walkway…. all to find food.  They had to bring the food back to their home where they started.  But! While they did this I was a predator flying around… owl or hawk… I did both..   There were lots of giggles and scurrying mice as I tried to attack.

Finally we did the sense of smell.  I had some essential oils and I put them on paper towels for the kids to smell.  Peppermint, “It smells like my mommy’s gum!!”  Lavender,  “smells like soap”,  Vinegar, “yuck! ew!”, and orange – most of them got that!

The grand finale of the day was our mouse craft.  Each grade level did a different project!!

Here they are:

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It was a great time.

Remember to bundle up and get outside!


The last time we got together our class ventured into the woods to create a fort.  The idea was driven all by the kids and their desire to collect long branches.    We ran out of time last visit and only had a little luck.  I told them we could return on our next visit but to be aware that what they built might not be there when we return.  

Here was their first effort two weeks ago:



Yesterday while we were hiking in Brandon informed us that someone had knocked down their first effort.  That was predictable.  But I was happy to see that Brandon and his family had been out hiking and he checked on it.

I was met with an overwhelming YES when I asked if they wanted to return.  Motivation….. ahhh like a breath of fresh air!

Liam led the way and we were off, of course they gathered building materials as they went along.  It is so cool to see these kids get to do what they really want to  do.  It is the true essence of play and creativity, something there is a shortage of these days. 


When we arrived it took a little time for them to get organized.  When the branches ran out they went into the woods and pulled more.  I was impressed to see them all working hard to create their fort.  


Brandon breaking branches.


Running round like crazys!!


The beginning…..


Kathryn and Hazel working hard.

After about a half an hour of work they created a wonderful little structure.  Sophia said they needed some type of carpeting inside…. another suggested leaves for a soft floor.  If we had more time, Hazel had been busy collecting bark to side the outside.  But as usual our time ran out  so she hid the bark under a nearby tree.  They could have gone on for another hour.

Look at this baby!!! 



As we headed back to the barn Hazel and I were talking. We knew that  the fort might not be there when we returned.  I said to her it is like creating art, once you release it into the world it is no longer only yours.   I hope that others will come upon this and climb inside and add to it or just wonder about it…. 

Great job Hazel, Christopher (chief wood collector), Brandon, Kathryn, Liam, Sophia and Shannon!

Keep on building.



Yesterday the 3, 4 and 5 year olds took an awesome hike to the little pond at Avalon.  Owen was thrilled and couldn’t get there fast enough so he made himself the leader!  I was so excited by his motivation.  


Go Owen Go!!!


Along the way we found a praying mantis egg case, dandelions blooming, leaves opening and heard a woodpecker hard at work. 

Once we got to the pond we came upon a male and female mallard duck. Louis made sure I knew that they were mallards by saying hello to the “myyards”numerous times!  So precious and amazing that he knows the word… good for his parents!


Watching The Ducks

As you enter Avalon Park there is a larger pond with loads of ducks, geese and other water fowl.  It is has become a favorite spot for families to visit, take photos and feed the animals.  The parents and I were talking about how bad it is to feed the ducks.  A bunch of them were not aware of this, as are most people who stand there with their bags of white bread.   Although many people feel they are doing something good, unfortunately they are not.  Feeding these wild animals has many repercussions.  The easiest one to understand is that bread, popcorn, etc are just not good for ducks.  They are very high in calories and have no nutritional value.  So really we are harming these unsuspecting little guys.  Perhaps you’ve seen the geese who have disfigured wings?  Yep, that is caused by a lack of nutrition in these birds from eating crappy food.  Like people they need vitamins and our man made products don’t cut it.   

Another problem is that these animals forget how to forage for what they naturally eat because food is always supplied for them. So now  they depend upon us to feed them the whatever we think they might like. Doesn’t sound very natural.

If you are in the mood,  here’s a short article about feeding ducks:

Generally I try not to be preachy but the lesson is self evident.  As a group we sat and observed the ducks today.  We didn’t need to feed them. We just watched them.  We laughed so hard when the female duck dipped into the water leaving only her duck butt up in the air.  That’s all you need to do with kids, watch, talk and laugh!  They gather so much information just by watching.  

For those the others who weren’t interested in observing they wound their way around the pond balancing on the wood stumps sometimes stopping to look at the the grow fiddle heads!!!  So cool and furry!  


Coming soon… a fern!


Big boy Johnny with his hiking stick!


So next time you feel the urge to feed those ducks, just go down to the pond and watch those silly little guys.  Bring crayons and a pad and draw a pictures of them. (yes you too mom & dad!)  Get a bird guidebook and see if you can identify the water fowl  you see  or just stand, watch and talk to your children about them there’s so much to see!

peace to the ducks and geese  🙂