Archives for posts with tag: nature and kids

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!


Last Wednesday the 7th graders met with Douglas, one of the maintenance workers here at Avalon Park and Preserve, for a lesson in what it takes to keep the park looking the way it does.   Sometimes we forget about the work behind the scenes.  It’s important for us to appreciate the amount of work it takes to keep this park a peaceful and relaxing place to visit.

Douglas started out with a brief history of the Park talking about the acreage and the different parts of the park.  Next he pulled out the chainsaws and talked about he engines and the blades and how important the maintenance of  these machines were.  They all got to look at the chains up close and also got to feel the weight of different sized chainsaws. Developing respect for the machinery is important because it can be deadly if not taken seriously.  Douglas again showed the tools and the other machinery that the staff uses to maintain the grounds.

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The big machines were the best, especially when he pulled out a small tractor that he explained, they use to cut the wildflower fields down in the spring.  There were definitely surprised to hear about this.  They were all lucky enough to sample the tractor firsthand.  Their smiles were so big!!!


Aidan in a welding mask! “I never saw one of these before!”


Brandon at the wheel!


Finally we went out for our hike in the dark!!!  Awesome!!! We heard our friendly great horned owl… who who whoo!

As we walked through the fields Douglas recited poetry…

Robert Frost

Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village, though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.

My little horse must think it queer 5
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.

He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake. 10
The only other sounds the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.

The woods are lovely, dark, and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep, 15
And miles to go before I sleep.


What better place to hear this poem than in to middle of a field in the dark.  Bravo Douglas!!!

As we ended our hike he recited one more poem:

’Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.

“Beware the Jabberwock, my son!
The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!
Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun
The frumious Bandersnatch!”

He took his vorpal sword in hand;
Long time the manxome foe he sought—
So rested he by the Tumtum tree
And stood awhile in thought.

And, as in uffish thought he stood,
The Jabberwock, with eyes of flame,
Came whiffling through the tulgey wood,
And burbled as it came!

One, two! One, two! And through and through
The vorpal blade went snicker-snack!
He left it dead, and with its head
He went galumphing back.

“And hast thou slain the Jabberwock?
Come to my arms, my beamish boy!
O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!”
He chortled in his joy.

’Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.


A perfect ending to a perfect night! Thank you so much Douglas for filling our minds with a new appreciation for the woods at night  and poetry!


The Crew!

The Crew!


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:



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”



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


Well, were back to exploring the great outdoors at Avalon again!!

Our first day back was with the Sticks Stones and Stories preschoolers… moms/dads/grandmas/oma’s/ opa’s…  fabulous

Our super fun first exploration was something so big and beautiful it’s hard to believe that it all starts with one seed!

It’s the towering sunflower!!!


These flowers have spent their days growing in our great garden on the side of the barn, bathing in the delicious sunshine all summer.

As the petals begin to turn brown and the flowerets have been pollinated it is now time to explore this amazing flower!

Most children get to admire this  flower from afar.  But today we pulled it out of the ground … tearing the roots from the earth..   examining them. Next, using a hand saw,  cutting open the chunky stem to feel the moist insides where the water flows.  Touching the large rough leaves and playing with them ( Lilly made music with hers!)  Finally getting the head of the flower to examine the petals, all the mini flowers and the seeds!!!  Such an amazing sight to see how they grow … all neatly packed  in there.

Once we finished exploring outside we took the heads and brought them inside to take out the seeds.  Everyone  got to take their seeds home.  I wonder what they will do with them?  Eat them, feed them to the animals… plant them???  Such fun!

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Finally a craft and a story to complete our first class together.  Great kids, great parent and grandparents.

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Get outside!

peace, Sue



Today we talked about weather.  I thought it would be fun to listen to sounds of weather and have them create what the weather looked like using pastels and watercolor paint. 

I love to see children engaged in painting and drawing… it’s so joyful.  When I took out the large sheets of paper the some of the parents and kids were like…”wow!”  What fun it is to have a large blank space to do whatever you want on it.  No directions needed.

First came wind, then sun, then rain!  All on the same paper… crazy!!!  Just look at these pictures and you can see their weather.  All different and magnificent!





Afterwards we went out into the real weather which was warm and sunny and we ate some of our lettuce…. 

Lovely little bunnies…

Get outside …. 


Not too long ago the weather was still crisp and we began our planting season.  Lettuce for the K to 3rd graders.

They got the soil ready


They carefully planted the seeds…



Watched the seeds begin to erupt…..



Look what they’ve done!!!!  We’ve been munching along the way and can’t wait to harvest it so they can all go home and make salad!!!

All done by them!!!

Great job my proud gardeners!






Dandelion Prints


The the end result of an in-depth look at dandelions.

 While some people think that dandelions are pesky, historically  they were of great use ….. food, drink and medicine.  But now many of us just think of them as weeds.  Pesky weeds that many people shoot with chemicals to assassinate them especially before they turn into those white seed bearing blow things.

As a child, I remember blowing the seed heads all around…. running through fields of them spreading them into more and more dandelions. So fun!  

Since they are busy blooming now I thought it would be a great time to look closer at these invading/nutritious plants.

I was able to dig up a really big plant with a gigantic root.  I asked the kids if they knew what it was.  Upon first glance one of them said, “Carrot!” But after they actually looked closer and touched it they realized it was a indeed a dandelion.  We chatted about how big the root is and that it slurps up the water for the plant.  Then I showed them a time lapse video of a dandelion’s life

Some of them were surprised to learn that the yellow dandelion and the white puffball were from the same plant.  The video helped the kids to see what happens to the yellow flower.  It is actually amazing. 

Then we chatted more about the leaves.  I told them that you can eat dandelion leaves, BUT we need talk to an adult before picking them because sometimes they are in places that have been sprayed with chemicals or peed on by dogs etc. (if you are going to do this please do some research online.)   I was able to buy some really huge dandelion leaves at Wild by Nature and we had a taste test!


Kaeley opted out of tasting, just feeling it!


Mae nibbled the tip!


Rylie digging in !


Rory getting ready to taste!

Let’s just say they learned what the word bitter means!!!  However, I was so proud of the willing taste testers!

After we finished our taste test we went outside and put the remains of these leaves in the compost heap and visited with our lettuce that we planted a few weeks ago.  I think this lettuce will be a bit yummier!!!


For our grand finale, we went into the field and dug up some dandelions to make  prints with the leaves. 






Love seeing how hard they worked to get those dandelions up!

It was a dandy day full new tastes and info. Even gave them a dandelion leaf recipe to take home if their parents are brave enough to try!

The kids will never look  at dandelions in the same way! 

Get out and check out your local dandelions!









A great day to start off the season with our garden.  Cleaning and preparing the luscious soil to give birth to our plants with the help of Mother Sunshine!

Our 3-4 year old groups and parents were ready to lend a hand to clean out our box garden from its sleeping state.  They cleared out the branches that will once again hold our bean plants and also tilled the soil.   So wonderful to see the kids getting their hands dirty!!!!


Look at Finn’s face of  determination as he moves the branchImagea

As yes then the unearthing of weeds and WORMS.  I was so pleased to see these children cooperating and working in harmony as they  searched for gold in the form of wiggliness!  No one screeched or eeewwwwed when the worms were found.  It was more like shrieks of pure joy!  Dig in kids, dig in!


Ah yes the prize!!!Image

Now  ready to prepare with their heads down and hard at work!

This season this garden box  will be shared with the Kindergarten and Grades 1-3 groups.  It will be fun to track the development.




When we finished our work in the garden we had the opportunity to run out in the freshly cut wildflower fields.  Just what we all needed after toiling in the garden and the  long hard winter.  



Run!!! Run, Run!!!!  I even see some parents out there too.  

On that note,  I love the parents who are willing to come be outside to be with their kids.  Perhaps they realize what a gift they are giving to their children. If not, you need to know I am impressed.  It is important for this young generation to learn to love our earth so that they will take care of it for future.  ( oh I sound so preachy…. yuck) 

So for now get out into a field, run, scream and laugh…. it’ll do your winterized body good!

Peace and hiking, 


I find it amusing to watch these children collect things.  At times it’s been acorns but today it was stalks from the spent wildflowers.  Celeste, Kathryn and Samantha were straggling behind collecting the stalks.  When I asked them why they said, “because we want to build a fort.”  Of course… how silly I am!  I don’t know what exactly they had in mind but when we arrived at our destination they were ready to build. 

Interestingly, when they arrived they seemed unsure about what to do.  But this was a great opportunity for them to work together and figure it out.  And they did.   Time passed so quickly and we had to leave to go back to the waiting parents.  They were just beginning to get into full building mode and I had to be the party pooper telling them we had to go. ” Nooooooooo, we’re not done”  I actually felt bad and the playfulness in me wanted to stay til the sun went down, but I’m an adult and I had to deliver these kids back to their parents….  Sometimes I have to be the enforcer.   



We finally got on the road back to the barn …. 10 minutes late (oops)  And I consoled them by saying we can return next time to see what has happened to their creation.  I wish they were coming back next week… I love the adventure, the spirit and the willingness to create with nothing but nature.  Fun stuff!!!!!

Until next time…. get outside!