Archives for posts with tag: observing nature with children

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!



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.




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!!

A sunflower is a perfect example of a natural pattern…from the root system to the intricate arrangement of the seeds.  This class of 1st – 3rd graders dissected this sunflower with gusto..  from roots to head they were all over it!

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One of them found a stink bug and proceed to put it into the hole of the head of the flower (see the picture) When we cracked open the seed head they were hysterical to see the bug in there! Sorta like hide and seed with a stink bug!
 After they finished their seed picking they set to work on creating their own sunflower paintings!  I love how unique each painting is.  It shows that they are free to create and interpret how they would like.  That’s the best thing about being a kid, being allowed to paint a sunflower how you’d like without criticism!   So here they are for you to enjoy!

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Enjoy your day and get outside!!


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



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!!!


IMG_1445This beautiful photo was taken by Amelie, one of the hikers in the group!

On our hike to today we had a contest to see who could collect the most nuts.  I called them my nutty bunch!  They have a great deal of energy and it is always a challenge to get them to notice the things around them.  I love that they get to run, but exploring can be part of the adventure too!   After our hike the kids returned to the barn with their stash of nuts to see who was the winner.  Of course we all knew that Matt would be the winner because his pockets were practically hanging down to his knees.  But then something happened…. some of the kids decided to add to Matt’s pile….  so I think then they all decided they were  winners!!  Matt was okay with that and which made me sigh with relief!

Wiggly worm find!

Wiggly worm find!

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Love my nutty bunch…. it was a fun day!!!  xoxox

ImageBenjamin was so excited to show me how he could skip!  So when we started our hike in the wildflower fields he took off in his bright yellow shirt skipping all the way!  He skipped and skipped and before you know it there were more skippers or hoppers or runners following him.  It was contagious.  So much so that I joined in the fun.  All that counted at that moment was the kids were free and doing what they wanted. So fun!

Maybe we could have skipping day at work???  Wouldn’t it be funny to watch your co-workers skip to the coffee room.  Ha!!!

Skipping is an acquired skill.  We don’t just skip…. our body has to be ready to skip.   Most kids will skip by 5 but don’t fret if your child is not quite there yet!  Get our there and  skip or perhaps gallop, another acquired skill.  Add on horse neighs and you’re really multitasking. Whew!

To see all these children back at Avalon doing what they belong doing is precious.  No cell phones, no  video games…. just pure organic fun.

Some kids chose to walk and that was just as good.  There was more time to look for flowers and bugs.  It’s all good!


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!!

ImageThe fairies thank you, guys!

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!!!!!


 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!


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!!


Peaceful travels along the trail…..


ImageNature hungry, is what comes to mind when I step back and watch these children explore. The earth is slowly waking up and warming.  The bugs are on the move and how thrilling and refreshing it is to see these children get so excited at the site of something moving around in the wildflower fields of Avalon.  The ground was alive with milkweed bugs with their brilliant orange stripes and worms coming up to peek at the world.  One step after another something to be discovered.  


 Baby worms wiggling, everyone crowding to see it squirming.  How cool to hold this wet, cold slimy creature.  Think of how many worms we walk past as adults.  We are so far above the ground and the kids are grounded noticing the tiniest movement.  

Richare Louv writes, “In nature, a child finds freedom, fantasy and privacy; a place distant from the adult world, a separate place.”  He reminds us again and again in his book, “Last Child in the Woods, Saving our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder”,  of the importance of children’s need to connect with nature and how it helps them to make sense of the world around them.  

Today is a great day to take your child outside.  Shut off the TV, video games, and spend 20 minutes outside whether you are in your backyard, a park, a rooftop garden it will feed your child’s mind.  They will thank you for it one day!

Tired Hikers…. delighted!