Archives for posts with tag: outdoors with children

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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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!


Well it happens every year.  The sun sets early and our hiking time is cut short…. wait!  No it’s not…. the woods are still out there it’s just ….. well…. DARK!!

There is something that gets me so excited about walking in the woods as the sun sets and the dusk envelopes us.  My Natural Patterns class grade 1-3 set got to go on our first dark hike.

Of course there were some that didn’t realize that by the time we got back it would be dark… but I had some trusty flashlights to guide us!  (Thanks Mae for bringing yours) With the help of Ryan, the best ever 9th grade helper, we set out.

The colors of the fall leaves seem to vibrate as the sun is setting and while it was still a little light Owen decided that he was going to run ahead.  Well that stopped once darkness set in.

It was so fun and a great way to bond with the kids.  I reassured them that I would always be with them and that if they felt scared they could come walk right next to me.  I loved our conversations as we stroll along.

When we got back to the barn in the dark we talked about the leaves we collected but more about how it felt to be in the woods.

The kids told me that at times they were scared. Some were afraid they were going to be taken or that something would “eat ” us.  We talked about darkness, fear of it, bad dreams  and how our imagination can do a lot of things to us.

My hope is that they will feel a little less scared the next time we go out!

The next night I took  my Inspirations class of 4th to 6th graders into the darkness.  I put  two of my most trusted students in the back with two flashlights.  It was their job to make sure that no one got behind them.  They were awesome.  Thanks Aidan and Vincent!   It is an opportunity for all of the kids to be responsible and know that they had to listen for safety’s sake!

They did and thank goodness we didn’t loose anyone… ha ha   🙂   BUT we did get to hear a great horned owl calling out.  At first I don’t think they believed it was really an owl but after standing there we heard it again….  whoo who  whoooo      Awesome!!!!!!

Love my night hikers!!




Night Hikers!

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





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!









Two fun-filled classes this week!

The preschool group  hunted for the mystery plant of the day…..  the fern.  The fiddleheads have pretty much all unfolded into  beautiful fans of leaves.  I had this urge to make crowns of fern for all of the kids,  as I had done in the past for my daughter when she was small, but  we were hunting!!  Success!!  After a hike up and down the hills of Avalon and through the gate we found our mystery plant.  Along the way we ran, and smelled sassafras leaves, avoided poison ivy and ran!!  So free, so fun!

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Our older class of energetic Kindergarten through 3rd graders were ready to take on the “long” hike to the upper pond at Avalon.  Who knows what we will find?  Adventure awaits.  But I can tell you this that none of these kids came tired but I know they left full of fresh air, tired legs and things to dream about!

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Now we know there are two snapping turtles that like to hide under the rock bridge and also lots of green frogs which are hard to catch,hiding in the iris!   More to discover …. but it will have to wait!!!

Have a wonderful holiday weekend and do some exploring!!!  Even if it is turning over a rock somewhere!  Peace

Also, Welcome to  Emily, a summer intern working at Avalon.  The kids love her and she welcomes the outdoors just as I do!!  Yipeeeeee!