Archives for posts with tag: the woods

Yesterday was a  beautiful fall day.  I was able to hold the class outside.  It felt so wonderful to sit on our squares and talk about fall and what happened to the trees surrounding us.  I asked, “what did the trees look like before they were empty” The preschoolers responses were varied and most of them said there were leaves on the trees.  Most of them said they were colored leaves.  It was hard for them to remember all the way back to the time when the leaves were green.  But finally we got there!  Something so simple that most take for granted.   It truly is an amazing cycle.

It’s great to just sit on the ground an talk about what is all around you. We could hear and see the geese flying, we could hear the pheasants squawking, and of course Owen heard the trains, “double deckers!”  Perhaps one thing a parent can share with their child is just sitting outside and listening.  It doesn’t take up that much time.  Especially now that fall is ending and the leaves are gone… there are so many different sounds available to our ears.  The need for our children to be able to  play outside is gaining more and more importance as we are seeing studies saying the there is a connection between lack of outdoor play in kids and learning issues.   Anyway, I digress to make that statement which is always on my mind.  Preachy Miss, Mrs., Mrs Aunt Sue !!!

Our class went on a leaf hunt and selected some oak leaves (no shortage of those) Each child brought their leaf back to the rock table to make a silhouette painting.  It was challenging but with the help of parents and grandparents they were able to pull it off and boy were they proud! So simple and so fun!

Here are a few pics:

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Then we went for a great hike to the magical evergreen tree!  I love this place.  We also discovered a lot too.  Saw some more pheasants, so beautiful!

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It was a fabulous day!!!

Get em outside!!!

SW

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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!!

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Moon!!!

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Night Hikers!

Chipmunks are cute little rodents that love to scurry about collecting food, digging burrows and making us say awwww.  In class today we learned about these creatures and how they survive.  We watched  a short and entertaining video of chipmunks trying to stuff huge amounts of nuts into their cheek pouches.  These preschool kids loved it and laughed as they watched the persistent little chipmunk stuff their face.

I thought it would be fun for us to become little chipmunks ourselves so I made little pouches for the kids to wear around their necks and we set out to collect some nuts.  Before we went into the woods we discovered some of the local burrows of the resident chipmunks that hang around the barn.

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Clover pointing out the chipmunk burrow!

 

 

Once we set out for our nut search it was important to get these little chipmunks to act and think like the chipmunk would.  We had to walk looking down for those nuts.  It took a while but they were successful.  Some of them even collected leaves for their beds!  Such beautiful and amazing kids.

It was a super day to be out in the woods, with the air so fresh and the multicolored leaves surrounding us!  Ahhhhhh   What a treat for the senses.

Here are the little chipmunks:

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When all was said and done and our time was up in the woods, we returned back to the barn with our pouches filled.  I suggested to the parents that they do an experiment with the nuts.  Take them home and place them outside then check back the next day to see if they were still there.  Simple but fun!

I promise we left enough nuts out there for the real chipmunks and squirrels to collect for their winter feast!!

Get out and go nuts!

Sue

We finished our lesson on spiders and headed into the woods.  The weather was lovely and the time was right for a stroll.  Our preschool kids and parents wandered through the woods looking for spider webs.  They were lucky enough to have keen eyes and spot a few small spiders in their webs.  Teeny tiny things!  One of the moms found a daddy long legs  (which is actually not a spider) .  Clover let it crawl all over her jacket.  It seemed to really love her and did not want to let go.  The kids gathered around the parents stood back.  hahahah!  (well some of them)

It was a great hike but the best part of the whole hike was when we approached this fallen tree.  The kids were drawn to it like a magnet!  Their need to climb was almost instinctual.  So amazing.  With their parents help they climbed, crawled and sat upon the tree.  I just had to stand back and watch the parents do what was needed for their kids.  I was very proud of them.  Of the parents that is!!!  They were not imposing their adult scare tactics, which we as parents are so good at….. “be careful, that’s too high, you might get hurt!!”  I didn’t hear or feel the fear, instead what I saw was this:

 

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Pure fun!!!  It was hard to tear them away from the tree but we had to head back!!!!  I loved spending this valuable time in the woods with these families.  I truly feel like I have the best job in the world.  Keep up the good work parents and climb away!!!  It ‘s great for you and your kids!

Peace,

Sue

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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

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Perfect Fall day!

We wandered around the trail on a color hunt!  Looking for reds, yellows, oranges, greens, browns and blues.  It was a fun way to get the kids and moms and grand moms to work together.  Along the way we stopped and talked and I punch their color cards with my “smelly feet” hole punch.  They were all working towards getting all the colors identified and  receiving an acorn necklace and beads for their hard work!

Here are some fun pics.  Love to see the moms smiling along with the kids!

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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