R is for beaveR RiveR!
Today we explored the Beaver River! We were lucky to have such nice warm weather in this early month of October. After our morning ritual of check-ins and smudging, we began making a minnow-trap together. We used a big pop bottle, took the lid off, cut off the top part, then turned it into the bottle and made holes into the side of the top of the bottle to sew it together. That way the minnows would swim into the bottle, but not be able to swim out. We added some more holes to the bottle so that more water could flow through the trap. After finishing the trap, everyone “donated” something from their snack as bate. We attached the trap to a rope and put the minnow trap into the river. Now it was time to wait.
In the meantime we explored the river shoreline and discovered more mussle shells. The insides of the clam shells are very like by the kids. After rinsing the mud off the shells and holding the inside of the shell in the light the Thornbury students are in awe over and over again: the colors that shimmer are quite amazing! From a shimmering pink to a shimmering turquoise green, while admiring the beautiful, silky insides of the mussels we were reminded of jewelry. The kids were very eager to find more shells and compare them! And while in one spot we were finding a lot of shells, other spots had no mussels at all. We wondered why this was the case and soon found animal prints that would give us the answer to our question: raccoons! They must eat all the actual mussel and leave the shells in the area they had their food.
What would a day of river exploration be without paddling the river?! Luckily the weather was on our side and we made our way to Slabtown in kayaks to hopefully also see the migration of the salmon and watch the big fish jump up the damn. While paddling down the river there were plenty of rapids. The kids counted 15 spots in total where we had some fun, swiftly parts to paddle along. One section in particular was their favorite: the riverbed naturally dropped about a foot in one spot and made a ‘mini-waterfall’ that everyone had fun paddling down. While on the river we spoke about different animals living on, by and in the river. We discovered that many animals and also many plants depend on the river which provides them with food, water and an excellent environment to grow and live in. We noticed that many backyards of local residents backed onto the river shores as well. Apparently, humans also love being by the water 🙂 ! Once we reached Slabtown, we did not see any fish try and jump the damn. But the warm weather and the water rushing down the damn was definitely very inviting to go for a swim. Maybe the last swim of the year? No second thoughts ! The children were on the damn and jumped into the water. After experiencing the current of the water flowing down the damn, we could not believe that fish actually were able to swim and jump up it!
Back in Heathcote it was definitely time for a lunch. And also, what was that minnow trap of ours doing? It was full of fish! Many of them had died unfortunately. Upset about this experience, we talked about why this may have happened. Some suggestions were that it was too crowded, the bate we had put into the trap wasn’t good for the fish, we waited too long or there might have not been enough oxygen for all the fish to breath in the bottle. We were reminded of how delicate nature actually is and how destroying our impact can be. Our trap needed improvement and needed to be checked more regularly if we wanted to try it again, that was for sure!
After encountering some of the Beaver River’s inhabitants we thought about more animals which can be found here and where their habitat actually is. We divided the environment ‘river’ into 3 sections:
- Tree-tops / above the river
- River banks / river surface
We made a map and glued pictures of many animals that can be found at the beaver river onto their prime living space. We also talked about what the animals eat and why the (Beaver) river inhabitants benefit so much from living there.
In the afternoon it began to rain more and we wanted to get cozy around a fire to warm ourselves up. The children are always very excited to make a fire and are getting more and more chances to start a fire on their own. On a rainy day like today, that’s not necessarily the easiest thing to do! The responsibility lies with them to find the right tinder to get the fire going,afterwards find the right wood to keep the fire going and make sure that all the rules we made about being around a fire are being followed. It’s also the children’s responsibility to make sure that the fire is out after we are done. Giving the children these opportunities to supervise and maintain our fire on their own really empowers them and gives them a sense of independence. The kids show me on a continuous basis that they can follow the rules, understand the dangers of fire and undertake all the necessary steps to prevent a dangerous situation. I’m sure some fire beads will be added to their medallions pretty soon … 😉
Speaking of beads: congratulation to Izzy & Ryder on gaining your first beads – the story telling bead! We enjoyed your stories by the fire today!
Fall weather is here and the colder weather will be rolling in very soon! We will continue making fires to keep us warm! Hopefully next week, too!
Next week: Plant ID