May the Forest be with you.

Hey Folks!

Worms and insects are out.  Turtles and Frogs are sunbathing.  Birds are singing and making nests.  Spring is here and here’s the recap of our week, enjoy!

Tuesday

With emergent interests at the forefront, we were a little all over the place on Tuesday with an overarching theme of Spring – though it felt more like Summer! We began our day with some of our core routines and games, then jumped into plant ID.  We set the stage – 8 mystery plants that need to be identified and limited time periods to peek at the master copy!  Students did an excellent job of uncovering and naming various plants using just small pieces of them including clover, willow, dogwood and more.

Afterwards, we had to take advantage of the warm sun and headed out on an adventure, nets in hand just in case.  We played around the big lake, dammed up our stream, climbed fossil mountain and found and caught an incredible amount of critters!  Frogs, tadpoles, a blind fish, some green eggs and 2 Giant Water Bugs aka Lethocerus americanus.  In addition, we found a kill site from what we guessed was last fall, and tried to unravel the mystery of what occurred.

In the afternoon, we got crafty and did some painting and made “seed” bombs.  Seed bombs (clay, soil and seeds) are meant to be tossed anywhere and make flowers grow.  Let us know how yours do!  We finished up with a teambuilding initiative – choose the right path – and before we knew our day had flown by!

Wednesday

Similar to Tuesday, our Wednesday group was excited about searching for water creatures – and determined to find a Giant Water Bug.  After a thrilling “Ring Toss” Tournament, we were on our way to the West side of the big pond in hopes of capturing some critters.  We were able to snag some striders, a tadpole and frog pretty quickly, but as the rain began to roll in our hopes dwindled on catching a Giant Water Bug – until at nearly the last moment, a log was moved and we got one!

We decided to head back as the rain picked up, and along the way were treated to a nesting Morning Dove in a cedar.  A big props to the student with the keen eyes!  On our way to get dry however, the rain stopped (as was our day: rain, sun, rain, sun) so we stopped too to spend some quality time at our sit spots.  It wasn’t long until students were drawn to a huge puddle – a bridge went up, frogs eggs were spotted and inevitably shoes came off to squish in the clay.

After lunch – and a quick thunderstorm that sent us inside for a bit – we dove into a teambuilding initiative (island hopping) and students did extremely well coming through with the fastest time to date!

After our story of the day (debrief) it was to say adieu for another week.

Thursday

The rain didn’t slow us down on Thursday as we lit ourselves a nice big fire to dry off and stay warm.  In fact the wet weather actually inspired us to get building on our shelters in our it spots.  And who can resist a giant puddle full of clay?  And hundreds of striders – so much that our students shoveled out a section, built some walls and created a strider sanctuary.  Some students even took on the initiative of building a tee-“pea”: a living garden structure designed to grow peas and provide shelter!

In the afternoon we ventured west with nets in hand.  With the cold weather, we were sort of surprised to find a turtle out on shore, but happy nonetheless.  And while we didn’t spot any giant water bugs, we did get up close and personal with a mama morning dove sitting on her nest in a cedar.  As we ventured more, we uncovered tons of fossils, found that the bank swallows have returned to Fossil Mountain and followed some fresh deer tracks.

On days like this, we’re reminded that rain is a good thing as flowers are starting to bloom!

Friday

The morning clouds gave us a heads up – take advantage of the sun because we’d likely have rain later.

Our students set the stage today when they imagined a mini jungle life playing itself out in the grass – think “Honey I Shrunk the Kids”.  Therefore after doing some core routines (smudge, animal forms, quiet time) we headed out to our Sit Spots to play, build and get up close a personal with bugs.  Specifically we built a bug hotel!  Complete with pine cone rooms, sumac rooms, bark rooms, and mud rooms.  Holes were drilled in locks, mini hammocks were made and even a pool was put in for the striders.   It turned into more of a 5-star bug resort, and students eagerly sought out bugs to add to it.  Worms, Potato Bugs, Striders, Centipedes and even a Wooly Bear caterpillar (named Crawly) all checked in.  With lunch looming, we headed back, just in time for the torrential downpour.

The sun made it’s return shortly after, and we continued with our bug theme shifting our focus to bees.  After some students made some beeswax chap stick to take home, we chatted about threats to the bee population and the ramifications it could have.  We explored pesticide use, habitat loss and other critical issues.  And then we dove into the roles of bees in a macro-model we call “Bee-Safe” where bees must retrieve pollen without getting tagged by some of the “threats”.

After a final barefoot walk through the gigantic puddle, we called it a day.  Happy May the 4th Star Wars fans!

Cheers,

Matt and Krista

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