The Friendliest Bear of All…. Woolly.

Hey Folks!

What a welcomed blast of warm weather this week – though the chilly mornings are a reminder that Winter is on its way.  This week we noticed a lot of Fall changes occurring at the Collingwood School – leaves changing, birds migrating, flowers beginning to wilt (especially the goldenrod!) and each and every day, the overabundance of Woolly Bear Caterpillars.  So many in fact that our new address for one of our winter prospector tents is “45 Woolly Bear Dr.”, indicating the amount of caterpillars caught in one area!  We had Woolly Bear Races, Olympics, Towns and Schools created throughout the week (sidebar: pretty interesting as teachers to watch this unfold independently each day this week without prompt.)

Which got us thinking: why are there so many this year?  Or have we not noticed them before?  With some student research we found that the Woolly Bear is a fascinating creature.  We dove in to our field guides to uncover all the mysteries of this cuddly creature – and we weren’t disappointed:

-We learned it turns into an Isabella tiger moth and can live up to 14 years!
-We discovered that some hatch in Fall, and then FREEZE over the winter.
-We found out first hand they play possum and curl up when scared (unfortunately for some of our racers).
-We learned they eat pretty much any plant.
-And in folklore, that the relative amounts of brown and black hair can predict how harsh the Winter will be (though scientifically this has been debunked and actually is due to age and moisture.)

Of course throw in journaling, sit spots, Wolf Pack (a great Animal Forms game!), blindfolded navigation, barefoot hikes, clay factories, setting up the Prospector Tent (Thanks Tuesday Snowy Owls!), quieting the mind, chickadees up close and personal, carving, fire-making, fresh goldenrod tea and tea bag prep for Winter, climbing trees, community building and more, and it was full week!


Matt, Emily, and Krista



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