Here are some highlights from February Forest Fridays! First, check out our super cool shades and sun hats for eating snack in the heat of the hoop house. We continue to observe the greenhouse effect there and discuss the different conditions we encounter. Last week, the sun was melting ice on the plastic and we watched water running down the walls outside!
And welcome to Our Small Ocean, or Lake Bowdoinham, as Mr. Lajoie calls it, aka the blacktop at recess. The kindergarteners had a great time exploring in the water, mining for ice chunks, smashing ice, and building with ice. Each day we eagerly study it upon arrival at school, watch how it changes throughout the day, and predict what will happen to it next. Will it freeze or stay open? Will it grow with more snow melting or will it evaporate in the sun? We love studying ice!
Today we had to keep our Forest Friday short because of the cold. We predicted that our hoophouse would both be warmer and less windy. And that was true– it was about 20 degrees above the woods temperature and the ground was hard but not completely frozen.
While we were doing Sit Spots, we heard a commotion in our ravine. It was the third graders with Ms. Caswell! They were out for a hike too.
To stay warm we mostly hiked, with a short play break. We navigated our ravine no problem. We rolled down hills instead of walking. And we chipped through thick ice and found some water in small muddy puddles.
Nothing can stop these Forest Kids– as long as they have their wool socks, long underwear, neck warmers, and joy for the woods. Oh and masks help keep you pretty warm outside too!
We were all happy to see even the tiny bit of snow that fell last night. Of course it is mostly gone now, but these Forest Kids got the most out of it. One thing we noticed was that the snow on the hoop house was a vast improvement. We still had to squint a little, but it wasn’t unbearable in there without sunglasses. We could eat snack much more comfortably! The kids explained it: “It is shady because the snow is on the roof. The sun can’t get in, so it isn’t as hot.” But some noticed, “Where the sun is on one side is a little brighter. The other side is darker.”
A worm was a second surprising discovery. The kids found it in the thin trickle of water where the mud was not frozen. It was cold, but still moving!
We had a fabulous time out in the sunny, crunchy woods. There was a trickle of water in the ravine, just enough crusty snow to play with, and sticks to gather for the fire. Ms. Karen Tilbor, a veteran Bowdoinham fire-tender, came to build and watch our fire for us. It was so cozy to have a fire at last!
This afternoon, we transitioned into some big work in Phonics and Writing. This has nothing to do with the woods, but I am proud of these kids. They taught their stuffies all that they have learned about snap words in “Word School.” It was a beautifully humming half hour!
And last, we put the final touches on our books, ranging in topic from Star Wars to pets to vacations to dragons. We created a bookstore that is open to teachers and staff next week. It is 50 cents a book! All proceeds will go to the Bowdoinham Food Pantry. These writers have worked incredibly hard the last couple of months, and now they can write a book across a few pages with labels and a sentence! You can see the books sorted by category in the colored slots across the wall. It is very exciting to be a writer whose books people may want to actually buy! With real money!
Signs of spring were all around today! Bugs, mud, bits of green grass, warm sun, trickling water, soft thawing ground. I love that when you ask these Forest Kids what signs of spring they have noticed, they know there aren’t any flowers and butterflies out. This is mud season at its best!
A bark beetle found by Hunter. It was tickly!
An ant found by Laurel. It was still cold but beginning to move around.
Mud. Love it and hate it. Lyndon had a particularly good mud outfit on today! Probably from rolling down muddy hills over and over.
Apologies to everyone for the muddy coats and mittens. I guarantee you, the best kind of fun and learning was happening today in the woods. Thank you for your patience with it all!
Last week, under Amelie’s Sit Spot tree, we found an owl pellet! It was a small gray lump about the size of a large grape. If you aren’t already familiar with the concept, predatory birds cough up pellets consisting of the parts of their prey they cannot digest. Waste also passes through them, but is a soft consistency (what you think of as bird poop!) and doesn’t contain any solids like bones or fur the way mammal scat does. So, dissecting an owl pellet is an easy way to find out what the bird was eating. In the picture below, the gray stuff is fur and you can see a few bones lined up–a pelvis, jawbone, and a partial skull. Some kind of small mammal like a mouse, shrew, or vole! The kids were fascinated to watch me dissect this, and Gemma went at it afterwards with a pair of gloves and the tweezers.
I remember dissecting owl pellets myself as a third grader. Incredibly fascinating!