Yesterday we had only 7 of our group members and we definitely missed those who couldn’t make it. But we still had a great time making discoveries and building things with nature. We stopped so many times along the path to the wetland that we used over half of our class time just on the walk. I love that this is a time when I don’t have to hurry and rush kids from one place to another. That is something I will not miss from the classroom setting! We stopped every time one of the kids noticed some little treasure or curiosity along the path.
Since we all had our new, little journals in hand, we were able to jot down notes about what we saw, questions we had, and sketches of various plants or animals. One of the first discoveries was a nearly-dead cicada! These are such interesting looking insects and everyone inspected it closely with magnifiers and we brought it along in a critter container. I heard comments like, “It’s head reminds me of the shape of a hammer-head shark!” and, “Look! It’s got tiny little antennae!” and, “You can see through its wings!” We noticed that it has two sets of clear wings, like fairy wings, and it had a hole in the end of its abdomen, making us wonder what happened to it. We wondered about the life cycle of this creature and I made a note to look it up later. We measured it and noted that it was 5 cm long.
We also were thrilled to find Ms. Toad living in the same hollow in the tree she was in back in June when 3 of our class members were with me for spring Woods and Wetlands! She got a little nervous with all of us looking at her and she backed downward into her hole. P. thoughtfully wanted to make a roof for her to protect her from the rain, which led to a discussion about how nice that is to want to help her, but that she and Nature have got things the way they need them and she probably needs it open above her to help bugs come in for her to eat.
The main “noticing,” we did was of all the many types of seeds that various plants and trees were presenting. Some seeds were fuzzy like velcro and found ways to hitch a ride with us as we passed by. Other seeds were large, like acorns and what I think were hickory nuts. We noted how the mullein, the fuzzy, “band-aid,” plant, had flowered and each flower left behind a tiny envelope jam-packed with seeds smaller than a poppy seed! So many different sizes and shapes of seeds, and each one containing all the information it needs to make a new plant! Nature is amazing!
We briefly visited a maple tree that is good for climbing up a short distance, and then moved to the swamp with the Vine Playground where a few kids worked together to begin a fort made with rocks, grape-vine, and sticks. I was amused to note that along the way some of the kids were gathering large rocks and carrying them in their backpacks to use for their intended fort. No wonder they were so tired on the walk back!
Today the predicted storms have postponed class, but we will get out there tomorrow and see what new mushrooms have popped up in the rain!