Woods and Wetlands 2017

Curious and Creative

Impromptu chemistry lab.  Even fifth graders still like to (and should!) play with random substances.  This is a concoction of swamp muck and bittersweet berry juice made for no other purpose than to experiment with what it would look and smell like.  Process over product is where learning happens!
Beautiful bittersweet berries.  We looked them up to learn about whether they are edible, though I was sure they are not.  It said that while they won’t be actually poisonous, they will produce some extremely unpleasant results.  I reinforced the rule about never eating substances out of nature without an adult who absolutely knows what it is and whether it is safe.  But we also talked about how early humans might have tested berries to find out what they could eat.  They might have touched them, broken them open, sniffed them, perhaps touched just the tip of their tongue and waited to see how that felt or tasted.  Medicines could also be tested this way in small quantities.
This was the larva of the gall fly that we found after cutting open several galls we found on goldenrod stems.  They used their magnifying glasses to inspect it closely.
Collaboration and discussion as they take turns looking at their discovery.
This is a gall that I cut open with my pocket knife.  Inside we found a tiny larva.  We wondered, “What kind was it?  How did it get there?  When would it hatch into something else?  How would it get out?”  We researched the answers online using my phone and found that it was a gall fly.  They choose only certain, select goldenrod plants and lay their eggs at the tip of the stem.  The larva produces saliva that imitates the plant’s hormones, causing it to grow this woody, round gall around the larva, protecting it for the winter until it is ready to hatch and burrow out as a fly.

G. did some mud painting on various surfaces.
They kept their frog in a container of leaves for a while before adding a worm and another bug.
S. and B. learned and practiced braiding cattail leaves to make a rope.

Ever the artist, G. makes swamp muck paint and uses a cattail as a paintbrush.

I was amazed that they found this sleepy little wood frog so late in the year!

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