The new woods behind Roguewood is without a wetland at the moment. When Spring arrives there will be a vernal pond, or so I am told. T. patiently waited for me to catch up in order to show me where the water has been and will be. In the meantime, we will simply have to discover other wonders of the woods!
L. continues to build on her reputation for being a frog and toad catcher extraordinaire!
This funny critter showed up on a gorgeous beech tree. It was still there when we packed up to go home. Maybe it was cold. We were not cold but we were besieged by mosquitos.
J. enjoys using his new magnifier to check out the hairy caterpillar on the beech tree.
Also on the beech tree was a long column of daddy long legs just sitting quietly with their legs tucked in a bit. We wondered what they were doing and why they acted oddly and stayed so still. My theory was that the temperature was too cold for them. One of the kids noticed they were all in a shallow sort of indentation in the bark. Perhaps out of the wind?
One thing this woods has that the others I’ve explored with kids don’t have is wonderful, large standing rocks! It is irresistible to most children to climb up on a rock of this kind. I am always saddened when I see children out and about who are discouraged from climbing on rocks, practicing their balance on curbs, or any number of natural movements that children are bound to make.
We found a new Vine Playground! The wild grapevines are just huge here!
L. tests out the strength of the wild grapevine.
T. was easily able to climb up on top of the vine and bounce on it like a trampoline.
So many cool mushrooms since all that rain we had!
Z. inspects the reddish mushrooms she discovered.
More cool fungi!
Maybe we’ll call it, “Toad Forest.”
Kids sharing, practicing gentleness, noticing a toad’s camouflage, waiting patiently, using empathy! So much happens that we don’t even realize.
I suddenly noticed that most of the trees around this woods seem to be maples. Then I found a variety of nuts such as walnuts and hickory nuts lying around. It turns out there are completely different types of trees than any of our other 3 Woods and Wetlands locations!
The underside of a mushroom is a curious place!
Such tall, straight tree trunks!
We explored most of the woods today just getting to know some landmarks, practicing with our compasses, and taking turns sharing cool things we found with each other.
There is no doubt this is a shagbark hickory tree! At its feet were hundreds of hickory nut shells. We heard and saw multiple chipmunks who are likely responsible for some of the harvest. L. and I discussed trees for some time. He has a tremendous amount of prior knowledge about trees! He solemnly informed me that the older a tree gets the more its bark is split (he demonstrated what he meant) and he made pretty accurate guesses at the age of some of the trees we examined. Estimating tree height is a great way to use math!
More shagbark hickories.
We guessed at what is underneath this mossy mound. L. was sure it was rocks. I thought maybe a decomposing log. Turns out he was probably correct. We found other mounds like this one and were able to see large sections of rock peeking out at the base.
It seemed that every other moment one of us was bending down and exclaiming about some interesting find on the forest floor. I’d like to think the kids are better at it because they’re closer to the ground, but I realize I’m not that much farther away! I guess they are more observant than I am, (or have better eyesight?)
I do not know WHAT this odd plant was, but the seeds appeared to be the sleepy, fuzzy eyeballs of some pink monster. L. tried telling me it was actually called, “the fuzzy monster eyeball flower.”
Poison ivy all over the place! We quickly learned what it looks like!
Poison ivy does have 3 leaves, but it is not always red, not always vining, and there are many other plants with 3 leaves. So we just had to keep looking for it, practicing finding it. Wild berry canes often get mistaken for it but they have tiny spines and poison ivy does not.
We might build a fort next week!
Where to from here?
We learned about and practiced noticing landmarks.
L was very taken with the beautiful pattern inside the walnut shell.
Where to go when the log ends? Some of us challenged ourselves to a game of, “Don’t Touch the Ground.”
There are plenty of dead branches around for us to build with.
This unique tree had large, blade like root tops well above the ground.
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I am an and outdoor educator with a master's in early childhood development. I taught elementary school for 20 years and now own Woods and Wetlands LLC, offering programs for local children to engage in nature study through play and exploration-based learning. My programs are all outdoors in whatever "wild" spaces are available. I live in Rockford, Michigan with my husband, dog, and three cats. My unique, therapeutic, one and a half hour programs help children to connect with the natural world and with themselves.
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