Our new group of explorers started today and we lucked out because there were no storms and not even any rain! (We do not cancel for rain.) Unfortunately the river and its little tributary were both far too deep and fast to be safe for any of us to go wading. Even our little DIY “bridge” we made with our first group was underwater and the logjam bridge was inaccessible. We are hoping that before our two weeks with this group are over that the water will recede and we can safely play and explore there.
Day 1 with any group always contains far too much talking on my part and though I try to incorporate movement into our introductions, going over basic rules and safety expectations inevitably takes too long. This group is, overall, younger than our first group, so our activities and the kids’ interests will be different. It was fun to begin getting to know all 15 different personalities today! Learning all those names is my first priority, so Mrs. Webb and I practiced throughout the morning and I think we’ve almost got them all matched up with faces!
We met and greeted each other by having each of us act out something we love to do and then we all said good morning while acting out the same thing. For example, I said, “Miss Tahlia likes to climb trees,” while pretending to climb a tree. Then they all said, “Good morning, Miss Tahlia!” while pretending to climb a tree. We went around the circle like this. I also had them act like human protractors (an idea from my beloved Morning Meeting Book) to show how much experience they have had exploring in nature. A “10” meant they have already done A LOT of nature exploration, so they stood up straight with their arms straight up over their heads. A “0” meant they had no experience at all, and they stood with their body folded forward, touching their toes. A “5” was in the middle, bent in half, to show they had some, but not a lot, of experience.
On our way to the woods we stopped to have our first, (but not last!) visual introduction to some different poison ivy plants. It is VERY hard to identify until you have practiced a lot. Some of it was big, some small. Some plants were dark green and others were light green. A few leaves had large, deep, “teeth” on the edges, while others had almost no jagged edges at all. One of the kids asked, quite exasperated, how are we supposed to know what it looks like if it always looks different? All I could do was laugh and agree with her that it is VERY HARD to know! We just have to keep practicing.
We met at least 3 toads today, each apparently living in a small burrow formed at the base of a tree! There was some talk of uniting them, as a few kids felt certain the toads were sisters. Whiel this may be so, I did have the toads returned to their original “home” once we were done admiring them. I was glad I gave the pre-amphibian-handling pep talk about making sure to get our hands VERY dirty/muddy before handling these sensitive animals! They drink and breathe through their skin, so when we touch them with left over hand sanitizer, lotion, soap, bug repellent, sunscreen, or even just our own natural skin oils, we are causing them harm. We also had a talk about not killing spiders or daddy longlegs either, since they will not hurt us and are actually quite helpful.
Mrs. Webb and the group who were nearest her discovered a stunning, metallic, green, beetle on a log. I had seen these before but never knew what they were, so tonight I looked them up using iNaturalist and discovered they are “common tiger beetles.” Well! There was nothing common about this little creature! Apparently they come in different metallic colors and patterns. I can’t wait to tell the kids about them tomorrow!
When our timer went off I used our new chime (courtesy of a parent from our first group!) to call the kids over to the Meeting Log where I introduced nature journaling and gave them all their own journals and colored pencils. Most of the kids did at least a little bit of drawing and/or writing in their first page. We will hold onto these for them until our last day when they will be able to take them home. A few of the kids were interested in using the scavenger hunt cards and they went in search of the places and things that I photographed to make the cards.
It was a busy morning and we are all so excited to find out what tomorrow will bring! We are also crossing our fingers that it won’t bring any thunder and lightning because we have no indoor shelter available at Camp Rockford. As of the writing of this entry, the forecast calls for rain but the storms look like they won’t happen until the afternoon when we are all done for the day.