Search This Blog

Monday, November 24, 2014

And the group grows...

We are so excited to announce that we had a new student join the class this week! We are so happy to to see the class grow.

To start off our very chilly day, we decided to figure out just how cold it was. We put our thermometer outside while we got ready for the morning and were shocked to learn that it was 29 degrees outside!
We made a stop by our class tree "Swampy Jeanne" to make her a blanket of leaves to protect her during her first winter. Mrs. Alison told us a story called "Stone Soup" and we decided that we were going to make our own version of stone soup! We gathered all sorts of ingredients from nature and made a delicious soup before returning to the warmth of the barn for some homemade bread. 

Inside we reviewed the "Tree Factory" activity from last week and enjoyed pretending to be tall oak trees! We read a story about a little acorn that grew into a tall tree called "In a Nut Shell" by Joseph Anthony and then made our very own felted acorns to take home.
 Towards the end of class we started making our Tree Field Guide to add notes, sketches, and leaves to as we identify them this week. Here they are hard at work! 
Check out our Fall themed nature table! It is full of cool items we have collected over the past couple weeks.
"From little acorns mighty oak trees grow."

Monday, November 17, 2014

How old is this tree?

To start off our mild November morning, we took a hike on Riverbend's "Jack in the Pulpit" trail along Saw Mill Run. The class really loves this trail; they find it mysterious because the past couple times we have hiked it the weather has been foggy and wet. It is such an amazing place to visit the trees with its beautiful tall Tulip Poplars and Maples. We stopped a couple times along the way to feel different bark textures and do some bark rubbings in our journals. Due to erosion along the stream , we were able to see intricate root systems. 
 The class loves Tulip Poplar leaves! They call them "cat face leaves" and we just can't resist turning into a pack of cats when we find them, purring and clawing at each other in a fit of giggles.

On our hike, we found a large fallen tree and counted the rings to figure out its age. It was over 61 years old! We wondered about all the things that tree might have seen over the years.
We filled our bodies with warm granola and pumpkin muffins for snack (thank you Jonathon and Amy!) and read "Tess's Tree" by Jess Brallier. An adorable book about a little girl and her favorite tree. After reading the story, we brainstormed why trees are important. They decided trees were important for climbing and swinging, as animal homes, to make tables, chairs and houses, to build fires and for breathing. All very important things!

We met our guest speaker Mrs. Jeanne Angell to learn more about trees and to plant our very own class tree. We planted a Swamp White Oak and they named it "Swampy Jeanne" after Mrs. Jeanne. 
 When teaching about trees it is easy to show children the bark, roots, branches and leaves but to learn about the innards of a tree is a different story. I wanted them to become the tree! To do this we did a"Tree Factory" activity where they use their bodies to act out different parts of the tree. We talked about the heartwood, the xylem, the phloem in addition to the roots, the bark, and the leaves. For each part of the tree there was a sound and hand motion attached that was repeated. It was quite the tree symphony! 

To work on our math skills, we examined tree cookies and estimated the ages of the tree by counting the rings. We imagined that we were trees and drew our life as a wood cookie in our nature journals. 

A day isn't complete with out a little fun in the leaves!
"Time spent amongst trees is never wasted time." 
-Katrina Mayer

Monday, November 10, 2014

Trees, Trees, Trees!

Last class we started our unit on trees and we had such a great time! Trees are vital to all life on earth. They provide important habitats for animals, they provide oxygen, they provide food and shelter, and so much more! 

There are many different types of trees in all different shapes and sizes, so to start out we focused on make observations about different tree shapes. Using our tree shape necklace, we were able to categorize most trees into groups based on their overall shape. We noticed that some trees are tall and oval, some are shorter and circular, some are tear drop shaped and some are triangular. 

Along the way we stopped to play with some Milkweed seeds and found a Praying Mantis! 
After reading "Are Trees Alive?" by Debbie S. Miller and learning about the different parts of the tree, we continued our hike to examine different barks. Beech trees have very smooth bark while Oak trees have thick rough bark full of ridges and valleys and Tulip Poplar bark is more braided. We examined fungus and lichen growing on bark an even enjoyed playing on the trees as well! 

To wrap up our morning, we spent some time make observations about branches and sketched them in our nature journals. Next week we will continue our unit on trees!