Wednesday, February 9, 2011

We are naturalists, we are animal trackers!

We finally made it on our field trip this week. We had been snowed out three previous attempts.

We went to the Darien Nature Center.  Before the trip I spoke on the phone with the naturalist and explained what the interests of the children were and some of our questions.  She was excited that I was actually willing to take the children on a walk through the woods in the snow.  She doesn’t get many teachers willing to do that with their classes.  Of course I was willing!  We wanted to explore the snow and hunt for tracks. 

We came prepared with our web of questions.  We also brought along our science journals to do some sketching. 

The naturalist, Ioa, showed us live animals first.  A rabbit

two kinds of turtles,

a snake

and a ferret. 

The children really enjoyed petting the animals.  They were actually able to explain quite a bit about hibernation to our naturalist.  She helped us narrow down the animals that could have actually eaten our homemade birdfeeders, by talking about which animals lived near us and which ones would be out in this kind of weather. 

We were able to spend some time in the “zoo” room which houses many other animals. 

Unfortunately due to time constraints, we weren’t able to stay in the room and sketch as Ioa had another class coming in for a tour.  She was actually worried about the children walking in the woods since the snow had gotten quite deep and with the rain we had had a few days earlier, didn’t think we would see much in the way of tracks. 

Not one to divert easily from a good emergent learning experience….I forged ahead with my crew into the woods.

It was amazing!

Not only did we see many, many tracks, but we saw evidence of animals crawling out of burrows under the snow.

We could see tracks from tree to tree.  We could see where animals hopped up to a stream to get water.  I could hear exclamations of, “look at those tracks”, “a squirrel was here”, “and I think a bunny made those”.  It was first hand learning about animal tracking.  We were “reading the stories in the snow” as the naturalist had just explained to us moments ago.  The pages of the books we had been reading were coming alive before our very eyes.  The excitement of the children and the parent chaperones was palpable.

When we returned to school, we immediately sat down to do some memory sketching in our science journals and record our thoughts of the trip. 

On this day, we were naturalists, we were trackers and we were doing incredible learning through our play.

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