Wednesday, February 20, 2013

An Unexpected Guest

A beautiful blue sky, winter day found Kim working in the garden.  I came outside to see what I could do to help and noticed something move just beyond where Kim stood.  A young hawk hopped to the ground and walked into the shrubs.  All of a sudden, several sparrows flew out of the bushes!  The hawk moved slowly out of the shrubs.  Look closely, the hawk has excellent camouflage. 
He then flew up to perch on the compost bin.  This gave him a good perspective as he searched for prey.
  He sensed Kim and I nearby and flew to the top of the Cedar Elm tree where he stayed for several minutes before flying off.

A Winter Garden Part II

Once the building activity was completed, we still had a large
pile of vines to address.  Since the children had demonstrated creativity by building the nests, I didn’t want to discard the vines.  With the habitat unit coming up in the next few weeks, I knew we could use them as building materials.
I asked the class how I could get the pile of vines into a shape that would allow me to tie a string around them to store them for a later time.  After some discussion, they decided that if it were in a “ball” shape, that I would be able to tie a string around it.
I asked how they could get the pile into a “ball” shape?    “We could roll it”.
So, roll they did.
They started by pushing on it to compact the pile.  Then they rolled it across the grass until it formed a large ball shape.
I wrapped string around the ball several times and pulled it tightly together.

Then the children carried the bundled vines over to the tunnel structure.  Working together, they hoisted the bundle up as I tied it to the railing.  We hung the vines up in the air so they would dry until we needed them again.

This simple work activity in the garden demonstrated problem solving, creativity, cooperation, and coordination.  It also provided an opportunity for the children to complete a task that was “real” work and gain pride in a job well done.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

A Winter Garden

Just because it is winter doesn’t mean that there is no work to be done in the gan. This time of year, the garden requires a lot of TLC. The children know that before spring planting begins, we must do a winter clean up.The tunnel is the first place that gets their attention. The Hyacinth Bean vine has died down, and the children worked together to pull the dead vines off the structure. It took a lot of upper body strength, as well as, cooperation to accomplish the task.


The vines were gathered into a huge pile, almost as tall as the children.  A conversation began as the children looked at the pile.  Some decided that it looked like a giant bird nest.  I suggested that they could use the vines to create a habitat for an animal. 

Several different nests were created.  Two classmates worked together to create a giant nest, big enough for them to stand in.
Several boys made a medium sized nest.

And the girls made two smaller nests.
This impromptu activity is a good introduction for our next project.
In the next few weeks, we will be exploring animal habitats to gain an understanding of the materials and construction techniques used by different animals. 

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Life's Simple Pleasures

Remember when trees were meant for climbing and piles of leaves were an invitation to jump?  Last week I recalled my youthful activities and my students created a few memories of their own.

 They raked the fallen leaves into a pile as we engaged in winter clean up in the garden.  One inspired boy demonstrated how to make "angels".  Who needs snow?!
 After the leaves were neatly gathered into a pile, I surprised them with the chance to run and jump into the pile.
Once everyone had their turn, we created a rainshower with the leaves. 
 You can see by the smiles that it was a great morning in the garden.

A little work and a lot of fun enjoying one of life's simple pleasures.