This week the classes learned all about Ecosystems. After our core routines, we started off by coming up with a working definition of what Ecosystems are and how they connect all over the world. It was awesome to lean on the prior-knowledge of our students – we’ve got a clever bunch!
After our lessons, we threw on our scientist hat and headed for the field to make observations and record data. Our objective was to mark off a rectangular section of “ecosystem”, measure it and search for all living (biotic) and non-living (abiotic) things. The students jumped to the task with magnifying glasses in-hand and found some really cool things – robin eggs, insect eggs and nests, snails galore, mushrooms, and much more. After a “museum walk” to view everyone’s site, it was quite evident that there’s much more than meets the eye in a relatively small area.
After telling a legend, the afternoon had us exploring more ecosystems as we set out on a hike to the far edges of our property. More specifically, we were looking at the biodiversity between ecosystems, in the ecotones. It’s awesome what you can find when you slow down and take a look – the remains of a Northern Flicker, a Turkey nest, edible trout lilies, and that’s just to name a few.
You never know what you’re going to get at Forest School and different days saw many different things happen this week:
Students were really engaged with ring toss yet again. They also got a chance to become the food chain in a serious rock, paper, scissors competition. This group was the first group to discover the remains of the Northern Flicker (and they chose to leave the beautiful feathers there for the other groups to see – yay LNT principles and nature lovers!). A big portion of them also started work on carving projects, and as always enjoyed some time in their sit spots.
A really cool thing happened on Wednesday – during our exploration one of the students noticed his magnifying glass warmed up his hand. And from there we naturally had to make a fire from it. So we tried and lo and behold, the char cloth caught quick. So we tried other materials – paper, birch bark, tree resin, wood – to see what would happen. We eventually were able to make a fire only using the sun!!!
During a game of camouflage, this group also accidentally (and quite literally) stumbled upon a turkey nest. The mama turkey flew off and we quickly left the area in hopes that she’ll return.
Wow! What a hot day! So nice we even had to cool down in the spring, and had our first real day where we could take our shoes off this Spring. (And the lightning storms held off just for us!)
The students on Thursday jumped into the roles of Producers, Consumers and Decomposers for a better understanding of food chains. On a sadder note, we experienced this cycle first hand after discovering that our mallard nest was attacked by a hungry predator. We worked through these heavy feelings with the group and realized that this loss is an important part of the food chain. Soon after, we were treated when we discovered a healthy baby of another species – a snapping turtle!
Of course you may have noticed some stinky breath coming from your child after school this week… Tuesday we came across a Leek patch and of course the Wed and Thurs groups had to try!
Congrats to our bead recipients: 3 Leadership Beads, 2 Curiosity Bead, 3 Show and Tell, and 1 Craft bead (for homemade charcloth!)
Next week: Projects!!! We’re going to let our imaginations run wild.
Your Forest School Team (Matt, Kim and Krista)