Oaks News from the Wild #15

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If I had to choose one word that sums up what we do at Audubon, it would be

connections

We connect children to nature. We teach about the connections in nature. But also, we connect children to each other. We all live together on this planet. We share a place and a responsibility to each other. That’s what it means to be human, whether you are 5 or 50.

As I look at the pictures from our last two weeks, I see these connections so strongly. And as hard as it is to say farewell to children who will be moving on, I know we will always be connected to each other through this shared experience.

Team bird id

We’ve spent the past three weeks learning about birds. In addition to a person of the day, we introduced a Bird of the Day. We learned their calls, where they nest and what they eat. Knowing the most common birds adds strands to our human-nature web – suddenly the chirps, tweets and trills become not just pleasant background music, but old friends. “I heard tea kettle, tea kettle, tea kettle! It’s the Carolina Wren!” And the birds cooperated, with close-up encounters with pileated and downy woodpeckers, a wren nesting in the box on the Oaks play-yard, and of course the daily joy of watching our chicks grow up.

At Hilltop Home and on the Play-yard, the Oak’s cooperative play shows connections in action. Shared ideas, goals, stories, language, and skills. Constant negotiation, problem-solving and team-work.

Drawing and writing happen everywhere – they feel the power of putting their ideas down on paper, of making their mark.

We made a list of our favorite places at Woodend, so we would be sure to visit them all in the last two weeks of school. Right at the top of the list is the Creekbed. The Oaks LOVE the water, and the rains were welcomed  with whoops of joy. “It’s FLOWING!!! The creek is flowing!!!”

Connections – to each other and to nature. And stories to tell.

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Birds we learned

Robin

Cardinal

Blue Jay

Carolina Wren

House Sparrow

Mourning Dove

Downy Woodpecker

White-breasted Nuthatch

Chickadee

Some books we read:

Have You Heard the Nesting Bird? by Rita Gray

The Seven Ravens by Jacob Ludwig Carl Grimm

The Six Swans by Jacob Ludwig Carl Grimm

Tasty Baby Belly Buttons by Judy Sierra

Rumplelstiltskin by Paul Zelinsky

And many other informational books about birds and too many other books to count : )

Songs we sang

The Playground Gate

I saw a (name of bird) at the playground gate

That (robin) was my playmate.

That (robin) said, “Cheerup, cheerily, chirrup, cheerily, cheerily, chirrup!”

Robin Redbreast

Robin redbreast, crow flying round

Nuthatch hopping down the tree

Chickadee, dee, dee, dee, dee!!

 

 

 

 

The Detective Post #16

Chirp, caw, tweet! All around Woodend, birds have been making their songs heard, and the Detectives have been immersed in a study to figure out who’s who!

From cardinals to bluejays, robins to wrens, the Detectives have been heading into nature to listen to the calls, peek at our feathered friends, and record which birds we’ve seen.

Bird Explorers

Equipped with binoculars and tip-toe feet, the Detectives made their way into the woods to find birds and bird clues. Bird boxes dotted along meadow pathways provided opportunities for us to make observations about a variety of building materials. One box revealed a lush mossy nest, and we imagined what the soft interior would feel like. Another was filled with a nest of twigs; “This one looks different!” announced one child. “How did they get the twigs inside?” wondered another.

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A pile of fresh wood shavings by a tree snag led us to the discovery of a different type of bird home. Following the clues, the Detectives looked high into the snag and were excited to find two perfectly round holes! A pair of red-bellied woodpeckers were hard at work taking up residence. The Detectives quietly watched, waiting for one to pop its head out and offering the occasional woodpecker call to coax it out. We made guesses about what could be inside the tree, with some imagining eggs, and some wondering what a baby woodpecker might look like!

A different day brought a close encounter with another woodpecker- the pileated woodpecker! As the Detectives quietly moved closer to this large bird, they were able to see its strong beak poking into decomposing logs. What might it be eating, they wondered? Would there be worms in a log, or seeds? Could it be searching for decomposers? Examinations into decomposing logs allowed us to look closely and make our own discoveries about what the bird might be finding.

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Baby Chicks!

Inside, we welcomed our own feathered friends into the world and our classroom. After weeks of waiting, our chicken eggs- kept warm in the incubator- were finally ready to hatch.

We watched excitedly as the baby birds made their first cracks in the eggs, and listened to the sound of peeping coming from inside. We were excited as we watched two, then four, and finally five chicks break out of their eggs, fluff up their feathers, and prepare for life outside the egg. With gentle hands and kinds words, the Detectives held the babies and tenderly cared for them, providing food, names, and love.

Salamander Eggs and Babies

The study into birds and their eggs allowed us to draw comparisons between different sizes, shapes, and colors of eggs. Still, they all had one thing in common: their tough exterior that provided protection to the baby inside. So when we discovered a bundle of  soft, jellylike eggs marooned on a mud patch by the pond, we knew that they must belong to someone other than a bird. But who? We recalled the animals that we’ve seen near the pond- frogs, toads, salamanders. Could one of these have laid the eggs?

After gently returning one egg bundle to the safety of the pond, we carefully placed one in a bucket and brought it to the classroom for observation. We looked at pictures of frog and salamander eggs and using clues- the presence of a stick and the thick jelly surrounding each egg- hypothesized that we had happened upon salamander eggs. Days passed as we observed the tiny black specks inside the jelly transform into black lines, and eventually what resembled little black C’s. Then one day as we peered into the bucket, we saw them: tiny baby salamanders!

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The Detectives celebrated the excitement, looked at the babies with magnifying glasses, and then joyously returned them to their home in the pond. We had seen the life cycle in action, from finding grown salamanders under logs to discovering their eggs in the pond and seeing the babies hatch from those eggs. After a gentle goodbye, we eagerly looked forward to possibly seeing the salamanders, grown, again next Spring.

As the birds continue to sing and as new birds hatch in their cozy nests, we look forward to hearing, seeing, and exploring with them!

Sneak Peak:

Next week we will be ponding!

Weekly Top Hits

The Egg (First Discovery Book) by Pascale de Bourgoing

In The Nest by Anna Milbourne

Whose Chick are You? By Nancy Tafuri

Duck in the Truck by Jez Alborough

Counting is for the Birds by Frank Mazzola Jr.

Songs We Sang

Beaks, Feathers and Wings (Head, Shoulders, knees and toes)

Beaks, Feathers and wings, and wings!
Beaks, feathers and wings, and wings,
Hollow bones help us to fly,
Beaks, feathers and wings, and wings!

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Oaks News of the Wild #14

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What a magical spring the Oaks class has been enjoying!

Magical Tales

We have been reading magical tales (fairy tales and folk tales) indoors and out, and magical play abounds.  From mystery eggs, several baby dragons and unicorns have emerged.  The children have created dragon lairs and imaginary settings for magical creatures and royal folk, and they have dressed up and become those characters  The kids have also been working in pairs to create their own amazing magic tales and to perform their puppet shows for audiences on the playground.

On the Playground

Water Play!

Hot days call for getting wet!

Around Woodend

Spring Has Sprung!  Flowers are blooming, animals are out and about, birds are building nests, and the stream even has some flowing water from time to time.

The children have been enjoying splashing in the creek, finding critters, releasing our young wood frogs and newly emerged praying mantis babies, reading wonderful books outdoors, drawing imaginative pictures, and all sorts of adventures all around Woodend, including at our beloved Hilltop Home.

In the Classroom

The children’s creativity abounds inside the classroom. Building and drawing, often in collaborating with with friends. are favorite activities.

Planet Pals

We celebrated Earth Day (and Earth Month!) with a parade with the afternoon preschool class, complete with kid-designed planet pal puppets, fun songs and hand-made instruments.

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Guest Teachers

Carol, Nancy and Caroline continue to enrich the children’s experience at school through their warm guidance, nature expertise and mindfulness activities.

A Visit from “The Bug Lady#

Kay, the Bug Lady, visited the Audubon Nature Preschool, delighting the children with a variety of interesting insects.

Miniature Parks

The children worked in small groups to design miniature parks (for fairies and other little creatures) and create maps for visitors.

Garden Visits

We worked with Jenny at the Children’s Garden to begin planting a three sisters’ garden inspired by a Native American tradition.  We made mounds of soil (“volcanoes”, buried fish heads and planted popcorn!  We also checked on our peas and greens and measured the growth of the plants.

We visited the Blair Native Plants Garden again, and each child drew another picture of their chosen plant in their spring garden journal.

Birds, Birds, Birds!

We began our bird unit this past week, and the wild birds cooperated perfectly.  On the first day of this new investigation, we discovered a Carolina wren nesting in the birdhouse on our playground with 5 tiny eggs, and we watched a pileated woodpecker as it traveled all around our lunch spot.

Incubating Eggs & Our 5 Little Chicks

On the morning of May 1st, after incubating for 21 days, our 5 little chicks hatched from their eggs.  We were able to witness some pipping and unzipping their shells.  Throughout the morning, they emerged one by one.  We are in love!

Books We’ve Read

As always, we have been reading lots of books inside and outside.  We have enjoyed many magical tales including classic fairy tales and stories of adventures with dragons.  We have also been perusing information books about birds.

Songs We’ve Sung

Over the past few weeks we have sung songs about fairy tales, dragons, planet pals, birds and more!

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