The Detective Post #13

Spring time has stumbled upon the Nature Detectives here at Woodend! With days full of sunshine, rain and snow, we got to enjoy the last wisps of winter while looking ahead to warmer weather! We observed new plants emerging, birds returning, as well as how the rain and snow effected our creek beds and pond.

Since the Detectives have become experts at being outdoors during school hours, we decided to examine what we might need to stay outdoors at night! With lots of evidence of nocturnal animals all around us, we compared and contrasted what we might need to help us camp! We met our old friend, Felicity Felt, who helped the detectives brain storm gear they might need to bring with them while camping.

We were excited to share our ideas on camping with our Naturalists as well! In the AM class, Ms. Julie taught us more about nocturnal animals, letting the students examine skunk fur before leading a hunt for stripes and spots in the woods! The PM class heard tales of Ms. Gail’s year long, bicycle camping trip around the world! She brought in photos of her trip, as well as gear she had used to camp in all different countries across the globe. What fun!

Despite not getting to hold our campfire at the end of the week due to winds, the students still visited Audubon’s campfire ring and collected different sized sticks with which to create a fire. We discussed that just like cooking, fire needs its own ingredients to be created, as well as how to stay safe when toasting treats!

Inside the classroom, campsites emerged in every interest area! The students went on daily camping trips in dramatic play, as well as built their own tents in the block area. Every student also made a journal entry about what they might bring camping, it was so amazing to see their thoughtful and creative responses!

Since our campfire had to be rescheduled, we took to the woods instead for a story hike! We read the story, We’re going on a Bear Hunt, before taking to the trails to try and spot five bears hidden in the forest!

Indoors, we used instruments to recreate all the noises from the story, before enjoying the different habitats of the story in our interest areas around the classroom!

The classes enjoyed visits from Ann-Mari and Susan during our camping unit! Ann-Mari read the AM students one of her favorite stories titled, We were Tired of living in a House, while Susan brought the PM students camping gear to explore!

On our hikes, we couldn’t help but notice the buds returning on branches, the snow drop covered grounds, as well the return of our American robins! With Spring time upon us, we embarked on an investigation of spring clues around Woodend. However, this would quickly be put on pause due winter’s final snow gust!

One SUPER exciting sign of spring has been our discovery of salamanders around Woodend! We uncovered a beautiful, yellow spotted salamander hanging around our pond! Salamanders lay their eggs in water during the spring, so discovering one by our pond was a very exciting sign of spring for the detectives! We revisited her log, discovering her over a few days, before finding she had moved on to a new spot! We also discovered a leadbacked salamander another log later in the week, further propelling our interest in our amphibian friends!

Indoors, we learned a new salamander song, as well as created salamanders to sit on top of our spring celebration crowns! To prep for the party, the students also created coffee filter rain drops as decorations.

Spring had other plans however, ushering in days of cold rain and snow! While we postponed our spring celebration, the Detectives had lots of fun experimenting with rainy day soups and snowball creations!

Books we Read

Night Lights by Susan Gal

S is for Smores by Helen Foster James

Bailey goes Camping by Kevin Henkes

We were tired of living in a House by Liesel Moak Skorpen

We’re going on a Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen

And Then its Spring by Julie Fogliano

The Salamander Room by Anne Mazer

Weekly Top Hits

The Camping Pokey

You put your tent up,

You put you tent down,

You put your tent up,

and you gather all around,

You do the camping pokey and you turn yourself around,

That’s what its all about!

(Shine your flashlight up, shine your flashlight down)

(Move your marshmallow up, move your marshmallow down)


I’m a Little Salamander (I’m a little Teapot)

I’m a salamander with spots on my back,

See if you can find me, I’m pretty hard to tack!

When the spring is here I go to the pond,

to lay my eggs now that the cold is gone! 

Spoiler Alert: When we come back from break we will be learning about bugs!


Oaks News of the Wild #11

During the past 2 weeks, the Oaks class enjoyed daily excursions into the wild and lots of time for creative play, plus a trip to an art show a the mansion, a day in Rock Creek Park, a visit from a corn snake, the 100th day of school, a camp fire with families, and more!zB4KBghPTu+M6rOq22opHw

Outdoor Adventures

After a very windy weekend, the children were excited to discover a fallen tree next to Hilltop Home.


We took hikes all around Woodend, including the pond and the children’s garden. We enjoyed a nature math activity with our fabulous intern (Meredith) and enjoyed another visit with Cosi, a goldendoodle belonging to one of the teachers.


Playground Fun


Rock Creek Park

The class spent one full day outside exploring Rock Creek Park, adding to our map and knowledge of the area.  Together we enjoyed another chapter of The Night Fairy, played at the Purple Playground, climbed a huge hill and had a picnic lunch in the woods.


A Visit from a Corn Snake

One of our fabulous master naturalists, brought a snake to the Oaks classroom.  Nancy arrived at school singing “I’m Being Swallowed by a Boa Constrictor!”  We got to touch the snake, learn about it, and watch it make its way through a maze to get to its food.  This experienced tied into our animal project in which we were learning about how animals including how they move and what they eat.



Classroom Experiences

The children continue to enjoy playing and engaging in various projects while in the classroom.  In the photos you can see children engaged in creative play, building activities, math activities with manipulative, intricate constructions, reading books and telling stories, imaginative and detailed drawing work, collaborative storytelling with toy ninjas, making clay creatures, decorating toy snakes,  caring for our seedlings, and enjoying a special snack for the 100th day of school, and more!


Mindfulness Lessons

We are very fortunate to have a parent lead weekly mindfulness lessons.  Through books and activities, we are learning to use our mindful bodies, eyes and ears.  We have practiced different breathing techniques and are learning how to understand and manage our emotions.

Art Show

The children were mesmerized by the nature art show at the mansion.

Family Campfire

We enjoyed a wonderful Friday night campfire with families.  We enjoyed each other’s company and cooked hotdogs over the fire.  We gathered together singing the song “Flicker” and told the story of “How Animals Got their Tails.”  After that, we roasted marshmallows and snacked on s’mores.  What fun!

Some Books & Stories We’ve Read

The Night Fairy (chapter book)

The Hat

Inch by Inch

“How Animals Got their Tails”

“Lion at School”

The Detective Post #12

Stomp stomp ROAR! The Detectives came back from the classroom to be greeted by some oversized, stomping reptiles: the dinosaurs! Through digging, observing, and of course, playing, we explored connections between the dinosaurs long ago and the plants, fossils, and animals that we see today.

We began our investigation by thinking about what we already know about dinosaurs. We heard lots of museum connections, tales of dino storybooks, and ideas about dinosaur toys. After plenty of thoughts and roars, we all reached a conclusion: we have never seen a real live dinosaur! How, then, do scientists learn about dinosaurs? We set out to answer the question.

The Detectives learned about fossils, and how scientists can use these to investigate creatures from long ago. Complete with our own paleontology dig site in the classroom, we uncovered bones, carefully dusting off sand to reveal the dinosaur underneath. We talked about how fossils formed, and even created our own bubbling volcano. Heads Up: lava alert!

While we learned about the dinosaur clues left from long ago, we kept returning to one question: do we still have a connection to our dinosaur friends? The answer? Yes! We learned about living fossils- ferns, moss, dragonflies, ants- creatures and plants that lived among the dinosaurs. Carrying miniature toy dinosaurs, we stomped through the forest on search of these living fossils and imagined what it might be like to be a dinosaur stomping through the same woods millions of years ago.

We learned about the dinosaurs’ habitat, and discussed how dinosaurs, like all reptiles, were cold-blooded creatures. In order to understand a bit more about reptiles, we dove into an investigation, meeting not one, not two, but THREE reptile friends here at Woodend!


The Detectives spent time investigating Boris the tortoise, Sunny the bearded dragon, and Stormy the snake, and made connections between the various reptiles and the dinosaurs that used to walk the land.  We felt Boris’s shell, and thought about how it helped to protect her. We made connections to dinosaur skeletons, and how the plates and crests or certain dinosaurs would also work to protect them. In comparison, Sunny was covered in spikes and had a strong tail for protection. “Just like stegosaurus!” exclaimed one child. “Or ankylosaurus!” said another.  We thought about what all of these reptiles would eat, noting the differences in diet between the herbivorous tortoise, omnivorous lizard, and carnivorous snake, and the Detectives discussed how these compared to the different diets of their dinosaur ancestors.


These connections extended not just to reptiles, but also to our feathered friends, the birds! The Detectives spent time thinking about how all of these creatures build nests to lay eggs in, and even imagined what these nests might look like. Nests small and large, built from blocks, filled the classroom along with exclamations about dinosaurs hatching from eggs!


After hearing about so many different types of dinos- two-legged, four-legged, feathered, and scaly- the Detectives imagined dino creations of their own. Pictures were drawn to depict the diosaurs along with their diets, habitats, and other fun facts. Dinosaurs of all shapes and sizes, from the ferocious Chicken-Nugget Eating dinosaur to the oversized Tree-Crane dinosaur now line the classroom walls in our very own dinosaur museum exhibit!

Weekly Top Hits

Baby Dinosaur (Itsy Bisty Spider)

The little baby dinosaur climbed up to the top,

Of a Volcano that was ready to pop!

Down came the lava so very, very hot,

And the little baby dinosaur ran home without a stop!


Willaby Wallaby (Dino remix)

Willaby, wallaby wou,

A dinosaur sat on you,

Willaby, wallaby wee,

A dinosaur sat on me!

(Insert names for Dino rhyming fun!)


Books We Read

If the Dinosaurs Came Back by Bernard Most

What Happened to Patrick’s Dinosaurs? By Carol Carrick

Tadpole Rex by Kurt Cyrus

Dinosaurs Don’t have Bedtimes! By Timothy Knapman

T is for Terrible by Peter McCarty

An Egg is Quiet by Dianna Austen

Dinosaur Bones by Bob Barner


Sneak Peek: Next week, we will be thinking about camping! 

Oaks News from the Wild #10

What fun times the Oaks class has had in different kinds of weather- rain, ice and sunshine- all in a 2 week period!  We are even beginning to see some signs of spring.

Playground Fun

When the temperature got below freezing, the kids had a wonderful time playing with the ice on the playground.  One day we got out magnifying glasses and directed the sunlight to melt a hole in a piece of ice.


Dog Day with Cosi

Julie’s dog, Cosi, came to visit the Oaks playground one Friday.  What fun the kids had throwing the ball for her to catch and patting her soft fur.  We read lots of fun books about dogs that day.

Woodend Walks

Every afternoon we walk and explore different parts of Woodend.  We went on our winter journey stick hike, collecting little mementos from nature.

As you see above, the class worked hard to build a bridge across the creek bed after a nice rain fall.  What great team work and problem solving skills!

Rain and Mud Play

We were excited to get some rain and enjoyed water in the creek bed and mud puddles all around.

Rock Creek Park 

The Oaks class when to Rock Creek Park for the second time.  We used a map and noticed landmarks (and stomped in puddles) along the way.  We enjoyed a snack and story and explored a new area for us- a peninsula in the creek with sliding and climbing hills, animal tracks, a praying mantis egg case, and lots of water and mud to enjoy.

While in Rock Creek Park, we read the beginning of chapter 6 in A House at Pooh Corner about the game of pooh sticks.  After the story, the kids found sticks of all sorts and sizes, tossed them off one side of the bridge, and watched them come out from the other side.

Our Mapping Unit


Valentine’s Day

On February 14, we celebrated love and kindness.  We enjoyed a special snack that included heart shaped cookies and Love Potion # 9 (banana and berry frozen drinks), read the book Plant a Kiss, and make cards for others.  We also finished making our kindness rocks and placed them in special spots on the grounds of Woodend (making the locations on our map).

The Animal Project

We continued our animal project, including learning about the life cycle of animals.  We sang songs and learned about the life cycle of penguins, squirrels and frogs as well as each of the children’s chosen animals.

Nancy lead a game about the life cycle of a frog and told the hilarious story of “The Wide Mouth Frog.”

Classroom Experiences

BOOKS We’ve Read

We read books on the playground, inside the classroom and in locations around Woodend.  Here are some of the whole group read alouds from the past 2 weeks.

As the Crow Flies (Mapping)

Winter Walk

Plant a Kiss

Draw the Line

Always in Trouble (a book about a dog like Cosi)

One Smile

The House at Pooh Corner by A.A. Milne.  Chapter 6 “In Which Pooh Invents a Game and Eeyore Joins In”

SONGS We’ve Sung

“Life Cycles”

“A Ram Sam Sam” adapted to include each of the kids’ chosen animals as we gather for our morning circle

A ram sam sam, a ram sam sam
Guli guli guli guli guli ram sam sam

A ram sam sam, a ram sam sam
Guli guli guli guli guli ram sam sam

A rafi, a rafi
Guli guli guli guli guli ram sam sam

A rafi, a rafi
Guli guli guli guli guli ram sam sam

“Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes”  with different versions for each of the kids’ chosen animals developed with the person of the day

Ex:  Stingray (with gestures)

Body, flippers and long tail, long tail.

Body, flippers and long tail, long tail.

It has a spine with venom inside.

Body, flippers and long tail, long tail.

“Boom Chicka Boom” with adaptations for each of the kids’ chosen animals as we celebrate the person of the day.  This is a call and response chant

I said a boom chicka boom.  (I said a boom chicka boom.)

(Louder) I said a boom chicka boom.  (I said a boom chicka boom.)

I said a boom chicka rocka chicka rocka chicka boom. 

(I said a boom chicka rocka chicka rocka chicka boom. 

Uh huh. (Uh huh).  Okay (Okay).

Let’s do it again, the _______________ way.

Ex:  Let’s do it again, the stingray way.

I said a boom swisha boom.  (I said a boom swishy boom.)

(Louder) I said a boom swisha boom.  (I said a boom swisha boom.)

I said a boom swisha rocka swisha rocka swisha boom.

(I said a boom swisha rocka swisha rocka swisha boom.)


The Detective Post #11

The Nature Detectives finished off our fairies and gnomes unit with celebrations of love and rainbows! With our icy grounds turning to puddles, we also continued our exploration on water flow and what that looks like here at Woodend!

While the past two weeks were spent thinking about ways to be kind to ourselves and others, this week the students shifted their focus to kindness ideas for the earth around us! We embarked on a three day art project to spread our love of the earth to anyone who comes to visit Woodend! First, the students picked up rocks from our creek beds to bring back to the classroom. We then proceeded to paint our rocks, and write kind wishes for the earth on the bottom of each as a special surprise! Once they dried, each child got the chance to hide their kindness rock on the trails of Audubon, to spread our wishes of a clean earth to anyone who visits!


The rain and warmer weather furthered our interest in water and its many properties! The AM class enjoyed a hike to the compost stations and rain garden, where we learned about water conservation right here at Audubon! The PM class enjoyed a visit from Ms. Gail, who talked with us about the importance of clean water and took us to the pond to investigate!

On Wednesday we have a kindness and love party to celebrate all the things we have learned throughout our fairies and gnomes unit! The children worked together to create a “love potion,” (yogurt and strawberry smoothie) as well as edible toadstools out of apples and bananas! The students also had the chance to write love notes with the help of parent volunteers.

The PM class also enjoyed creating sparkly glitter magnets this week, while the AM class got a special outdoor painting project from Ann-Mari!

We continued our fairy fun indoors this week, by creating fairy dough out of hair conditioner and corn starch, adding toadstool and stump tunnels to our trains, and introducing a new fairy board game!

To finish out our lessons we learned about something magical that water can create- rainbows! The students experimented with water to try to create our own rainbows, as well as created recycled rainbows to hang in our classroom. In true fairy and gnome style, the PM class had quite the surprise! While getting ready for our closing circle at the end of the day, we spied a real rainbow in the sky above us- it was incredible! The students sang our newly learned Rainbows in my Bubbles song and danced under its colors! It was truly an amazing send off to round out our fairy and gnome fun at Audubon.


Weekly Top Hits
Rainbows in my Bubbles (She’ll be comin round the mountain)

I’ve got rainbows in my bubbles yes I do!

I’ve got rainbows in my bubbles yes I do!

When I look up towards the sun,

I see rainbows everyone,

I’ve got rainbows in my bubbles yes I do!

Books we Read

Rain Play by Cynthia Cotten

No, No, Gnome! by Ashlyn Anstee

A Fairy Friend by  Sue Fliess

Spoiler Alert: When we return to preschool next week we will be learning about dinosaurs!


The Detective Post #10

Gnomes abound! The Nature Detectives have been uncovering fairy magic and gnome homes all around Woodend the last few weeks. With roots in kindness to ourselves and those around us, the fairies have been leaving us notes with mindfulness tips, and we have been discovering different gnomes hiding on the trails of Audubon!

We kicked off our theme with a fairy treasure map designed by our very own Oaks class! The Oaks hid treasure all around our playground, and created a detailed map for the Detectives to follow and find the treasure!

The fairies left us notes throughout the weeks, outlining different mindfulness tricks we can use to be kind to our own bodies. We enjoyed an exciting visit from Boris the Tortoise, who showed us how she uses her shell to take a break from the world around her! We learned how to use our own “tortoise shells” (AKA child’s pose) to help calm down our bodies.

The fairies also introduced us to different types of magical breaths! We learned we can also use these magic tricks to slow down our bodies when having big feelings. We practiced the “take five,” “lion,” and “balloon” breaths, before using our magic breaths to create sparkly bubble art! We also created “emotion potions,” (aka calm down jars) that we used practice mindfulness.

The detectives uncovered both water and river gnomes in the Woods, learning that we can track how our bodies are feeling by checking in with our own “rivers!” Our “rivers” run fast, medium, and slow, which can correspond with running, walking, and being still! We learned a river song which accompanied creek bed exploration.


The pond gnome and colder weather lent itself to continued ice exploration! We experimented with breaking ice, as well as watching the chilly grounds melt into muddy fun!

In our stories, we noticed that fairies and gnomes are drawn with mushroom homes! The PM class enjoyed a fungi hike with Ms. Gail, learning about the different types of fungi we have here at Woodend. Indoors, we did a spore print experiments- leaving large mushroom caps overnight and discovering spore prints the following day!


The students also made kindness entries in their journals, brain storming ideas of how they are kind to those around them! We also practiced taking turns in the classroom as fairies in dramatic play, building withe zoobs, as well as creating our own gnome homes in the block area!


Weekly Top Hits

Deep and Wide

Deep and Wide, Deep and Wide,

theres a river flowing deep and wide!

Buh, da, da, da, da, da

Deep and Wide, Deep and Wide,

theres a river flowing deep and wide!


Books we Read

Rainbow Fairies by Nicola Baxtor

Pinkalicous: Fairy House by Victoria Kahn

Slop by Margaret Read Macdonald

The Rainbow Fairies by Daisy Meadows


Spoiler Alert: Next week will be finishing our fairies and gnomes unit!



The Detective Post #9

The frosted trails provided the perfect backdrop for the Nature Detective to conclude our study on nocturnal animals at Woodend! The frozen ground spurred lots of ideas- from measuring frozen tracks to experimenting with breaking ice. It was so fun to watch the Detectives discern and track different nocturnal animal clues on the snowy grounds- we couldn’t have asked for more perfect conditions to learn about our nocturnal counterparts!



We continued our exploration of the frozen pond, noticing the changes as things began to melt and re-freeze!


In the snow, we tracked different animals towards dens and along logs through the snow.


Both classes enjoyed trips to the flying squirrel feeder, leaving sunflower seeds on our feeder tray for the squirrels to munch overnight! We also set up our night vision trap camera, and while it didn’t snag a photo of a flying squirrel, we did get one of it’s daytime cousins!


We continued our exploration of nocturnal animal super senses inside the classroom! We discussed using a super sense of smell, creating different scented playdough between the classes.


We experimented with idea of a bats echolocation, setting up a “sound cave,”  where the students experimented with different instruments and their sounds.


We capped off our unit by having a nocturnal animal PJ party! We did glow in the dark painting, created a glow in the dark star lit room in the bathroom, and sharing ANP with our stuffy friends!



Books we Read:

Possum’s Harvest Moon by Anne Hunter

Eye Guess by Phyllis Limbacher Tildes

Whoo Goes There? by Jennifer A. Ericsson

Night Gliders by Joanna Ryder

Daft Bat by Jeanne Willis


Weekly Top Hits:

Flying Squirrel (I’m a Little Teapot)

I saw something in the sky,

It doesn’t fly, but it likes to glide,

Its a grey-brown furry kite,

Soaring around through the night!

Everything is Possum (Everything is Awesome)

Everything is Possum! Everything is cool when at night you can see,

Everything is Possum! When you live in a tree!

Everything is better when you dangle together,

Side by side, you and I,

Gonna play possum together, let’s stay safe forever!

Everything is Possum! Everything is cool when at night you can see,

Everything is Possum! When you live in a tree!


Spoiler Alert: Next week we are beginning our Fairies and Gnomes unit!