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.


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.


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!


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!


Oaks News of the Wild #14


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.


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!




The Detective Post #15

Rain and sun makes play fun! The Nature Detectives have been taking advantage of the spring weather with days full of puddle stomping, bridge building, seed planting and animal tracking!





With the blossoms and leaves emerging on the trees, the Nature Detectives launched into a full investigation of the plant life cycle. The students visited our compost stations, thinking about how the soil created from our decomposers adds nutrients for the seeds!


We held our own seed expirement- planting radish seeds in soil from our playground, the compost, and sand from our sandbox. The Detectives made their own hypothesis to which would sprout first, and were able to observe the plant growth over the next two weeks!


In our outdoor classroom, the classes worked on turning our garden beds, and adding soil from Audubon’s compost stations to prepare them for planting! Every student got the chance to plant lettuce, spinach and grass seeds in our garden beds! With the rainy weather, we have been excited to watch our plants sprout, and look forward to tracking their progress throughout the rest of the year.


Eggs abound at Woodend during the spring! Under logs, students discovered slug eggs, while in the pond we were excited to discover salamander eggs! Hiding by the pond we found another Yellow Spotted Salamander, and the Detectives were eager to investigate the differences between frog, toad, and salamander eggs, and figure out what type of amphibian eggs we had uncovered!



We have heard the birds calling all around us these past weeks, and were excited to notice nests in some of our bird boxes! The students were also able to examine eggs we found outside a nest, and create hypothesizes to how we think they arrived on the ground.


In celebration of Earth Day, the classes have spent almost our school days outdoors this past week! With our much needed rain, the students enjoyed creek stomps, working hard to build our, “muddy headquarters,” in the AM class, while the PM students worked hard on a bridge by the lookout.



The classes were visited again by our Planet Pal friends, this time meeting Squirmy Wormy and Recycle Girl! Squirmy reminded the students of the importance of natures recylcers (decomposers), while Recycle Girl taught the students about reusing bottles, paper and cans. We even visited Audubon’s large recycle bin by the mansion, and guessed what new items could be created by using our helping hands to pick up recycled items.


With recycling on the mind, each student was able to create their very own Planet Pal power cape out of recycled grocery bags! Each child decided on a superpower to help save the earth, which ranged from rainbows that picked up recycling, TreeGirl who helps seeds grow, to Captain Wind who uses his powers to clean up trash! To cap it off, the students transformed into their Planet Pal superhero selves, and sang some of our favorite Planet Pal songs to our friends up at the mansion.



You won’t believe, what we did today, you won’t believe, what we found! To end this last week, the AM detectives discovered a box turtle up by Audubon’s rain garden! We made a small habitat for it in our outdoor classroom, while researching facts about it in our classroom books. The PM classes was equally entranced, even digging up worms and other small bugs for our turtle friend to eat. It is amazing to watch the students self-led discovery around the animals we are so lucky to find here at Woodend.


Books we Read

Superworm by Julia Donaldson

Why should I Recycle Jen Green

Lola Plants a Garden by Anna McQuinn

Compost Stew by Mary Mckenna Siddals

Planting a Rainbow by Lois Ehlert

The Snails Spell by Joanne Ryder



Weekly Top Hits

This Old Earth

This Old Earth, Needs our help,

to stay fresh and clean and green,

with a pick it up, pitch it in, put it in the can,

this Old Earth needs a helping hand! 


I’m a Worm

I’m a diggly, squiggly worm!

And I like to squiggle and squirm!

But it might take me a while,

to crawl a half a mile,

through the compost in my pile!


Planet Pal Cheer

We are the Planet Pals,

the mighty, mighty Planet Pals,

Everywhere we go, people want to know,

who we are, so we tell them, 

We are the Planet Pals,

the mighty, mighty Planet Pals,

Gooooo Planet Pals! 


Spoiler Alert: Next week we will be learning about birds!

The Detective Post #14

Three cheers: Spring is here! The warmer weather has brought extraordinary change, and the Detectives have been busy taking it all in! From teeny insects to large swaths of flowers in the meadow, signs of the season have been found all around Woodend.


The Detectives returned from Spring Break ready to roll logs and find out what might be hiding underneath. We uncovered mud, new sprouts, and an abundance of crawly creatures! Each one lead to a new investigation, with Detectives making observations about the size, color, texture, number of legs, and more. We noticed that some had a few legs, some had no legs, and some even had too many legs to count! To celebrate the discovery of these crawly friends, the Detectives learned a song to help differentiate bugs from insects. To the tune of “Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes,” we imagined transforming into insects as we pointed out our head, thorax, abdomen, and six legs!


The discovery of these bugs and insects also jumpstarted an inquiry into why we should care for bugs. “Bugs are scary,” exclaimed one child, “and I don’t like them!” This led to a wonderful reflection into our own feelings about bugs. Why are they useful? Do they help us? We set out to find the answer!

The Detectives discussed the importance of bugs as pollinators, and took a visit to our bug hotel, hoping to get a look at some bees. We discussed how the bees move pollen from flower to flower, and even practiced this movement at our pond rug and on our playground.


Another day of log rolling brought us a family of bess beetles. As the Detectives gently held a beetle, they took note of its hard exoskeleton and the way its tiny feet tickled their hands. They also noticed holes dug into logs by the beetles, providing us with an opportunity to discuss the beetle’s role as a decomposer.

A visit to the compost station gave us an opportunity to talk about our decomposing food, and the worms’ role in helping to break down the food and make new soil. Thanks, worms!



After finding so many bugs and insects underneath logs, we were excited to continue our search at a different habitat: the pond! Equipped with nets, rain pants, and mud-stomping boots, the Detectives set out on a search for dragonfly larva and other aquatic creatures.

We practiced scooping and sifting as we closely searched the muddy water for signs of Spring. Of course, no ponding day would be complete without a little sticky mud action. We saw gross motor skills and teamwork out in full force as children worked to unstick themselves and others from the muck, as well as construct a bridge across the mud. Calls out “Log coming through!” rang out as groups of children navigated through the forest carrying long branches for building materials. The adventure ended with everyone caked in mud, and full of amazing memories!

Our bug and insect investigation was rounded out by a visit from a bug expert: Kay The Bug Lady! This in-house field trip brought even more bug excitement into the classroom, as children held creatures small and large, familiar and exotic! Empty cicada shells, giant millipedes, and even hissing cockroaches were passed around the rug; while some chose to hold these bugs and others chose to observe with their eyes, all of the children seemed in awe of these amazing bugs! What a wonderful way to end the week!

Books We Read

From flower to Honey by Robin Nelson
Hank’s Big Day by Evan Kuhlman
I Love Bugs! By Philemon Struges
Good Morning Pond by Alyssa Satin Capucilli
Bob and Otto by Robert O. Bruel

Weekly Top Hits

Dragonfly Life Cycle

Dragonflies have life cycles, yes they do!

Dragonflies have life cycles yes the do!

They lay eggs in the pond

Then they fly out later on

Dragonflies have life cycles, yes they do!


Head, Thorax, Abdomen

Head, thorax, abdomen, abdomen

Head, thorax, abdomen, abdomen

Two antenna and six legs

Head, thorax, abdomen, abdomen!


Spring is Here

I see robins, I see bird nests

Butterflies, flowers too

Everything is growing

The wind is gently blowing

Spring is here

Give a cheer…..HOORAY!


Never Ever Squash a Bug

Never ever squash a bug

They’re Mother Nature’s friend

Put them in a plastic jar

And let them go again!


Spoiler Alert: Next week, we will be planting seeds!

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!