The Detective Post #8

The Detectives returned from our long break to be greeted by some chilly, wacky, Winter weather! Bundled from head-to-toe in cold weather gear, we set out to explore the changes around Woodend, and to observe all of the changes that Winter has brought our way.

One particularly cold day, with the frigid air tickling our noses and cheeks, we set out to explore one of Audubon’s most changing features: the pond! Upon our arrival, we were amazed to see not one drop of water; instead, sticks, rocks, and leaves lay on top of a white backdrop. The pond was frozen solid! After carefully testing the ice for safety, the Detectives stepped on and enjoyed an afternoon of skating and sliding. “I think I see a frogsicle!” exclaimed one child. Another shouted “Look at the bubbles frozen in the ice!” Mostly though, we heard the children collapsing into piles of giggles as they enjoyed their own winter wonderland.

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The wacky weather brought us some days where we were not able to be at school. Naturally, this led to lots of conversations: Who did you play with while you were away? What kind of fun adventures did you have? One of the most exciting questions launched us into our newest exploration: What were the animals doing at Woodend while we were away? We began thinking about the nocturnal animals that we have here, and about the ways that they spend their days.

To be able to be awake in the nighttime, we concluded, animals must have special super senses. The first animal we thought about, the raccoon, uses its five-toed feet for a super sense of touch! Mimicking the raccoon, we used our own sense of touch to explore, feeling the sticks, leaves, and icy ground around us. We searched for signs of raccoons around the pond, and even got a classroom visit from Chester the Raccoon!

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The following day, we began thinking about foxes, and learned about their super sense of hearing and smell! We imagined what their underground dens might look like, and thought about how they use their hearing and smell to decide which of their two “doors” they use to exit their den. A visit to our meadow fox den allowed the Detectives to search for the two holes of the den. Afterwards, back on the playground, we popped on fox ears and imagined ourselves as foxes as we crawled through a tunnel! “Tickle the top!” exclaimed one child. “It’ll sound like a rabbit running above me!”

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Our next nocturnal animal, the owl, flew in without a sound and gave us an opportunity to explore our sense of sight! We thought about the owl’s huge eyes and amazing vision as we headed into the woods, equipped with a list of pictures, to find various items on a Winter scavenger hunt. The children spied around, searching for various plants, tracks, and animals, and even has a visit from Owlbert the Owl.

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Back in the classroom, we enjoyed making animal tracks in playdough, singing nocturnal animal songs, and playing with various animals in dens.

A particular highlight has been hearing about the adventures of our two resident nocturnal animal stuffies, Chester Raccoon and Becca Bat! These two friends have been heading home with different Detectives each day, and then coming back to school for us to hear about their exciting nighttime adventures! We are so excited to hear about what fun they’ll get into next!

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Spoiler Alert: In the upcoming weeks, we will continue learning about nocturnal animals!

Books We Read:

Daft Bat by Jeanne Willis

I’ll Always be Your Friend by Sam McBratney

Songs We Sang:

 

I am Nocturnal: Fox Edition (Tune: You are Sunshine)
I love the night time,
The dark, black night time,
And that is when I sniff around,
I am nocturnal,
I love the nighttime,
‘Cuz I’m a fox,
I sniff without a sound!

I am Nocturnal: Owl Edition (Tune: You are Sunshine)
I love the night time,
The dark, black night time,
And that is when I swoop around,
I am nocturnal,
I love the nighttime,
‘Cuz I’m an owl,
I swoop without a sound!

The Detective Post #7

With Winter winds beginning to blow, the Nature Detectives have been observing the changing of the seasons all around us! From the abundance of crunchy leaves on the ground as opposed to the trees, to that bright winter sun, the preschoolers have been hoping for snow on a daily basis!

 

With the sunlight dimming and moonlight coming ever quickly, we finished off our Planet Pal unit by meeting Moonbeam, Sunny Ray and Starbright! The students were easily able to connect with the brighter winter Sunlight we were playing under, as well as discussing how we are all noticing that the moon is coming out earlier. The afternoon class was even able to observe the moon in its different phases, over our playground!

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On our Naturalist hikes, we also explored the ideas of sunlight and what might happen when the moon is out! Ms. Julie took the AM class on an animal track hunt, searching the mud in the pond for tracks that may have been left by animals during the nighttime! In the afternoon, Ms. Gail brought back her trusty measuring stick, and the Detectives took turns measure their heights in that winter sun! She showed the class different pictures of how our shadows change as we spin towards the sun throughout the day.

 

With the surprisingly warm sunlight, the PM class enjoyed a few all outdoors days, taking advantage of the preschool parking lots to experiment more with tracing our shadows. The AM class took the woods to their ever favorite, “Log Area,” where their planet pal super hero play was beautifully inspired by the backdrop of a bright, winter Sunny Ray

 

 

Indoors, the students also were kept busy by exploring more of the natural science behind our Planet Pal friends! At our meetings, we discussed that while Moonbeam is made out of rock which is a solid, Starbright and Sunny Ray are made out of gas! Since gas is invisible, we did an expirement where we mixed vinegar and baking soda together in a bottle, to which we then popped a balloon on top of the bottle to collect the gas! The students made lots of different hypotheses on what would happen to the balloon, and were all excited to see our Starbright balloon fill up with gas, just like it does up in the sky!

 

The classroom was also full of Planet Pal inspired play, from building Planet Pal headquarters in the block area, to experimenting more with the science aspects of orbiting with magnets in the lab table. We also did lots of hands on discoveries, creating stars and moons in the play dough, as well as using yellow shaving cream to create our own Sunny Ray inspired art!

 

We ended our Planet Pal unit with a scavenger hunt in the woods for all of buddies we have met over the last two weeks, followed by creating our very own Planet Pal class book!  On our hike, the students searched for Mother Earth, Breezy, H2O, Fluffy, Green Bean, Moon Beam, Sunny Ray and Starbright, using clipboards and charts to collect their findings. Indoors, the students had the chance to create their own Planet Pal, or write about their favorite one for our class book. It was so wonderful to watch their imaginations create new Planet Pals with our conversation ideas, and see them putting all of their science knowledge into action!

 

 

This past week at Woodend, we have been diving into what the different animals that call Audubon their home are doing to prepare for the coming winter weather! This past week we focused on the concepts of adaptation and migration.

 

We began the week by meeting a new animal fried- Bella the deer! Bella was dressed in warm winter clothes, which we all agreed was quite silly as we’ve never seen wild deer wear coats and hats! The Detectives thought of ways we adapt to stay warm, some ideas being: wear a warm coat, go inside, and enjoying hot chocolate! While those are things we might enjoy, we learned that deer adapt by growing warm coats and storing fat, as well as losing their antlers which take lots of energy to grow. To exemplify this idea, the Detectives experimented with an “Adaption Mitten,” which was a pretend mitten coated with a layer of Crisco to act as animal fat. The students were able to put one”Adaptation Mitten” on one hand, while the other stayed bare. The Detectives proceeded to put both hands into chilly water- observing that the “Adaptation Mitten” kept their hands nice and warm in the cold water!

 

The Detectives also took to the woods to play a deer antler hide-and-seek game! The students were able to take turns being a winter buck, and “lose” their antler in the woods for other students to find.

 

With less leaves on the trees, the birds have much easier to spy as pops of color up in the tree tops! We took to the woods to observe which birds are wintering here at Woodend, while others will migrate south to warmer weather. The students were also excited to leave sunflower seed out for the migrating birds, as they often take a stop off at Audubon to rest on their flight south! Indoors, we also created our own bird feeders with cereal and pipe cleaners to hang in trees.

 

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To prepare for our winter celebration, the Detectives capped off the week with pine cone hunt in the woods! We learned that some birds that winter here have just the right beaks for pecking into those pine cones for a tasty winter snack! Indoors, each student got the chance to decorate a pine cone with white snow and glitter, that will hang from the ceilings for our winter celebration.

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The students also enjoyed playing with trains indoors, as well as covering themselves in shaving cream snow! We also opened up a warm winter den in the dramatic play, as well as practiced building them in the block area.  The AM class also got to enjoy a felt board version of one of our favorites- It Looked like Spilt Milk, while Ms. Susan brought the PM class her giant map, where the students got to look at migration patters. The Detectives are rearing and ready to go to finish out our winter animal exploration next week and conclude with our exciting winter celebration!

 

 

Books we Read:

There’s No Place Like Space! By Tish Rabe

Planet Pals Book by the Nature Detectives

When It Starts To Snow by Phillis Gershator

Those Darn Squirrels Fly South by Adam Rubin

Crow in the Snow by Lesley Sims and Fred Blunt

Moon Cake by Frank Asch

 

Weekly Top Hits

Moon Moon Moon 

Moon moon moon shining bright

Moon moon moon my nightlight

Moon moon moon I can see

Moon moon moon you’re taking care of me

 

Look up it’s the moon

Look up it’s the moon

Look up it’s the moon up in the sky

It’s big and round and I have found

That it looks just like a pizza pie!

 

Sun Salutation Song 

Sun salutation, dance for the sun
sun salutation, dance for the sun
sun salutation, dance for the sun
I can do it,
you can do it,
we can do a sun salutation!
stretch up high -reach for the sky, hang down low – tickle your toes
feet jump back – just like a frog
belly on the ground – look toward the sun
now downward dog
and breathe, and breathe
feet jump up – just like a frog
hang down low – tickle your toes stretch up high – reach for the sky, now mountain pose – look what you’ve done (repeat)
sun salutation, dance for the sun
sun salutation, dance for the sun
sun salutation, dance for the sun
I can do it,
you can do it,
we can do a sun salutation!

Audio version: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V_SZ0A7iXA8

 

Winter Animals (She’ll Be Comin Round the Mountain)

Winter animals stay warm, yes they do!

Winter animals stay warm, yest they do!

They grow fat for adaptation,

Sleep long for hibernation,

and fly south for migration, yes they do!

 

Spoiler Alert: Next week we will be learning about hibernation and prepping for our Winter Celebration!

 

 

The Detective Post #5

How time has flown by! We are so thrilled to be getting the chance to sit down with all of you to discuss our adventures with your little ones. The Nature Detectives have been busy in the woods these last two weeks, rounding out our fall unit with squirrel dreys, less sunlight, and colder temperatures! With parent-teacher conferences this and next week, this post will be a picture rich documentation of our most recent adventures inside and outside the classroom. Enjoy!

Animal Dress up day was a blast! The Detectives were excited to take to the woods as their different, respective animals.

We enjoyed visits from Ms. Julie and Ms. Gail, learning about camouflage and owls!

Both classes enjoyed fall scavenger hunts in the woods, looking for some of our toy stuffies, as well as colored leaves, pumpkins, spiders and more!

We enjoyed some much needed rain- creating puddles for stomping and lots of water play ideas.

With the advent of daylight savings, we noticed less sunlight during our days, and more moonlit nights. The detectives took our parachute to the woods, pretending it was a moon, cut into many wacky tasting slices of moon pie!

The detectives were also introduced to two, larger scale outdoor games this week- What time is it Mr. Fox (or, What time is it Simon Squirrel), and Duck, Duck, Goose.

Indoors, we created squirrel drey’s in the block area, making snug, warm, winter homes for the toy squirrels.

With less daylight upon us, the Detectives enjoyed learning a silly song about the moon entitled Moon, Moon, Moon, loosely based on said song by the Laura Berkner Band. To accompany the song, we also learned a few sun, star, and moon inspired yoga poses!

The estimating jar returned last week, full of small, toy pumpkins! The detectives were excited to see the pumpkins resurface in our discovery table, where they were used to investigate cause and effect with the class scale.

The students also worked hard this week on creating their self portraits. Given mirrors and markers, the detectives created their visions of themselves!

We couldn’t round out a fall unit without breaking out a class favorite- Sneaky Snacky Squirrel! The students practiced turn taking and fine motor movements when embarking in this silly game to fill their stump with colored acorns!

Spoiler Alert: Next week we embark on our Planet Pals unit!

The Detective Post #4

News from the Outdoors

As the autumn leaves began to fall, the nature detectives took to the woods to search for seeds, fruits, and brightly colored leaves! As the school year has progressed, we have begun exploring deeper into the trails and wooded habitat that Woodend has to offer. We have continued our observational learning by comparing and contrasting different  sized acorns, to seeing how different leaves floated in our pond.

With the gorgeous fall days, the Detectives decided to spend a few days all outdoors! We did out meetings outdoors, and enjoyed tasty snacks on the stage. The students took art outdoors as well- creating squirrel puppets to scurry around the playground, along with drip-drop leaves with which to decorate our classroom!

Both classes enjoyed visits from our naturalists, Ms. Julie (AM) AND Ms. Gail (PM). Ms. Julie brought in her magnifying glasses, and the detectives took to the woods to investigate log dwellers. Ms. Gail brought in her giant measuring stick, and helped the detectives measure leaf lengths, as well as the rain fall in our pond. Both classes enjoyed seed/fruit hunts, where each child was given a bag to fill with seeds, fruits, and anything else falling from the trees that a squirrel might enjoy munching on!

As you can already tell, the Detectives were thinking a lot about squirrels with the advent of the fall weather!  Seeing them scamper around Woodend is very exciting, so we dug a little deeper into the science of squirrels and their food. We learned about the differences between red and grey squirrels, that while grey squirrels scatter their food and share it between friends, red squirrels hoard their food in one spot for the winter. The Detectives turned into squirrels on our hikes, collecting acorns and hiding them respectively, even hiding the treasure in our sand box like different colored squirrels!

On one of our all outdoors days, we introduced our estimating jar. This time, the jar was filled with- you guessed it- acorns! The students became squirrel detectives, each making a hypothesis to how many acorns could fit into our special jar. The guesses ranged from 1 to 131, after counting discovering 30 acorns fit just right.

One of the most exciting parts of our last few weeks at school has been all the construction happening around Woodend! We noticed the different machines around to build the new gates, as well as getting to see some tree workers taking down large branches! After some tree work was done in the woods, we noticed there were some new, fallen tree logs to balance on by our eagles nest. Both classes immediately jumped into action, clearing brush, rolling stumps, and building new forts in which to play! We organized many games of hide and seek, and even brought the toy squirrels out to practice balancing on the large logs.

News from the Classroom

With our multiple all outdoor days, we spent less time inside the classroom these last two weeks. Our indoor time was spent getting the classroom ready for our ever exciting- fall celebration!

Through our meetings and stories, we continued our fall exploration. The classes learned three new songs, I’m a Nut, Grey Squirrel and Falling leaves, which corresponded to our observations outdoors as well as our stories indoors.

Introducing our squirrel blocks to the block area gave the detectives a chance to practice that squirrel balance indoors as well as outdoors! After floating the fallen leaves in our pond outdoors, also introduced ideas of sinking v. floating in our lab table.

Noticing the different colored leaves outdoors, we conducted a leaf experiment with some Japanese Maple leaves inside the classroom! We used a coffee filter to extract different colors hiding inside the still green leaves. Upon checking the following day, we found brown and yellow stripes on our paper- who knew those colors were hiding under the green all along!

To top off this past week, we spent two days creating our very own acorn hats to sport at our fall celebration! To start off, every child rolled acorns and paint over brown construction paper to make the base of our hats. Once the paint had dried the following day, we cut our acorn art into strips, before stapling them together to create an acorn hat!

On our celebration day, every child got to be their very own acorn- and grow right in front of our eyes! We had such a blast singing, snacking and creating with all who were able to join, a huge thanks to everyone who helped out! Whenever grown ups and families are able to come to school is so special for the kids, we couldn’t have had such a successful celebration day without all of you!

Weekly Top Hits

Falling Leaves (Tune: Twinkle Twinkle Little Star)

Falling, falling, falling leaves

Mother Nature did you sneeze?

Red Ones, Yellow Ones, Orange and Brown

Swirling, Twirling, towrads the ground

Falling, falling, falling leaves

Mother Nature did you sneeze?

ACHOO!

 

I’m a Nut

I’m a nut (3x)

That’s me,

Gonna grow into a big oak tree,

I may be small,

but someday I’ll be tall,

wait and see!

 

Grey Squirrel

Grey Squirrel, Grey Squirrel, shake your bushy tail, (x2)

Use your paw to grab a nut,

Use your teeth to munch it up,

Grey Squirrel, Grey Squirrel, shake your bushy tail!

Detective Post #3

News From the Outdoors

Fall has officially made its debut at Woodend, and the Detectives have been busy noticing the changes that have marked its arrival! From collecting leaves and seeds to experimenting with fruits and thinking about a season of harvesting, the Detectives have been spotting clues in places both new and familiar.

We began our week by thinking about Fall harvests. What does it mean to harvest something? What types of plants might we harvest? …What better place to answer these questions than one where harvests are currently underway: Homestead Farms! Together with carpool buddies, the Detectives departed from Audubon and headed out to the farm to see where food is grown.

We heard about the needs and care of various farm animals, and even had some things in common with them. Piglets love apples, and goats enjoy going down slides- connection! After an exciting (and bumpy!) hayride around the farm, the Detectives arrived at the pumpkin patch and were each able to choose their own pumpkin. Each child searched for one that was just the right fit for them, and practiced responsibility by carrying it back to the hayride. We ended the day with a crunchy snack of apples, grown fresh from the farm! What an exciting trip!

Seeing the plants growing at the farm got us thinking a lot about the things growing here at Woodend. With the help of our Naturalists, the Detectives set out to explore the grounds in search of various leaves, fruits, and seeds.

We found leaves in so many colors that are falling from our resident deciduous trees, and collected seeds in all sizes, ranging from large walnuts to tiny grass seeds.

Our searches for Fall clues had us playing and exploring in familiar areas, such as the bird blind and playground, and brought us into new areas as well. Together, we ventured to the pond, children’s garden, and lookout, where new play ideas were sparked and children were able to utilize their fine and gross motor skills. The children worked together to balance on logs, transport large sticks, pick up tiny seeds, and make some wonderful memories together.

The end of the week brought us some wet weather, and the Detectives were thrilled to test out their puddle stomping boots! Exploring the wet creek bed gave us the chance to squish through the mud, get “stuck” in the muck, and create a splash zone for powerful stomps! We are looking forward to more fun weather in the upcoming weeks!

News From the Classroom

Our seed and harvest theme continued in the classroom this week, where the Detectives were busy experimenting with a variety of materials!

Following our farm field trip in which we had looked at the outside of pumpkins, we opened up a pumpkin and took a look inside! The Detectives pulled out the seeds to see how many were inside before roasting two different varieties- cinnamon and salt- for a little taste test.

Seeing the inside of a pumpkin made us curious about the insides of apples. After reading a riddle about the star inside an apple, we cut open an apple and took a peak at its seeds. The Detectives switched into their scientist mode, and made hypotheses about what would happen to an apple when its skin was altered. The following day, they used their powers of observation to describe the changes.

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The Detectives experimented with different materials for art projects, and made paintings using walnuts and apples! Friendships continued to flourish as they worked together to construct bridges and ramps for rolling apples, to build puzzles, and to mix up a new batch of playdough. We even worked together to play a new game- Hi Ho Apple-O! What an appletastic week!

Books We Read

Apples and Pumpkins by Anne Rockwell
Big Red Barn by Margaret Wise Brown
Field Trip Book, Written and Illustrated by the Nature Detectives!
Red Leaf Yellow Leaf by Lois Ehlert
Star of the Apple (storyboard)

 

Weekly Top Hits

Farmer Ben Had a Farm (tune of Old Macdonald)

Wait and See
I’m a nut (3x)
That’s me,
Gonna grow into a big oak tree,
I may be small,
but someday I’ll be tall,
wait and see!

Spoiler Alert: Next week we will continue to look for more changes around Woodend, and will start preparing for our celebration of the season!

The Detective Post #2

 

 

News from the Outdoors

The Nature Detectives kicked off the year with some wonderful, warm, fall weather! To start off school, the Detectives began to investigate our naturalized playground, our bird blind and the vast meadow. We have already begun to observe, examine and investigate the world around us!

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We learned our rules song, where the students sang along about being respectful, safe, kind and responsible! We practiced all of these outdoors, from using kind word and taking turns with treasure on the playground, to every child being responsible for their own bug catcher on hikes through the meadow.

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Noticing the fall flowers blooming in the meadow and the sound of the walnuts falling from the trees, the Nature Detectives naturally started thinking about what autumn looks like around Woodend! To celebrate fall, the Detectives started prepping for our fall field trip to Homestead Farms. We discussed what changes we’re noticing outside, comparing the walnuts and chestnuts to pumpkins and apples which are also growing in the fall.

The Detectives were thinking a lot about what animals they might observe on our farm field trip. To encourage this, both classes took a trip up to mansion to visit an animal that lives here at Audubon: Boris the Tortoise!  We discussed the differences between our wild animals and the domesticated animals we might see at the farm. It was also such a joy to watch the children use their gentle touches and respectful voices with Boris, and to hear observations such as, “her shell feels just like my fingernails!”

News from the Classroom

The Detectives brought nature inside as well, digging for bugs in the lab table, examining milkweed in the discovery table, as well as using binoculars and magnifying glasses to explore indoors.

During our meeting time, we met Chester the raccoon and Owlbert the owl! These puppet friends talked through our class rules, as well as took up residence in our cubby room. The Detectives also uncovered Chester’s story, The Kissing Hand, story boarded in our feelings den to enjoy at anytime!

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We started thinking about our farm field trip by adding farm cutters to the play dough, tractors and animals to paint table, as well as corn into the discovery table. We introduced our first block challenge on Monday, which was to build a barn for the animals!

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In the dramatic play, we saw farm stands pop up, as well as watched children create their own, multi colored corn art with the dot paints!

 

Books we Read

Click Clack Moo, Cows That Type by Doreen Cronin

Senses on the Farm by Shelley Rotner

Duck in the Truck by Jez Alborough

Cock-a-Doodle Quack Quack! by Ivor Baddiel and Sophie Jubb

 

Weekly Top Hits

Here We Are Together

Here we are together, together, together

Here we together at the Nature Preschool,

There’s.. (child’s name) and (child’s name).. etc.. and everyone!

Here we are together, we are happy you are here!

 

Clean-up Song

We looked at the clock and what does it say,

Now its time to put everything away,

Clean up time (x2)

Now its time to put everything away

 

Goodbye Song

Goodbye, Goodbye, to you and you and you (x2)

A big goodbye, a small goodbye,

A high goodbye, a low goodbye,

Goodbye, goodbye, to you and you and you, cha-cha-cha!

Class Rules (tune: Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star)

Here are rules for you and me

See how useful they can be

Show respect, be safe and kind

Be responsible all the time

These are rules that we all know

and we follow these rules wherever we go

 

Spoiler Alert: The next two weeks we will be learning about the farm and fall at Woodend!

 

The Detective Post #1

What an amazing start to the school year! From catching rain on tongues to meeting best beetles and millipedes, the Detectives jumped rain boots first into Nature Preschool. We had so much fun exploring outside and inside, a few highlights being climbing at the bird blind, digging for treasure in the sandbox, and decorating our detective bags and cubby tags! In the weeks to come, we will be writing posts in full about our adventures, so stay tuned!