Bread in a bag

We love a good cooking project and bread in a bag is an all-time favorite! Children learn and practice so many important skills and are fascinated how the different ingredients come together to make a delicious treat! Visit Busy Toddler for detailed step-by-step instructions with photos. Susie from Busy Toddler has so many wonderful play-based ideas and tips on Busy Toddler – we highly recommend checking out her site!

We hope you have an awesome time baking up this delicious bread with your families!

Nature crowns

There are so many ways to make nature crowns! All you really need is a strip of paper or cardboard fitted to your child’s head and some glue or tape (a hot glue gun is helpful but not required). Take a nature walk and collect natural items that appeal to your child and then glue or tape them onto the strip of paper/cardboard. Voila!

We love making nature crowns each season – they are always unique and special. This site has some great ideas and images to get you started. We hope you enjoy making your own nature crowns!

Nature crowns

There are so many ways to make nature crowns! All you really need is a strip of paper or cardboard fitted to your child’s head and some glue or tape (a hot glue gun is helpful but not required). Take a nature walk and collect natural items that appeal to your child and then glue or tape them onto the strip of paper/cardboard. Voila!

We love making nature crowns each season – they are always unique and special. This site has some great ideas and images to get you started. We hope you enjoy making your own nature crowns!

Hot and cold

Play an old favorite game with natural items! The player that is the “hider” chooses a natural item. The “seekers” use their senses to really explore the item before the hider hides it. Discuss its details together: is it large, medium or small? Is it heavy or light? Smooth or rough? It’s important to practice keen observation skills as there may be other natural items that look very similar! Consider marking the item with a sharpie or a string if you think that would be helpful.

Once ready, the seekers close their eyes while the hider hides the object. Once the hider shouts “ready!”, the seekers move together as the hider tells them with each step if they’re getting “warmer” (closer to the hiding spot) or “colder (further from the hiding spot). When the seekers get warm, warmer, hot, hotter, BURNING HOT (!!) they know they are close to the jackpot and need to use their eagle eyes to find the natural item. We hope you have a blast playing “Hot and Cold” with natural items!

Nature cutting

Young children love using scissors and it’s so important to give them lots of opportunities to sharpen their scissor skill set on items other than paper. What could be easier than offering your children the chance to practice their cutting skills on yard scraps or items found on a nature walk?

You need:

  • Scissors
  • Nature items (leaves, weeds, twigs, etc)
  • Optional: bins for organizing

Using bins to organize your cut and uncut natural items is helpful but not necessary.

Sometimes children cut just to cut and other times children might be interested in creating artwork with their cut items. We often use a tree stump as our art canvas or a piece of cardboard or storage bin top. If it’s windy, adding tape can be helpful.

Adding a smiley face to your child’s thumbnail and offering the prompt to “keep your smiley face up!” can be helpful to young children as they learn to master scissor skills. Thumbs up for this fun, easy, and free activity!

Tree obstacle course

Head outside and find a climbing tree to create a tree obstacle course! Find different ways to climb through the tree – Japanese Maples and Bush Honeysuckle work well for young children – and consider adding a rope for more challenges. You can switch up speed, height, and distance for more or less challenge depending on your child’s age, comfort and skill level.

A few safety rules to consider is to only climb on branches as thick as your leg, ensure safe fall zones, and have a spotter for young children.

Have fun and remember to hug the tree when you’re finished!

Nature Suncatchers

Nature suncatchers are a lovely way to bring some nature indoors; additionally, all ages enjoy this simple project where creativity and originality shine! All you need is:

  • Natural items – small/lightweight items work best – enjoy the physics lesson involved in discovering what sticks best
  • a paper plate (or sturdy paper/cardboard) – we will cut out the center creating a frame
  • Scissors
  • Clear tape – add the tape sticky side up in order to add natural items
  • Optional: string to hang in window

We hope you have a wonderful time creating your own nature suncatchers!

Rock Buddies

On your next walk, bring a collecting bag or bucket to hold any potential rock buddies you find. Back home, you can give your new friends a quick bath, and then your imagination is the only limit on uncovering your rocks’ hidden identities.

Paint and brushes, googly eyes, fabric scrap clothes, yarn hair, a sharpie and some glue will help you fashion your new friends.

You may want to find a place outside, on a branch, around the base of a tree, or you may decide you have an indoor rock. I like to name my rock friend Roxie. Roxie may live on a shelf or you may decide to a make a special home out of a shoe box.

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 #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!