March 7th, 2016

Miss Karen joined us today since Samantha was out of town. We were all expecting a warm, rainy day… but instead we got a little snow storm! We hiked out to the root-ball tree, catching snowflakes on our tongues on the way. IMG_6239

When we got there, we took out our bowls and spoons, and  several kids started making snow cakes and soups.

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A few others started climbing the root-ball- they found that the snow made for a nice slide on the side of the tree.

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Miss Karen and Milo chatted and caught up..

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Levi rolled snowballs for all the snow chefs.

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Since we all expected rain, we all brought rain clothes! So after playing for a while, we got pretty cold and decided to go inside and warm up. Luckily Miss Karen brought a lot of indoor ideas for us. First we played board games- my group chose UNO.

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Miss Karen’s group played a dice race game- each kid had dice and a score board, and each time they rolled they crossed off a box on their score board, according to which number they rolled. It was fun to watch how excited they got to race against themselves!

 

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Finally, we gathered together in the middle of the room, and Miss Karen taught the kids how to square dance while I played the fiddle.

IMG_6269IMG_6271When we were finished we all laid on the floor and made ourselves into the spokes of a wheel. Great day, even though we didn’t get to spend as much time outside as usual!

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February 22, 2016

Levi C. told us all about the striped skunk today. One fact that really stuck with all of us was that skunk dads sometimes come into the den and eat the babies! So the mamas are very protective. Who knew?!IMG_6101

Next, Flint presented his animal: the kestrel. We learned that kestrels are very fast, and that they’re the same size as a hot dog bun! None of us will ever forget that comparison…

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Then we headed down to the golden birch woods, where we found that our supply of ice jewels was replentished!

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Sammy kept all the jewel miners on task..IMG_6114

The Miners made a container for their jewels and piled them all inside for storage.

IMG_6122Meanwhile, Tru, Scarlet, Nola and Jade wanted to work on some carving. So we found a safe spot, went over knife safety again, and started carving.

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Things got a little chilly in the woods, so we headed up to the new field to warm up. Some of us painted, some of us played tag, and some of us did a little sunbathing.IMG_6129

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Back inside, we had a tea party and ate some cupcakes in honor of Jade’s 5th birthday. Delicious!IMG_6135

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Then we got to work making “Dragon Cider”, a food medicine made out of horseradish, orange and lemon juice, garlic, onions, turmeric, ginger, and apple cider vinegar. It’ll be coming your way in about 6 weeks!

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Some kids helped chopped, some drew and painted their own labels to put on their dragon cider jars.

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We finished our day outside playing games in the field and playing on the playground.

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February 29, 2016

Today, Una presented her animal: the porcupine. We learned that porcupines don’t have many predators, and when  they’re babies, their quills haven’t hardened yet.

IMG_6185It was a super windy day, so we headed outside to try out the kites Samantha brought. One was a small pirate kite that the kids could take turns flying. The other was a racing kite! Sam had to be in charge of that one.IMG_6193

After we got our fill of kite flying, we headed to the far entrance to the yellow trail. We had planned to hike the whole loop, but we got sidetracked, and instead went up some huge rocks to see what was on top. It was a whole world we had never explored! There was a flat top that we could play on, rocks we could climb, and trees we could lean against.

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IMG_6201Several kids decided to explore even further along the ridge line, and eventually we all made our way to find out what they had discovered. On the other side, we found a porcupine den! It was filled with scat, along with some quills.

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We headed back inside, then did some restful activities after lunch.IMG_6219

We were ready to go back out, so half the kids went out to play games, half stayed inside to design kites of their own. They used fabric, sticks they’d collected, and hot glue to stick it all together.

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The very end of the day took us out to the new field we found, where we enjoyed the sun and found goldenrod galls.

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February 8, 2016

We started our day with some silly dress up. I think these three were the silliest of all…

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Then at circle time, Samantha shared a nature mystery with us. It was something tiny and pointy. Guesses included : a crab claw, a bird talon, a tooth, and a sharp part of a plant, It turned out to be a rodent jaw that Sam had found stuck inside a bottle. We talked a lot about what might have happened to the rodent. We constructed several stories from all the clues we had available to us. Of course, we’ll never know for sure. But the story we decided on was that the mouse had crawled inside the bottle looking for food and gotten stuck, then died because it had nothing to eat.

 

IMG_5998After that, we headed outside to the Root-ball tree.  On the way we stopped at the magic bridge. As usual, we all made a silent wish, then let it fly away on the breeze.

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IMG_6004Once we reached our destination, we drifted off into groups- some used the small notebooks for mapping and writing, some used our outdoor watercolors to paint.

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A small group headed up the mountain to look for crystals in the rocks, and another group excavated a punky log.

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IMG_6012We sat and had some “birdy drinks”, then listened to the story of how the chickadees saved all the animals. We were getting pretty hungry, so we went back for lunch, resting, and nettle tea.

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When we had regained our strength, We went back outside to Rocks-a-moss and the castle. It’s been so long since we visited! There was a lot of hide-and-seek, camouflaging in the leaves, and playing on the giant downed tree.

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We played and played, almost until it was time to go home. We even missed most of our playground time. We’ll be back at it the week after next!

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February 1, 2016

Milo presented on his animal, the White-tailed deer. He taught us a lot- including the fact that, even though deer mostly eat plants, very rarely they will eat a baby bird from the nest. Who knew!? After circle and snack, we got ready to head outside.

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Truman thought we’d be making a fire later, so he gathered some birch bark and mouse tails ahead of time.

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When we got down to the Golden Birch woods, there was a lot of ice. Immediately the kids started skating and breaking the ice. Some of us searched even farther into the woods and ended up finding a new field that we’d never seen before. Of course we knew just what deer scat looked like, thanks to Milo’s presentation, and we also found a sapling where a deer had rubbed his antlers!

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Levi and Lincoln found a dead stump that they could hit like a drum… and it even started coming apart as they hit!

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Several months ago, we had built lots of fairy houses. We searched for them and found that were still standing, so some kids worked on them more, making sure they didn’t have too much snow damage.

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We were collecting birch bark for the fire, and some children were asking, “why birch bark?”. We decided to do an experiment to see how well certain things burn. We tried a stick, a hemlock branch with needles, and then some birch bark. Clearly it burned the best! And it made sense why we would want to use it to start fires.

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After that, Levi found some birch bark to add to our pile.

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Some of the kids found that when they excavated the dirt in a certain spot, they found an ice crystal mine! They dug and dug, and charge people money if they wanted to buy a crystal gem.

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On our way back, we gathered lots of dead seed pods and flower heads. Inside, we used them to make some arrangements to bring home and share with our families.

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After lunch, we snuggled in to listen to some stories, then we got dressed to head back outside.

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We ran out to the new spot we discovered, and built a fire. We sang a few songs, ran down the big hill, and found some giant rocks to climb on in the woods.

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What an awesome day!

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January 25th, 2016

Lincoln started our day with his presentation on Coyote (or prairie wolf, as we learned later). He taught us about what they eat, and even did a really great demonstration of how coyotes really howl.IMG_5790

After snack, we headed out to the big hill and started sledding like crazy! A group of kids even tried to pull Josh up the hill in a sled, pretending to be a sled dog team. Some decided to sit in the warm sun, and began making trails in the snow so we could play “fox and voles”.

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While many were sledding, a few of us started work on a snow fort at the top of the hill. Some piled snow, others made pathways with our shovels. Our fort grew and grew- we added a living room, a secret room, lots of bedrooms, and hallways. There was lots of debate about whether or not we needed a bathroom- but it was eventually decided that we could just use the woods if we needed to go pee. We also added dead seed pods and branches on the walls for privacy and decoration.

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IMG_5844Before listening to stories, we did some floor books and then we had a tea party circle on the floor.

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We drank delicious nettle tea. Some of us were reluctant to drink it until we heard that the tea wouldn’t sting us! We also did a breathing game that got us all giggling.

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A few kids went down to the bottom of the hill to play baby cheetahs- others worked diligently to add rooms to our fort.

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We ended our day with a short circle in the “living room” of our snow fort, then some of us went to warm up and listen to a story inside, and some went out to the sandbox playground.

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January 11th, 2016

Truman kicked off our presentation season on Monday. He brought in lots of information about the Red Eft. We learned that Efts eat insects, they live on land but lay eggs in water, and that they raise up their tails when they feel threatened.

As soon as we got outside, Lincoln and Tru made some snowbirds. Then we realized that Maddie was missing! We went to where we last saw her, then followed her tracks all the way to Footprint farm. All of a sudden, the tracks ended! We had no idea where she was… until she surprised us! She had been hiding under a brown cloak next to a wood pile and was VERY camouflaged.

 

On the other side of the pond, we found that the water was completely ufrozen. We wondered why, then we noticed that moving water was pouring into the pond out of a pipe. We thought that might have something to do with it. We looked for crayfish along the banks, but didn’t see any. Then we tossed chunks of ice and snow into the water- we watched the ice float, and noticed that the snow melted.

We walked further down the white trail than we’ve ever been before. We passed the cattail swamp, lots of animal tracks, and searched for sticks to bring back with us.

On our way back, we stopped at a big downed tree. The end of the tree was a factory that built metal tools, and the root-ball of the tree was a train. Jade, Asher and Marie and Una found a little tree cave and pretended to be baby cheetahs.

After lunch, we snuggled on the couch and then did a little stretching…IMG_5691

 

Once we were rested, we went back outside and headed up to Breezy Mountain. We used the rope to help us get up the slippery hill. It was definitely a breezy day, so many of us headed into the lion’s den to keep warm. We were curious to see if the leaves we piled on top of the den helped keep the snow off. It did provide some shelter, and the ground was pretty clear and dry.

At the very end of the day, we made a little fire and roasted some cheese. It was delicious!

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