The last week of 2018 and first week of 2019, with all of its missed days from school due to the holidays, still proved to be very fruitful with discoveries and new creations. Since the school was closed for several days and children were in and out with family traditions and illnesses, we spread out our nature and edible food topic over those two weeks. As we had been seeing a lot of lady bugs lately and one of the students had requested that we choose them as the next nature topic to learn about, we decided to learn a thing or two about them.
The kids spent a good deal of team early in the week looking for ladybugs. Everyday they looked for one and they would not find one the entire time we were outside, however it never failed that one of us would accidentally find one within the last 10 minutes of morning outside time when we were occupied with other things. We had a few days of rain one day, and one of the students was playing in a puddle when they screamed that they found a ladybug (mariquita). They rescued it from the puddle, showed it to everyone in the yard, we made some observations of its color and spots, then he returned it to our vegetable garden to defend it from aphids or bad veggie bugs. One day during a small activity time , we made ladybugs with our hands and the kids added special spots to them using paper and leaf confetti. We love seeing the excitement when they find a bug and love watching them observe it and be ever so gentle with the little creatures.
In such a small yard, sometimes you think you have seen it all. I know we have mentioned this before in a previous blog, yet we always seem to find something new and exciting. Since there was so much rain there were a lot of earth worms near the surface in puddles and under pots. The kids love to go around moving pots, logs, and items that have not moved in a while to see what is under them. They discovered a lot of dead and living worms and decided to relocate the ones that were still alive to the compost bin and garden. One day we were looking at the holes in the leaves of our Brussels sprout plant and began to look under leaves for green caterpillars, but instead we were pleasantly surprised to find a slug. After observing it for a few minutes, he was safely relocated to another part of the yard.
In order to improve our backyard habitat for the winter, we filled a bird feeder up and placed it in the yard. The kids had so much fun feeling the seeds and filling up the feeder as you can see in the photo. The next day one of the students showed a lot of self control and patience in waiting for the birds to show up. After sitting and watching a Carolina chickadee eat for a few moments, he decided to move closer to the feeder. After waiting about 2 feet from the feeder in standing position, that chickadee returned and the look on his face was priceless. He was so full of wonder and amazement that the bird came back and that close.
The school received a lot of rain during the last few weeks. The yard if very uneven and there are a lot of ponds where water does not drain very well. Our biggest pond is located at the back of the yard in a dirt area which is perfect for creating mud. After big rains, or even rains where there is enough water to make mud, the kids will spend most of their outdoor time in this area, playing in the puddles, using the mud, or like this past week they created a bridge. It was fun watching the evolution of them playing in this puddle that day. It started off with them just throwing a few blocks into the puddles to see it splash, then to stepping on it to see if they could balance, lastly they came up with the idea to create a bridge and a game to go along with that bridge. As teachers, when we are outside with them, we usually step back and just supervise them playing versus directing their play. They always manage to make up something new with the same materials, just different circumstances.
Since the school opened, we have been choosing an edible plant and a nature topic to study every week. The kids choose most of the themes, based on what they are interested in at the time or what is seasonally happening. When we have our themes, we print the pictures and label them with their Spanish names after that week has ended and place it on our magnetic boards (homemade from galvanized steel sheeting and some frames from the thrift store). They love reviewing them everyday by sorting them into different groups based on color or type or we ask questions like, "What grows really tall, has leaves, and provides homes for animals?" then they grab the card from the floor and place it on the wall. But their favorite, is when the teacher takes a card, states a fact and tries to trick them. For example if the teacher had the radish card she would say, "this is a fruit, that grows in trees, and is very sweet." The kids then all laugh, and correct her and are proud of themselves for knowing something about the items. It is just another game we have in the morning or when we have inside time. Since we eat these items all of the time and see them outside almost everyday, the information and connection to these creatures and natural elements is being reinforced all of the time.
The food is always good and there is usually none left on the serving dishes at the end of the meals. The broccoli and noodles is always a big hit here and since broccoli was our veggie of the week, we made sure to incorporate it into several other meals.