Thursday, January 18, 2018

Group Projects with the 3rd and 4th Graders

Preface: Back in October, the 3rd and 4th graders brainstormed topics that they were interested in becoming experts on during their outdoor days this year (see below). 
Students then formed small groups, each with their own special topic, and have been conducting research and developing presentations related to these topics. We look forward to sharing this work in the coming weeks. 

"After our outdoor time we came inside and worked on our group projects. But before that we watched a video of watersheds and how rivers flow. After the video we worked on our separate projects. Here are some pictures of us working on our projects."   By: LS (grade 3/4 student)

Thursday, January 11, 2018


This week, 3rd and 4th graders built a scaled down model of our town including Camel's Hump Mountain, the foothills and the valleys. First, we studied a topographical map of our town.  We used snow to sculpt our models - it was perfect snow packing weather - the start of a January thaw. Then we 1.) "wrapped" our models; 2.) placed some cinnamon piles in places to represent pollution sources; and 3.) rained colored water on top to recreate the watershed. We observed where the water flowed (and didn't flow) and how it carried the cinnamon downstream.

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Tracking Stories in the Snow

Every week in the wintertime brings new signs of life in the foot prints, scat, clumps of fur, little tunnels in the snow. We've enjoyed looking out for these animal tracks. There are so many stories being told if we can follow the clues:

Whose feather is this? There's a little yellow around the edges.

Bedding down with a deer hoof print.

Deer and bird prints.

So many bird prints!

Mystery prints passing by a tunnel. Hunting perhaps?

"Fossilized" deer print.

"Fossilized" scat.

What's the story here?

Fur clump. 
Investigating a tunnel. Once we started looking, we found lots of these in the subnivean zone.

Who is that bedding down in the snow?

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Making Connections

Third and Fouth graders have been returning to the same woods trail week after week. This has allowed us to really get to know it well, notice its changes as the seasons progress, and discover many of the living things that inhabit the forest behind our school.

Most of the time, we walk in silence. This helps us blend in well enough to come upon a group of deer. We also were surprised to find a red backed salamander in the leaf litter - in November! 

We have also returned, week after week, to the same learning concept - interdependence. We've made connections with survival, diversity, and teamwork through various activities and group sharing.

Web of Life activity. Each student, in turn, "became" a living thing from nature, then passed the ball of yarn to another student who they either ate or were eaten by. Students had surprisingly creative ways of thinking about this - including things like soil and parasites.

Mrs. Carter then continued the connection-making by reading "Food For Life: Mountains"

Monday, October 16, 2017

School Garden Tasting

Our school garden may have stopped growing, but it still has some edible plants in it. Nutrition teacher and school lunch chef extraordinaire, Alison Forrest, was a guest teacher for First and Second graders during today's Outdoor Classroom time. Alison showed students some of the herbs she uses to flavor their school lunches - and let us have a taste test. As you can see, there were some mixed reactions!

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Oh Deer

3rd and 4th graders are entering a unit of learning about Interdependence. Connections are all around us in the outdoor classroom! 

Today, we played a game called "Oh Deer" to help us get thinking about basic needs for survival (shelter, water, food, space) and limiting factors in a habitat. Students also brought up ideas about other factors that have an effect on survival like hunting and predators - and, as this game demonstrates, population.

Fall is an interesting time to think about survival in the animal (and plant) world, as you can really see food sources running low, feel temperatures dropping, and the need to start making adaptations for the winter season.

Basically, the game starts with a line of students who are "deer" and line of students who are "habitat", on either side of a field. The habitat students choose to represent a survival need (shelter, water, or food) and the deer choose which need they are searching for in each round, all using hand gestures. Read a full description of "Oh Deer" here. We played 15 rounds and recorded the number of surviving deer in each round. As you can see in the picture below, there are some big fluctuations in survival rate of deer as population and resource availability change. And change is a constant in the natural world!

Monday, June 12, 2017

Closing Circle

This past Friday was the last Forest Friday for our 1st and 2nd graders. As we do at the end of most days, we finished with a closing circle. The closing circle was an opportunity to share and reflect back on the year. Here are some of the students favorite parts of Forest Friday:

  • Experiencing nature and all the tiny animals and sounds.
  • When we all get together.
  • Learning about nature. It's really pretty. There are all different sights and sounds.
  • Our special places.
  • The games! (Camo and 1 Fish, 2 Fish, Red Fish Blue Fish were common favorites)
  • The experiments.
  • Making observations.
  • Journaling in sit spots because you could see things started to grow over all the seasons.
  • Doing transects because we got to see how plants grow.
  • Hanging out with friends.
  • Having parent volunteers.
  • "I loved the rain!"