Friday, August 1, 2014

Seed Need

Collecting Seeds
For our last day of Growing Up WILD, each WILD CHILD explored how animals spread seeds in nature. We each put a sock over our shoes and went walking through grassy areas and fields that had many seed bearing plants.

Stephanie & Crew collecting seeds with their socks
After the walk, we took off the socks to examine and found all kinds of seeds and particles. We realized that our socks acted just like animal fur. The seeds can stick to an animal and then later fall off onto the ground and grow another plant in a different location. As we looked into the yard and the woods, we were wondering if this is how all of those plants and trees were planted.

Seeds, Seeds....
Plants grow in nearly every environment on earth and serve as food for people and many animals.

In the wild, animals help in the process of seed distribution (dispersal) in a variety of ways. Some seeds have little barbs or hooks that catch on an animal's body as it passes by. Later, grooming or brushing up against an object will knock the seed off in a new location. Many plants have developed brightly colored, flavorful fruit as a means of attracting animals. Fruit-eating animals, including many birds and mammals, pass hard to digest seeds out of their bodies in their "poop", called scat. Animals may also loosen seed heads or drop acorns and other seeds to the ground as they are feeding. The seeds can then float in the air or roll to a new location. Squirrels and many jays are famous for burying "nuts" to eat at a later time. When they lose track of their hidden treasures, seeds are dispersed. If dispersed seeds get enough water, nutrients and sunlight, new plants may grow in many new locations.

...where are the seeds?

Found one in my ear!

Isn't this the best?!

Thank you to all of the families who supported our curriculum. I hope your children had a wonderful time learning about the outdoors. I hope to see many of you next year! See you soon!

Hooray For Growing Up WILD!

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Aqua Charades & Wildlife Water Safari

WILD CHILD on a Wildlife Water Safari
Without water, there would be no life. Water is essential to the processes that keep plants and animals alive.

People use water for many purposes other than drinking. At home, we use it to cook, to clean, to garden and much more. We use it for swimming, boating, fishing, skiing, and other sports and recreation.

Like people, all animals need water to support basic body function. Some drink water like people do. Others can get water from the foods they eat, or can absorb it through their skin (like freshwater fish). Some animals use water for swimming and cleaning themselves. Most fish and many other aquatic animals breathe with gills and can live only when they are completely immersed in water.

Plants also need water to live. In addition to life processes, plants use water for physical support: water pressure within the cells helps to "hold up" the plant. Some plants also use water to help disperse their seeds to new locations.

We found a vernal pool
We started our morning by discussing the importance of water to all living things. Children thought of ways that they and other people use water. They took turns sharing their ideas and then acted it out and had everyone else guess their action. Water uses included washing dishes, taking a bath, flushing the toilet, and brushing teeth.

Next we went on a water safari to look for wild animals and places they might get water. We found water on grass, in puddles, on leaves, in a vernal pool and in a stream.

When we returned to camp we used water to hydrate our bodies, wash our hands and paint about our safari with WATERcolors!

Snack-Just Add Water
We usually get some of the water we need to stay healthy from the food we eat. Other times we dry out our food so that we can keep it for a long time. For snack we tried some dehydrated foods and compared how we like them naturally (with water). Then we discussed our preferences. Foods included apples & dried apple rings, bananas & dried banana chips, cranberries and raisins.

Today we played a variety of games we've learned at WILD CHILD!

Setting up the WILD CHILD veggie stop

Bird Beak Buffet

"Freeze Birds" Game
Hiding in Plain Sight
Today we combined two lessons about camouflage and bird beaks. Our day started by asking several questions about blending in. "What color is camouflage?" Harry knew right away that camouflage isn't a color.  It's what an animal does to blend in to what's around it. 
"What is a real animal that is well camouflaged? What does it look like? What does its habitat look like? What colors do you see when you look into the forest?"

We warmed up by announcing that three animals (plastic snakes) were hiding nearby. Children were challenged to stay in one place as they tried to find them using only their eyes. The red snake was easy to find because it was sitting on a gray bench. It really stood out. The other two snakes were a little more difficult to see because they were blending in with their surroundings. We continued to play Hiding In Plain Sight with animal replicas. We chose a person to be the predator. They had to sit in one place with their eyes closed as the other children hid prey animal replicas in plain sight. The "prey" may be partially hidden, but it must be able to be seen by the predator. After the children hid the prey animals, they regrouped near the "predator". The hungry "predator" opened his or her eyes tried to find "prey" to eat by pointing to the animals he or she can see from their spot. 

"Freeze Birds" Game
Take Me Outside!
Many animals stay still to help them blend into the environment and hide from predators. Even brightly-colored animals, like bluebirds, can blend in by keeping still. In "Freeze Birds" bluebirds must stay very still to hide from a hawk. A "hawk" looks in one direction and counts to twenty. While the hawk is counting, "bluebirds" fly around together behind the hawk, looking for food. When finished counting, the hawk says, "Here come a hawk!" Then, the bluebirds freeze and stay very still. The hawk turns around. If the hawk sees any movement by a bluebird, that bird becomes "eaten".

Shorebirds use long, thin beaks to probe shallow water, mud and sand for small invertebrates

Bird Beak Buffet
Today we learned about the special functions of beaks. Each WILD CHILD had time to explore the station materials and bird beak tools. 

QUICK FACTS: Birds all have some kind of beak for grasping and eating their food. The size and shape of a bird's beak enables it to eat certain kinds of foods. Seed and nut eaters, such as sparrows and finches, usually have short, thick beaks for cracking open seeds. Nectar feeders, such as hummingbirds, have long, slender beaks for reaching into flowers. Flesh eaters, like hawks and owls, have powerful hooked beaks for tearing and cutting flesh and skin. Other birds my have beaks suited for filtering, spooning, chiseling, or pinching.

Here are some photos of the Bird Beak Stations...

Woodpeckers use strong, pointed beaks to drill or chisel into wood and probe for insects

Ducks use blunt, spoon-like bills that have fine combs along upper and lower edges to strain aquatic plants and algae from water

Owls, hawks and eagles use sharp, curved beaks for tearing meat from the mice and other animals they eat

Pelicans use pouch-like beaks to scoop fish from the water

Hummingbirds use long, slender thin beaks to probe flowers for the nectar they eat

Bird Buffet for Snack
For our snack today we enjoyed some foods that birds eat. We made a trail mix with goldfish, nuts, seeds, berries and gummy fish and worms.

Making Binoculars
Homemade Binoculars
We made binoculars with paper tubes, glue and coloring materials. We were able to use the binoculars to focus on a hawk invading a songbird's nest in our Secret Garden.

Fairy Houses Continued

Finger Painting in Nature

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Who Lives in a Tree

Making observations about who lives in a tree

Squirrel Relay Race

Fairy Houses

Finger Painting

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Lunch for a Black Bear

Several black bears looking for enough food to survive
We began our day with a food hunt. I walked around with the children and collected food items that a certain creature might eat while everyone tried to guess what NH animal I was. I gathered grasses, flowers (plants), hickory nuts and acorns, a chicken (meat), insects and raspberries (fruit). Do you know which NH mammal I am? A Black Bear!

After we discussed these foods and others that would suffice for a Black Bear, each WILD CHILD acted as their own black bear and began searching for enough food for themselves. Kadence threw in a challenge. Another black bear could come and take another's food if it wasn't already eaten (or packed in their Nature Journals). This activity helped us to understand what might happen if a bear's habitat does not have the food, water, shelter or space it needs to survive.

Dippin' Bears for Snack
For snack today we ate Dippin' Bears! It consisted of Honey Teddy Grahams with YoKids yogurt. Mmmm!

Black Bears are omnivores, which means they will eat both plant and animal matter. Most of their diet is made up of a variety of plant and plant parts like leaves, berries and nuts. What black bears eat depends on where they live and what is available at that time of year.

In order to survive, black bears, just like all wild animals, must have all their needs met by their habitat. They require large areas with lots of different foods. They also need streams, ponds, or other sources of water for drinking and cooling. They prefer forested and shrubby areas as cover for hiding and for keeping warm. In winter, black bears need a den, which may be a hollowed-out tree cavity, a hole under a log or rock, a small cave or culvert, or simply a shallow depression in the ground.

90 Degrees and Cooling Off

Swim Time

Natural weapons, flower crown and staff

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Wildlife Is Everywhere!

Wildlife is Everywhere!
Today children made observations and understood that wildlife is all around us. We discussed the differences between wild and domestic animals. Our goal was to find as much wildlife or wildlife signs as we could and record it in our Nature Journals. We split into 2 groups and we both found immediate signs of wildlife all around us. We found skunk scat, grasshoppers, a dragonfly, lots of insects, spiderwebs, claw marks and much more. 

What's this?
Many people think of wildlife as the large animals of Africa, such as lions and elephants, or the large animals of the North American forests, such as grizzly bears and elk. However, wildlife includes any animal that has not been domesticated by people.

In contrast to domesticated animals such as farm animals and pets, which depend on people for their needs, wild animals provide for their own food, water, shelter and other needs. Although plants can also be categorized as wild or domesticated, only wild animals are called wildlife.

Wildlife includes worms, snails, insects, spiders and other invertebrates (animals without a backbone), and vertebrates including fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals. Wildlife also includes very small animals that can be seen only through a microscope.

Wildlife is everywhere-on land, in soil, in water, and in the air. Even in the cleanest houses and buildings.

Recording the wildlife signs in our Nature Journals

Animal Signs

For today's snack we made homemade Trail Mix. Looking for wildlife often means taking along your own food and water. Trail mix is easy to carry and is also nutritious. We made ours with almonds, peanuts, chocolate chips and pretzels.

Cool off time! It's a hot week!

Float or Sink?

Sink or Float?