Our first nature walk of the 2013-2014 school year was last week. We have a very large old cemetery in our neighborhood, with hills, mature trees, lots of cover for birds, and paved paths for walking!
Taking a group of children on a nature walk is always challenging. The excitement of being with friends make sit hard to settle down and observe what’s around them and most wild animals aren’t that interested in hanging around an area with a bunch of noise and activity.
We (Mouse, Jack and I) joined up with our group around ten am. There was a great deal of running and climbing at first, but the weather was warm and there were interesting things to see, so the children slowed down pretty quickly.
We walked around one edge of the cemetery until we came to a nice shady spot to sit down and observe. The children looked at the ground between their feet and drew little sketches of what they saw. We talked about how the vegetation could tell us about the health and acidity of the soil and about what changes we might see next month. The children were then released to explore and see what they could find!
A large spider web was a draw for a while, then everyone gathered around to see the two small toads one of them had caught.
We talked about some of the differences between frogs and toads and where the toad might have come from. All too soon it was time to pack up and head home for lunch and naps! We did continue our observations on the way out and were rewarded by the sight of a small flock of blue jays having a quarrel over territory with several mockingbirds!
Where can you go to study the natural world? Even your backyard can have an amazing diversity!