Spring Forest Explorers Highlights
By Elena Canaris
Spring was an exciting season at Tilden for the families in our Forest Explorers program. Now that we've finished the spring series, it's time to look back at some of the highlights. Below is a journal of some of the magical learning and playful moments we shared together.
C, H and J had fun hiding behind tall grasses, practicing their animal camouflage. We explored down to soil, to see what we could find: roly polies! B located a plethora of spit bugs. In the morning circle, Q, his sister and T looked after a moth with a damaged wing by making a circle of dandelions to protect it while it rested in the grass. We ended the day with story time and climbing Mr. Nobody (our resident tree friend with a face). H, L and S made their way across the top like a train.
We had a puppet show featuring a banana slug and birds of California. O and N were keen on meeting some of the birds at the end. S wondered what Mr. Nobody liked to eat and decided to feed him some decaying leaves--yum!
We all enjoyed more hiding in the grass, while B led the quest to find more spit bugs! H found so many small white flowers, picking them and sharing their beauty with his friends and teachers. N tried wild onion!
Moles Out of Holes!
We met horsetail, bay tree (every week after, P steered the group over to sniff the spicy bay leaves on our way down to Mr. Nobody), and chamomile (A helped his mom find some for tea).
N and D found a dead mole in Wildcat Creek and quickly came to fetch the rest of group to share their awesome discovery. We read, in a book of small mammals, that moles dig tunnels with their spade-like shovel hands. In the weeks that followed, we watched the mole decompose, and talked about the circle of life, how the mole was turning back into soil, being eaten by invertebrates, like rollie pollies, who make it into soil to feed the plants.
B and A looked at the wild plum, inspecting the change in color of all of the small fruits on the ground. L, C and B, and yours truly looked for mole and gopher passageways and listened for sounds of activity below!
Sticky Seed Bracelets
With our tape seed bracelets (circles of tape with the sticky side facing out), we collected samples from the field and forest. S enjoyed putting forget-me-nots on her bracelet and M added bits of grass to her own, with help from her grandma, P.
R brought strawberries to share with everyone, which made for many strawberry-stained mouths during our adventuring. M and T nested down in the redwood needles and had some quality friend time!
The Heron's Lunch
One morning began with a welcome from the great blue heron. A went to investigate: the heron wasn't scared, in fact it looked as if he was just as curious about A as she was about him. Later, we got to see the heron catch his lunch of gopher or mole (we weren't close enough to determine which) at the edge of the meadow! C's grandpa, R, exclaimed that Forest School was teaching him things he had never learned, even with his 70th birthday only a few days away.
The group detected a skunk smell on the edge of the meadow. A led us in exploring for the skunk, and we looked for clues of where it might have gone or what had happened the night before. On our way down to Mr. Nobody, P visited his old friend, the big Bay Tree on the trail. (Mrs. Somebody?).
We found a banana slug friend on our way up to story time, which was held in a new picnic spot above Wildcat Creek. The new spot, L said, was his house. He gave us tour of the roots and plants in his home. After our stories, we made a "rain storm," clapping our hands and stomping our feet, hoping for rain over the weekend!
The forest was magical this spring, and we couldn't have picked better companions to enjoy it with. Here's to summer's swift approach!
P.S. Here are some of the books we've enjoyed this season at Forest Explorers
Spring Forest Explorers Book List
Whale who dreamt of snail by Heimbach/Tolentino
A Nest is Noisy, An Egg is Quiet, and A Rock is Lively by Aston/Long
As the Crow Flies by Keenan/Duggan
In the Meadow by Yukiko Kato
Over in the Meadow by Ezra Jack Keats
Backyard Birds of Summer by Carol Lerner
We're Going on A Bear Hunt by Rosen/Oxenbury
ABCs Naturally by Diebel/Kalscheur
I'm a Pill Bug by Tokuda/Takahashi
Mole Music by David McPhail
The Busy Tree by Ward/Falkenstern
Listen to the Rain by Martin/Archambault/Endicott