All this time outdoors makes us feel like explorers. We explore Irvine’s trails and streams, ponds and wetlands- sometimes hiking until we are bushed! Wouldn’t it be nice to hunker down in a nice warm tent, tell stories and have a cup of tea? We think so!
This week we pretended to camp out and did things that real-life campers and backpackers would do! We pitched a tent, told stories, sang songs and even had some delicious creations from our cool kettle! Take a look at what the classes did to practice for their 2,200 mile hike up the Appalachian Trail someday!
We had the pleasure of two extra Forest Friends joining us for an awesome Monday this week! Following a request from a classmate, we started the day with an art project: the creation of our very own glittery play dough . We all worked together to measure the ingredients, add the perfect amount of glitter, and stir it all together. The dough was fun to cut with scissors and mold into shapes with our hands.
On our hike, we looked out at the forest and realized that the leaves on the trees had changed color quite a bit over the weekend. We started out on our hike paying special attention to the leaves on the ground and collected leaves of different colors in bags. We stopped at the gazebo to eat our snack and read a book called Fall leaves Fall! by Zoe Hall. Inspired by the book to make leaf art in our journals, we began to make some leaf rubbings. By putting leaves behind a paper and then rubbing a crayon on the top, we could magically make the leaf appear! Then Ms. Beth came by with her Little Birds class and invited us to join a parachute game with leaves. One little backpacker brought his binoculars with him and we had a great time using them to look at things in the distance from the meadow.
After all the fun. we headed to the ponds along the road to look for some frogs. When we got there we realized the pools were quite deep and it was impossible to walk from one side to the other without water spilling into our rain boots. Working as a team, we began to create a bridge across on of the pools using the logs we found in the area. We created the first design of the bridge but when we tried it, we realized the logs weren’t strong enough to hold weight. We re-thought our design, and decided to use thicker logs which resulted in a much sturdier bridge. Deciding to ford a river or stream or to create a bridge is a decision that a hiker may have to make!
On Wednesday, the rain from Tuesday was gone and we had a nice dry day. We learned how to use a handy little backpackers companion called the Kelly Kettle and made some hot tea for ourselves. The kettle works by lighting a fire inside the bottom of the kettle to warm the water up inside.
We set up the tent on the grass and since it wasn’t raining we removed the rain fly. Then we climbed into the tent for snack and to listen to some camping poems from a book called Toasting Marshmallows by Kristine O’Connell. When we were finished eating, we realized it had been a while since we provided snack to the birds so we grabbed our pails, filled them with birdseed, and spread it along the trails.
Our little prepared backpacker pal shared a compass he had brought from home and we used it as we hiked to figure out which direction we were going. On the way down to the barn we mostly went NE. At the barn we found the hay ride wagon and created a tunnel out of the hay bales sitting inside. While our Forest Dreamer friends were quick to wiggle through, Ms. Tara had a much harder time! As we were jumping out of the wagon, we found a huge mud puddle and were inspired to add some mud painting to our journals.
Tuesday was drizzly which made pitching a tent a worthwhile activity. We used problem solving to all pitch in and pitch the tent! After the tent was up, we all piled inside and took a look at the features of the tent. We talked about the ability to pack a tent quickly and compactly so that it may be carried on long journeys. The tent can be put up quickly in case someone may need to take shelter in say… the rain! As the rain poured, our bodies stayed dry. Ms. Tara had to mad dash to make sure everyone’s packs and shoes stayed dry!
We sang songs of moose and bears and read a book of poems entitled Toasting Marshmallows by Kristine O’Connell. This book had different types of poems in it. Some rhymed and some didn’t. Some had lots of similes and metaphors and some even were written to look like the shape of the title of the poem!
When the rain let up ever so slightly, we had a chance to use a really cool invention called the Kelly Kettle. The kettle works by lighting a fire in the bottom area and heating up the water that is sealed inside the walls. Once the fire has burned, the nice hot water can be poured into mugs or bowls. We decided that oats were a great camping snack and all had our try of oats with cinnamon and dried blueberries! While it wasn’t the best thing we’ve ever eaten, we had fun with the process!
We finally hiked down to the wet meadow to take a look at Irvine on a cloudy, rainy day before heading home.
On Thursday, we talked inventory. We created a grid in our journals and each item we could think of bringing on a long hiking trip, we added to a part of our grid. We talked of bringing the bare essentials, not carrying things that may be too heavy and how to be practical and frugal.
We then took our longest hike yet with the help of a very special tool- a compass. Lots of Forest Friends learned how to properly use a compass by finding magnetic north and then heading the down the path. We tracked our progress of which direction we headed every time we came to a bend or fork in the road in case we ever wanted to hike it again.
Our travels took us all the way out to the edge of the property! We had some pretty tired legs on the way back, but we completed a circle around Irvine and Bauer Preserve’s property all while being aware of what directions we were heading the entire time! Go team Us!