Early Childhood Programs Blog

Forest Dreamers Begins!

September 16, 2018 - Forest Dreamers

What a GREAT start to our Forest Dreamers class! Ms. Kelly, Ms. Stephanie and myself have been looking forward to getting back onto the trails this fall with our young Forest Dreamers! We started our time off this week by introducing our “Good Morning” song and getting to know each other. We have a great group of children and are taking our time getting to know each other and Irvine!

M/W Forest Dreamers:

We began our class Monday by meandering down the Vista loop trail towards the gazebo. We made slow progress because we were observing and discussing the different mushrooms along the trail. We noticed that some had gills underneath, some were growing in the ground, some were growing on logs, some were hard, and some were delicate. We described the fungus as looking like “bonnets, fans, tea cups, and turkey tails”! We also talked about how mushrooms help to make soil.  As we were making our way, we also noticed the birds in the bushes and went to investigate.  We decided that the red berries of the Spice bush could be attracting the birds. When the dreamers learned they could eat spice bush berries, everyone wanted to try some! Although we didn’t care for the taste, we all agreed to use the leaves and bark for tea when the weather cooled down!

Since it was raining, we decided to make the day about water! We ended up exploring the stream, “slipping” into the water, and practicing our balance on the rocks. One of our friends spotted raccoon tracks in the mud by the water. Since the water was muddy from the rain, we talked about how we could check the depth of the water by using sticks (not that this stopped some from jumping in)!

We ended up the Monday in the meadow looking at the milkweed hoping for a glimpse of a monarch butterfly! All we found were grasshoppers hiding out on the leaves. As we were walking back to collect our packs, we made up a song about the milkweed:

Milkweed, Milkweed tasty for the Monarchs.

Caterpillar…Butterfly, Flying down to Mexico!


On Wednesday we headed off in a different direction! We set off for the Native American site on the Bauer property. We proceeded down the “rocky” road and were amazed at the GIANT leaves of the Paulownia Tree! It looked like an assortment of umbrellas in the canopy.  As we were making our way, we came upon some Autumn Olive bushes. Ms. Kelly showed the kids how they can identify the bush by looking at the silvery underside of the leaves! After that, we sampled the bush’s harvest! These bitter berries soon became a hit and we had to collect some for our families. We also gathered some non-edible berries for a project later.

Just before the Native American site, we noticed some scat! Since dogs aren’t allowed on the property, we hypothesized that it was either fox or most likely coyote. We used sticks as tools to break up the scat to gather clues as to what it ate. We observed a lot of hair and even a persimmon seed.

Once we arrived at the Native American site, we explored the longhouse and the stumps. We had our snack while listening to “The First Strawberries” by Joseph Bruchoc around the fire ring.

On the route back, we stopped to climb in the 7 truck tree. while some of our friends pretended to make a home in the tree, another one make a structure with sticks by the trunk. We spent some time finding slugs, spiders, worms, and caterpillars!

Once we made it back to the gazebo, we gathered the children together for a berry smashing experiment. We smashed all the different types of berries we collected on the paper, making predictions about the color of the “smash” and if it would change colors when dried. Everyone got into the fun and a few friends even made their own berry pictures.  We had an “Edible” Day in Forest Dreamers!

T/Th Forest Dreamers:

This misty morning started in the Glen as usual. We gathered our crew together and sang “Good Morning” to the Forest. Our friends had LOTS of energy this morning so we decided to get moving.  As we made our way down the vista loop, we noticed the rain glistening off the spiderwebs in the trees. We even saw a web that was shaped like a heart!

Some ran and some meandered down the meadow trail to the Ed Hut. We stopped to check out the spider webs that were built in the grasses close to the ground.  One web was so full that it almost looked opaque!

After our snack, we were curious if the rain would make the stream to strong to play in. We quickly set about scouting the banks, mud, small pools, and vegetation.  Ms. Stephanie showed our friends what wood sorrel looked like and how to identify it. We also observed that it to had a heart shaped leaf like our web from earlier! Our friends all enjoyed the lemony taste of this small plant.

Before we headed back to the Nature Center, we wanted to explore the pond close by. One of our friends observed that the water from the pond disappeared under the rock bed and then dumped into the stream having traveled underground. We tossed in some leaves to watch the current as the water emerged from the rocks.  Most of the children tested their balance walking on the log, although several just waded through the water! We collected water in buckets and “watered” the root ball. We noticed a dead mouse in the water and discussed how it got there…did it escape from a hawk only to fall in the water and drown??

On Thursday we were all set to sit at the tree stumps when we discovered a mom mouse nursing her young under a stump. We quickly rolled the log back over her nest and chose somewhere else to have our gathering circle!

We started off down the “rocky” road and took turns pulling and pushing the wagon. We are working on our endurance so that we can explore further places! We introduced a new code for “freeze”: Cheeseburger, cheeseburger, cheeseburger, which is the sound that the Carolina Wren makes. Several of our friends enjoyed freezing when we sang this tune! As we headed up the next hill, we found some Autumn Olive bushes. Ms. Stephanie showed the group how to identify the bush by looking under the leave for the silvery color.  We ate our share of berries, leaving a few for the other animals!

After we ate snack, we arrived at the Native American village. Once we got there, the kids shed their packs and enjoyed some creative play! They were part of a tribe running back and forth between the houses.  The children rebuilt the fire ring in the long house, collected sticks, and built a pretend fire. Others walked up to the garden and talked about the Three Sisters of the garden…corn, squash, and beans.  As they played, some children gathered some charcoal from the fire ring and drew on the stumps.  Before we left, we took a group shot of our friends on the canoe, or tree house in the making as some called it!

This week was an awesome start to our semester and we look forward to seeing where our kids take us next week!

Happy Exploring,

Ms. Avril, Ms. Stephanie, and Ms. Kelly

(We are working a photo sharing site and as soon as we have this set up, I will have more picture available!)

Monday/Wednesday Pictures

Tuesday/Thursday Pictures: