Hello and welcome all to the Forest Explorers Blog! On our first week, we headed down to the gazebo to introduce ourselves and talk about what we wanted to do in the class. We then went to the meadow to play one of my favorite games of all time…. FOX TAILS!
Fox tails is a simple and versatile game: easy to set up and easy for lots of fun! You need 1 bandana or scarf or long piece of cloth for each person playing. Each person tucks a small part of their bandana into their pocket or the waist of their pants leaving the longer part to hang down like a “Fox Tail”. The goal is to try to get lots of fox tails! The way I often play is that you can only have 2 bandanas on at any time, and when you capture a third “tail” you have to give that one away to a friend who has no tails! Lastly, If you have no tails, you have to stay where you were when your tail got swiped. You can however still swipe tails in your spot and then run around again once you swipe a tail or receive one from a friend. I love this game because it teaches how stalk up quietly to take someones tail, how to lookout for your friends who have no tails, as well as spatial awareness because you have to be paying attention to and navigate around lots of different people who are trying to take your tails! I have played this game with adults on several occasions and they seem to have just as much fun as the kids do!
Afterwards we headed down the trail to the creek! On the way we met a few awesome plant friends, If you want to learn about Plantain and Perilla please check out the blog I have for my Living Off of The Land class. I will probably repeat several things in both classes so for the sake of not being super boring I will not repeat everything in both blogs 🙂
We also met the plant Wood Sorrel (Oxalis) known as sour grass for good reason because it is very sour! It is a really cool plant because it is easy to identify and tastes great! Note the 3 heart shaped leaflets. Many people commonly mistake wood sorrel with clovers but clovers have rounded leaflets. Luckily for us, both clovers and wood sorrel are edible and abundant! It is probably one of the best and easiest ingredients to add to a wild-harvested salad! It is high in vitamin C and can be used as a blood cleanser! Oxalic acid is what makes it sour and is also found in Mile-a-minute which we shall learn about another day. If you eat a ton of foods with oxalic acid you can leach calcium out of your bones, but you won’t have to worry unless you eat it in large quantities on a regular basis. I hope that doesn’t make you shy away from eating Wood sorrel because chocolate, beets, spinach, peanuts and a bunch of other things people eat all the time also have large quantities of oxalic acid! That being said, as with all things, only consume in moderation. Read these if you want to know more http://www.eatthatweed.com/oxalic-acid/
Once we got to the creek, the fun and creativity was impossible to stop. We caught frogs, a giant toad, made mud masks, built forts, explored the creek, got wet, jumped into the water and over the creek, built swales and dams, journaled, moved big rocks and sticks, and even caught a crayfish!
Crayfish also known as crawdads or freshwater lobsters are exactly that, mini lobsters than live in bodies of freshwater. They breathe through feather-like gills and feed on living and dead animals and plants! They are edible as well as make great bait for fishing. Something cool I like to show the kids is that you can gently grip where their tails meet the rest of their body on the back and they won’t be able to pinch you. Then even cooler, you can test their grip strength by giving them up to pencil size sticks and watch them pinch and hold onto something several times longer than their bodies! One last interesting tidbit is that the southeastern part of North America, of which Maryland is a part of, has the MOST diverse amount of crayfish species in the world with over 330 species!
Despite all of our fun at the creek, we went back to meet the parents to end our day. I hope all of your kids had as much fun as Ms. Beth and I did! They are awesome forest explorers!
See you all next week! ~ Andrew 🙂