Happy Belated Thanksgiving Everyone! We hope everyone had a fulfilling holiday full of food, family and fun. Here at Irvine on the 14th we started our class with an opening circle where we all went around and shared at least one thing we’re grateful and thankful for, it was a fantastic start to the day!
The day was beautiful and comfortable and we were really excited to explore more plants and hopefully find signs of animals. It was also a great day to do some Nature Journaling! On our way to look for animal tracks near the creek in the mud we found some rose hips. Rose hips are the tiny fruit left behind after the beautiful rose flower is done and they are edible. They also are packed full of Vitamin C, so they’re really a good resource to know about if you ever need to survive off the land.
After we got to the creek, played around in the mud and found a few animal tracks like a deer and raccoon we headed off to another watery area to see if we could find a better spot for tracks. Along the way we saw a Northern Harrier hovering low above the meadows looking for a meal. These birds are related to hawks, they have a face that resembles a barn owl with the heart shaped disks and long wings perfect for gliding. It was perfect timing that we would run into a pile of down feathers left over from a dead bird, the fluffy down feathers being the only things left. The bird was unidentifiable and it is possible that that Northern Harrier could have been responsible.
Along the way to the cattail ponds, which we were hoping to look for tracks at, we found some animal scat, left on the trail to mark the trail. It is most likely fox scat! Given the size, shape and contents. It is another example of an animal trace that we have found. After checking on our survival shelter which needs a bit of repairing after the winds that have blown through we sat down to do some Nature Journaling.
We traced and drew leaves, did some leaf rubbings and wrote some haikus! Nature Journaling is a great way to relax, learn more about nature in a different and creative way and take a piece of nature (and a memory) home with out without taking nature home too. Whenever you open your creative mind to journaling you’ll be very surprised at how easy it is to lose track of time and get lost in the world of nature. It is also a great tool for teaching children about art and english skills, since writing is a big portion of nature journaling. It also builds confidence and shows children that anyone can draw and it’s not so much about being a great artist or creating a beautiful picture but being proud of your work, learning something from it and gaining new skills.
After getting lost in journaling, we played a really fun game called Black Magic. This game is actually a riddle and riddles are a fun and interactive way to spark critical thinking skills and encourage problem solving, since the goal of the riddle is to find the answer! The nature of the game also gives enough hints that the kids can figure out but they will likely have to offer many guesses with a lot of wrong answers until they solve the riddle. This game and others like it also expand awareness by encouraging the kids to be mindful of the surroundings and aware of the riddle itself. We will definitely be playing this riddle more and others like it! We hope that the kids will be able to share these riddles with their families.