Early Childhood Programs Blog

Teachin’ with Tools!

December 2, 2017 - Forest Dreamers

Without tools, Irvine would just be a giant, untamed forest. There would be no trails, no trail signs, no building, parking lot or outdoor classroom! To make all of these things, Mr. Wally and crew has had to plan, measure, hammer, dig, weigh, and mark everything on the property that is not off-trail.  We decided this week to use some mathematical tools of our own!


     This Monday we started the day off learning how to use scales. We put many different things on the scale and found that the pumpkin was the heaviest and even Ms. Paula’s phone couldn’t equalize the scale. We then learned about measuring length as well as weight. We learned to use rulers and measuring tape

s and even our own bodies! We found a patch of dirt where we were able to become contractors and measure out our city to make sure it was up to code. Then, after each city was built the real fun began: Destruction! During snack on Mr. Wally’s hay wagon, we read Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs by Judi Barrett, which is a strange tale about a city where all of their food comes from the sky instead of normal weather. We ventured over to the wetlands after snack and found tons of algae to play with.

     On Wednesday we continued as contractors building cities, this time with sand in the Outdoor Classroom. We made a whole town with a grocery store, convenience store, post office, city hall, houses and roads. We decided to head out to the back secret meadow, where many people at Irvine have never explored. We crossed over a stream on the way and sat down on the bank to play, eat snack and listen to The Lorax by Dr. Seuss. We explored the trails at the secret meadow and even went off trail at the back of the meadow where not many people venture. We even found the edges of the property!  On the way back we walked through all of the new wetland areas that were recently created here at Irvine.



Our gang had a special visit from a filmmaker this week. Miss Amanda is a college student and wanted to see and document how us forest folks spend our mornings!

We started by learning about a brand new tool- a measuring tape! We took turns each measuring our height and documented the results. We then decided who was the shortest, who was the tallest and which of us were the same height. We then talked about other ways we could measure if we didn’t have our handy tape measure! We found out we can measure with hands, feet, sticks and even our whole bodies! We used our height information to try and guess how tall other things were. For instance, if the student was  48 inches tall and stood next to a bird box that was slightly taller, we’d assume that the bird box measurement was slightly more  than 48in (maybe 55 would be a good guess…). We each got our own tape measure and went to town! We measured all sorts of things!

We ended up at the bottom of the meadow, tape measures flying behind us like ribbons! At the Ed hut, we were able to measure the length of the hut by using our bodies. It took exactly 4 Forest Dreamers lying from end to end to get our result. We then added the heights of the 4 friends that were lying down and concluded that the Ed hut was 181 inches long!

On Thursday, we broke out all of the tools we had used all season! We had shovels, measuring tape, compasses, scissors etc. and were introduced to a new tool- a scale! We used balancing scales to see how much things weighed in comparison to one another. Keeping the scales balanced was a much harder task than we all thought and it was fun to pile up one side and try to see if we could get the other side to match!

While we were finding things to balance, we made an interesting but sad discovery. A dead sparrow was on the ground near the building! We halted our measuring to discuss the fate of our little friend. We deducted that the bird had just died and that it was most likely due to flying into something. He did not have any markings on him that would indicate that he was struggling with a predator.

We ended up having to use many of our tools to give our friend a little funeral. One FD was the wayfinder with a compass that decided exactly where we should lie the little bird to rest. He decided on a place near the bird blind because we imagined that it would have been a place that the bird would have liked to visit if it was alive. Our FD with shovels worked together and dug a hole, our friends with pails collected the dirt and covered the little bird once he was in the hole and finally, our friends with scissors cut little decorations for our bird’s gravestone.

We all said a few nice words and said our goodbyes. <3

We ended up having snack on the trail and read the book Rainbow Crow by Nancy Van Lann. It is a folktale that explains how crow, who once had beautiful rainbow feathers got his black feathers and a croaky voice. We thought the choice of story to be very appropriate due to our recent funeral precession.