Grade 4 – Young Explorers Recording Discoveries and Making Connections

Grade 4 visits to the garden were split over the October holiday, 01 to 11 October. It’s amazing to see how just ten days can bring so many changes at this time of year. Autumn is a time to notice changes in nature. The brambles are just about gone, although a few intrepid explorers were able to taste the last few brambles hanging on their purple, thorny canes. The conker tree has given over its treasures to the squirrels, while the medlars wait for the first frost to ripen. The orb spiders are busy capturing the last of the crane flies, hoping to fill their bellies before they all disappear for the year.

We spent each morning recording our observations through notes, mapping locations and sketching. Going out in small scouting parties, we explored the hedgerows, tracked the fox, crept up on the gulls and followed the wagtails. The weather changed by the moment, each day presenting us with its own challenges, as well as its own sense of adventure. It was great to see the kids who have been coming out to the project for several years interact with the newbies, taking them along to show them the hidden treasures.

In the afternoon we created class murals – drawing the plants, animals and elements of nature we have discovered over the years and then creating a web of connections. As we constructed our mural, we began to notice the interconnectedness of everything.  It turned out to be a work both of of art and of science.

The very end of the day was spent learning a little of John Muir, the great naturalist who was greatly responsible for the protection of the world’s wilderness through the creation of the first national parks.

These were days filled with curiosity and building a sense of connectedness. We took our time, concentrated on a couple big activities – and the high level of engagement was the payoff. These days were proof that less, done well, is definitely more!

 

Let’s see if we can get closer.
(Click photo to view Grade 4 – Phillips Gallery)

Do you see how big this one is?
(Click photo to view Grade 4 – Sedjo Gallery)

When we slow down, there is a lot more to see!
(Click photo to view Grade 4 – Kish Gallery)

Look, did you see that?
(Click photo to view Grade 4 – Howe Gallery)

Everything here is connected one way or the other. Even humans!
(Click photo to view Grade 4 – Robertson Gallery)

 

Grade 2 – Autumn Signs: Crane Flies and Orb Spiders

This week Grade 2 experienced the first week of autumn searching for orb spiders in the hedgerow and finding crane flies fluttering in the cooling air. We took time to notice the bits of nature that often go undetected.

Every day at Canons Park is unpredictable. Monday it rained, but still we managed to have a great day and spent most of the morning observing nature and recording our discoveries. As it turned out, it was a great day for finding toads hiding under the old beech logs. Tuesday we got stuck in with clearing the garden beds for the winter planting. Thursday and Friday we hauled compost in our wheelbarrows, giving the soil in our garden a needed refresh.

Canons Park is filled with opportunities to be spontaneous, partly due to the weather, but also because every group that comes up has it’s own blend of personality, interests and talent. Each day is unique. Sometimes sport is the centre. Sometimes exploration and the naturalist’s curiosity take over. Sometimes artistic or culinary creation take centre stage. Whatever activities are planned, we most often need to adapt them to the peculiarities of the moment and that makes each and every day fresh and exciting.

This week we recorded our nature observations of the hedgerow in our journals, created seed mosaics from our collections, and learned why it’s important to close the door as the cooler seasons are approaching. We spoke of where the natural gas comes from that heats our homes and buildings. We began to see how the seasons affect the plants and animals surrounding us and how those seasons are caused by the happy accident of the tilt of our planet in relation to our sun. We flexed our muscles as we prepared the garden for winter. And we learned the importance of dressing for our changeable weather as we donned and removed our layers of clothing several times each day. Lots of questions, a multitude of discoveries and plenty of smiles all around.

We get a lot done when we work together!
(Click photo to view Grade 2 – Kirstein Gallery)

Sometimes we see more when we look together. Did you see the butterflies dance?
(Click photo to view Grade 2 – Puntereri Gallery)

Turning over the soil is hard work!
(Click photo to view Grade 2 – Cuadrado Gallery)

Creating these mosaics takes a lot of concentration.
(Click photo to view Grade 2 – Eyles Gallery)

Grade 1 – September Bramble Days

Grade 1 spent the morning practicing tracking skills, hunting for different kinds of birds. We found terns, wagtails, rooks, sea gulls, crows and magpies. We heard a robin singing up in one of the evergreens. Magpies look like they are wearing tuxedos. Terns fly very quickly. The wagtails go three bumps on the ground with their long tails when they land. … We never know what we will see. Sometimes the fox shows up. Sometimes he doesn’t.

We ate snack outside, but the yellow jacket wasps were trying to eat our food. We tried our best to stay calm. No one got stung.

During free time we played soccer, climbed on the playground equipment, dug holes in the garden and filled them with water. We found snails and slugs, which we transported to the big oak tree, so they won’t eat our plants.

After free time, we split into two groups. One group found some brambles and made them into bramble / apple tarts. The other group worked in the garden and learned about wheat and oats. Then we switched.

We ate lunch inside, because of the wasps. We ate VERY quietly, using whispers.

After lunch we painted with bramble juice from the berries that we collected in the morning. We finished off the day with a short free time and ate our bramble tarts. YUMM!

Brambles and apples are a great combination!
(Click on photo to view Grade 1 – Shaw Gallery)

We know not to get close to the fox.
(Click on photo to view Grade 1 – Abastillas Gallery)

 

Bramble juice makes good paint!
(Click on photo to view Grade 1 – Seeds Gallery)

These brambles taste great!
(Click on photo to view Grade 1 – Kember Gallery)

TEAM BUILDING DAYS

This is the Lower School Outdoor Education Project’s eighth year. Each September brings grade-levels up to spend one day at the fields to play games, build friendships and learn to work as a team.

After these multi-class team-building days, each class returns to visit the outdoor site three or four more times during the school year. The visits are spread throughout the seasons to give everyone the experience of the changes that happen in nature throughout the year.

For some, this was their first visit to the project. For others this was a welcoming back. We exercised our muscles with the run around the field. We played on the amazingly lush green fields.

We explored the hedgerow, picked a few brambles and wandered through the garden.  These days are dedicated to renewing and building new friendships.

This year the spirits were very high as we  enjoyed some of the finest days of the summer, filled with sunshine and fresh air!

“Do you like what I created?”
(Click to view K1 gallery)

“I’m a friend of animals. I dug holes for snails and slugs to live in.”
(Click for K2 Gallery.)

“Sometimes it takes a little help from our friends!”
(Click to view Grade 1 gallery)

“Let’s see if we can get it to stay up for a long time!”
(Click to view Grade 2 gallery)

Look at the brambles. They’re ripe. Can I eat them?
(Click to view Grade 3 gallery.)

This is the best raspberry ever! Awesome!!!
(Click to view Grade 4 Gallery)