Thursday, September 29, 2011

A Backyard Gift

Meet my newly hatched monarch friend!  Last Saturday, I stopped by the classroom to feed our frogs and toads (all gifts from our backyard).  We also had three monarch chrysalises (given to us by a friend of the class).  They had all turned dark and translucent and I knew they would be out soon.  I stopped back on Sunday and found three amazing butterflies.  We missed the coming out, but it was great to see them all healthy and flying.  We brought in all sorts of flowering plants from our backyard and made large bouquets, hoping that they would find nourishment.  (I also set out sponges with hummingbird nectar although I never saw them feed on them.)  We let them fly about our room for three days before freeing them.  We have so many questions . . . Where are they going?  What do they eat? (They did seem to like our ragweed bouquet, although I wasn't nearly as fond of it.)  Do they sleep?   How long does it take to go from a caterpillar to a butterfly?  We hope to find out more about these insects in the days ahead.  But one thing we all learned is that monarchs are amazing.  And since their release, students have kept a keen eye out for monarchs in the wild and on the soccer fields.  I do believe that, after watching them flutter through our room this week, we all hold a special place in our hearts for thess creatures of beauty and grace. 

Saturday, September 10, 2011

The First Week of School and the Coming of Autumn

Liberty Hyde Bailey believed that building a connection to nature is the first step to understanding and learning about nature.  He  thought that students needed to be learning, working and observing outside in the fields and woods of their own communities.  He knew that hands-on experience was critically important to developing knowledge.  Teachers today talk about "multiple intelligences" and "developmentally appropriate" curriculum.  Liberty Hyde Bailey used different vocabulary but he was saying the very same thing, a hundred years ago.  I guess anyone who loves to teach and loves to learn, knows that the first step to learning is developing an interest and a connection.  It's all about making things meaningful.  As we work on developing the Liberty Hyde Bailey Interpretive Garden Path, we hope to make a place for students to learn about and experience nature in our own backyard.  

Last Thursday, my class and I went outside for our daily run around the soccer field.  A large flock of geese had taken over the field and were grazing on the lawn.  As we ran our morning lap, we listened and watched as the flock took flight.  Later, we went outside, sat down and listened to and observed the field in our backyard.  It was filled with the chattering of insects and birds.  There was a cool breeze reminding us that fall was on its way.  Students wrote words to help describe the feelings and sounds of their surroundings and came inside and wrote poems about autumn.  The following is a poem from Zayne. 

I Am Autumn
By Zayne

I am the geese that the wind brushes against me
I am the grass that wonders why I'm dry
I am the trees that smell the wind
I am the leaves that think they will fall off
I am the crickets that see the trees moving
I am flowers that hear winter coming
I am Autumn