"Let nature be your teacher." --William Wordsworth
This spring my class learned a bit about measurement, multiplication and statistical analysis while studying in our bulb garden. Each student observed his/her own square foot of daffodils and crocuses as they grew and eventually withered. The plants were measured, counted and observed over time. In addition, we calculated the area, perimeter and average number of plants in the garden. The bonus was we also got outside in the beautiful spring air and learned a bit about the nature of bulbs.
Later this spring, each student planted a milkweed plant (Asclepias syriaca) into our new Certified Monarch Waystation. We flagged them so that we could check on their progress. We learned that rabbits love to eat baby milkweed but that many of the roots survived and sprouts came up despite the hungry bunnies. The milkweed was donated by Ilse Gebbard. She has donated hundreds of milkweed plants to classes in Kalamazoo and to us at North Shore Elementary. She has also shared hundreds of monarch caterpillars with thousands of students throughout West Michigan. Ilse, along with her husband Russ, have been transformative in the lives of many students both young and old. They have enriched my life and my students' lives. Students come back every year to share stories of birds they have seen or monarchs they have found. That enthusiasm was certainly planted by Russ and Ilse and hopefully will continue to grow in them as it has in me. Thank you Ilse and Russ!
|Monarch Eggs on Milkweed|
"If you plant it, they will come." --Erik Mollenhauer (founder of The Monarch Teacher Network)
The last few weeks of school, we found monarch eggs on milkweed plants in our school gardens! The first days of school last fall we reared several monarchs from eggs and sent them on their way to Mexico. This spring the monarchs returned and the cycle continues... On the last day of school those who wanted one took a caterpillar or chrysalis of their choosing to rear at home. I have eighteen more at my house that will become butterflies in the days ahead. I can't wait!
"Here is this vast, savage, howling mother of ours,
Nature, lying all around, with such beauty, and such affection for her children, as the leopard; and yet we are so early weaned from her breast to society, to that culture which is exclusively an interaction of man on man. There is something very gratifying in sharing a love for the plants and animals in our backyard." -- Henry David Thoreau
It was a wonderful year full of outdoor learning! I hope that my students learned to appreciate this amazing natural world that is all around us when we take a little time to look and listen closely. I hope those observation skills continue through the summer as monarchs drift through backyards and milkweed-rich gardens, laying eggs and flying north. I hope that they spot the birds that we learned about and looked for on our various outdoor adventures. I hope that they notice the milkweed and other plants that grow, both voluntarily and those that were planted, and that they appreciate them both. But most of all, I hope that they have developed a love and respect for this "howling mother of ours, Nature, lying all around, with such beauty and such affection . . . "
Peace and love to all of us creatures both great and small!
|Bonus find in the field|