February turned out to be another mix of unusually warm and unusually cold weather. On February 4 it was actually warm enough that several of the children went barefoot. This means that January was the only month so far that we have not had at least one barefoot day since the beginning of the school year.
This month we have talked a lot about animals in hibernation and plants being dormant. Although a few insects were spotted on warm days, most of the insects are still in hibernation this month. We discovered several bald-faced hornets sleeping in a decomposing tree stump and now we check on them every day to see if they have awakened. The spiders we saw last month seem to have gone back into hibernation as they have rarely been spotted this month.
We have talked a lot during February about erosion and the types of roots that different plants have. We have talked about anchor roots, tap roots, and roothairs and what each of their functions are. We have had an opportunity to talk about different types of soil as we dig in the damp loose dirt. We have been studying the top soil and talking about how dirt forms.
We had a lot of rain this month which lead to a great deal of water play. At our mud puddle we have been digging a river, building a dam, planting plants and covering roots to stop erosion, and building a bridge. We have again been talking about all of the various forms of mud including silky smooth, spotty, gooey, and liquid chocolate. Since we have mostly encountered spotty mud this month we have not seen any new animal tracks as those are visible best in our silky smooth mud.
This month we observed many signs of spring including new growth on the huckleberry plants, the salal and the trailing blackberry. We have found new nettle plants, shotweed, chickweed, and sticky wicky. One day we made a native salad that included miners lettuce, heal all, blackberry buds, Cedar tips, Doug fir buds, baby dandelion leaves, chickweed, fresh spring grass and huckleberry flower buds. Everyone agreed it was delicious!
We have put on many performances at our forest theater. We performed one play about the cycle of a plant, where the children pretend to sleep during winter, start to wiggle in early spring, rise above the soil and reach for the sun in spring, then make their flowers and their seeds in summer. We also learned that the first leaves of all new plants are called the cotyledons.
During the month of February we had a couple days of snow and ice. This gave us an opportunity to talk about the different forms of water. We were able to taste the snow and eat icicles. On the coldest day we took a field trip to a neighbor’s meadow to take advantage of the full sunlight there.
This month we heard some new bird calls including the pileated woodpecker, the nuthatch, and the robin. We also found a new mushroom called birds nest fungus that is appearing all over the forest floor.
By Erin Kenny ©2011