It has been a glorious month with some weather warm enough for us to finally go barefoot and even shed our rain pants for a couple of days as the ground is drying out. The insects are busy moving about, in the air and across the ground. We have seen several different kinds of bumblebees, many black beetles and quite a few millipedes. One day we got a rare opportunity to watch closely as a bald-faced hornet attacked and ate a smaller insect – it was a fascinating glimpse into a predator-prey moment.
We are talking about metamorphosis and the four stages in the life of every insect – egg, larva, pupa and adult. In the butterfly these are called the egg, caterpillar, chrysallis, and butterfly. We have native painted lady caterpillars that the kids are raising, and they have more than quadrupled in size in one week and will be making their chrysallis’ soon. The butterflies will be ready to release sometime in the next two weeks and the butterflies hover in the area of release for a couple of weeks!
We have been noticing the towhee pair is approaching us closer and closer each week. We feel like we know them now and talk to them. We are learning about what they eat (insects, fruit and seeds) and why they scratch on the ground. We have seen their tracks in the mud and talked about why their feet have 3 narrow toes in front and 1 in back (for grabbing branches). We’ve compared birds’ beaks and noticed that they are shaped differently depending on their food. We also talked about the different kinds of feathers birds have, including their soft inner down feathers.
This month we have engaged in alot of story telling. I started making salal leaf books with a twig binding and reading them like a book – they were a huge hit and soon all the children were telling their own stories form their own “books”. We have also had a few performance days where we acted out our stories.
We have been watching the growth and progress of the plants, turning from sprouts to seedlings. We have talked alot about the life cycle of trees: seed, seedling, sapling, mature; and forest ecology: humus, forest floor, canopy, shrubs/bushes; and the parts of a tree: roots, trunk, branches, leaves, crown, bark, sap. We have definitely noticed that the sap has gotten sticky with the warmer weather!
All of the children have been extra energetic this month with the warming weather. The forest floor is drier and some kids have even been doing somersaults on the trail. There has been alot of running on the trails and movement and dance throughout the forest. We have gotten out our yoga cards several times and practiced our poses.
We have found some new foraging treats. The doug fir bright green branch tips have been falling to the ground and make a tasty nibble. We are eating the sweet evergreen huckleberry flowers which are scenting the forest like honey. The salal flowers (fairy lanterns) are in full bloom and make a great addition to our forest tea.
By Erin Kenny ©2010