Saturday, July 14, 2012

Be the Squirrel

Happily, I was at the Nature Center these past two weeks! Oh, what a week the 2nd week was! It was one of those groups of children where you can get caught up in the wind of the storm and not be a calm, yet energetic, force in the eye of the storm. You get the idea! You must accept the children as they are, build on their strengths, and adapt your well thought out plans! Sooooo.......sit down discovery circles? No!
Nick and I considered each day and adapted our "fact" sharing discovery circle time to one that was a hands on, feet moving experience! In this post, I will share what we did one day this week for our discovery time!

Looking at our objective, which was to learn about animals that make their homes in trees, we decided to focus on the Eastern Gray Squirrel. They are plentiful and easy to observe around here! Walking through the woods to our destination, we talked with the children about squirrel nests. They became quite good at spotting right size hollows in trees and the large ball of leaves/twigs, or drey, that squirrels build as an alternate nest up near the tops of trees.

The highlight of our learning today was the acorn hunt! Squirrels hide many caches of their food for later discovery. They use their memory and their sense of smell to find their caches. We decided the children could experience this first hand. We set up partner teams. We marked out natural boundaries by using the line of fallen logs and the brook bank to mark off the territory where we would hide our paper acorns.While one squirrel partner closed their eyes the other hid two paper acorns that had questions and answers written on them. Then the partner opened their eyes and located the hidden acorns using clues from their partner. Nick and I visited amongst the pairs, asking the questions and talking about the answer together. It was a fun and engaging way to "be the squirrel"!
We used a bright red card-stock to cut the acorns out of.
Here is one of our "squirrels" using clues from his partner's
 memory of where the acorn was hidden.
Found it!!

We felt it was important to have a wide range to "be the squirrel".

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