June Highlights: Learning About Earthworms, Hosting the Intro to Forest School Workshop and much more!

With summer weather finally here, we took the opportunity this month to get outside and learn about earthworms, how to harvest our own food, as well as hosting the Intro to Forest School Workshop put on by Forest School Canada.

Exploring the world of earthworms

Our investigation into precipitation, naturally evolved into an inquiry on worms. The school-agers put together a list of things that they already knew about worms, and then compiled some group questions about things they would like to know. Together through different mediums of research, they studied the characteristics of earthworms, what they eat, why they come out in the rain, and much more! 

We found out that earthworms use their slime in many ways. Their slime acts like sunscreen for them, and protects their bodies from drying out! They use their slime to help them maneuver through the earth and to push up through the soil. The school-agers were very interested in why we always see worms when it was raining, and they discovered that earthworms come out when it rains because they CAN! 

It is much easier for them to push their bodies through the dirt and soil when the soil is wet, so they use that opportunity to come out into the open. They also don’t have to worry about the harsh sun drying them up on a cloudy, rainy day. Unfortunately, on rainy days, earthworms are exposed above ground, which means that sometimes, a hungry robin can have a worm feast. Another predator that earthworms need to watch out for, is the star-nosed mole. Moles also live underground, and so if you ever see an earthworm above ground, when it ISN’T raining, it is probably because it is trying to escape a hungry mole.

We compiled a great list of earthworm characteristics, and are looking forward to extending our learning by researching our classroom “pets” the red wiggler compost worms, and drawing some comparisons between the two types of worms! Stay tuned!

Bringing up Caterpillars 

The Kinders were very excited to learn that we were getting our very own Painted Lady caterpillars. Karen surprised us early last week with the tiny little caterpillars in a cup of milkweed. The children were very curious and couldn’t wait to get a peak. This sparked many wonderful questions and got us talking a lot about caterpillars and butterflies. 

We read several books and learned that a caterpillars job is to eat and eat and eat so it can change into a beautiful butterfly. Did you know that a caterpillar will lose it’s skin several times before it turns into a chrysalis? This is because it is eating so much and growing so fast getting ready for the big change. We watched the caterpillars grow bigger and bigger over the next several days, even shedding some skin along the way. When we came back on Monday, we noticed something was different. All of those caterpillars were now hanging from the top of the container in their chrysalis. 

Angie brought her laptop in to share a video with us that was all about butterflies. We learned that once a Monarch butterfly hatches, they make their way to Mexico. 

That must be a long journey. So cool! After watching the video, it was time for us to transfer them to our butterfly habitat. We carefully attached the paper to the top of the habitat so they can safely transform. We are now waiting very patiently (about 2 weeks) for them to hatch into beautiful Painted Lady butterflies. The Kinders are excited to see what happens!!

Harvesting our lunch

We started our day in the garden today. Harvesting lettuce, spinach, chard, radishes, kale, kohlrabi and nasturtiums to make our salad for lunch. We washed everything and loved using the salad spinner. Then we grilled hot dogs over our campfire and enjoyed finishing off with baked apples yum! While all of that was going on, some of us enjoyed a hapazome activity, playing in the sandbox, and exploring our Nature Classroom for insects. What a great day!

Hosting the Forest School Workshop

Over the weekend (starting June 22), Discovery hosted the Intro to Forest School Workshop put on by Forest School Canada. 

We spent the weekend discussing the value of play, forest school ethos in our programs, benefits of risky play and of course we had the opportunity to play! We were honored to listen to some indigenous teachings about the strawberry moon and engaged in dialogue about indigenous perspectives in our programs. 

What a great weekend of collaboration and learning!
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