February 2020: Nature Notes - Sprouts Emergent Curriculum
Updated: Apr 23
C. Frank Andrews
The shortest month of the year has been action packed for the Sprouts at the Farmstead! This month we have the opportunity to learn about stewardship of the forest, observe the first signs of spring, and practice using tools to quantify the effects of the weather like rainfall and temperature.
Part of being good stewards of the forest means keeping it healthy by removing diseased or dangerous trees from the forest. While it is sad to have to cut down so many trees in our forest, it has given us an opportunity to talk about stewardship and what that really means. Some of our trees are carrying diseases that could spread to other trees in the forest. Since there is no way to cure the trees of their diseases, and because we don’t want the other trees in the forest to also get sick, we must be responsible stewards and remove the trees that pose a threat to the safety of the forest. It is also important that humans like us be able to safely enjoy the forest and any trees that might fall down and hurt someone would make it too dangerous for us to be in the forest. Removing the sick and dangerous trees not only keeps the forest safe, but it also keeps us safe. We have also had the chance to talk about all of the things that we can make with the wood from the trees to ensure that we are not wasting this valuable resource and so that we can thank and honor the trees that have been removed.
Spring is starting to show signs of its arrival, and while it is a little early it has been nice to see some color starting to return to the cove. The first thing the Sprouts have noticed is some of the plants are starting to grow. The grass is getting greener and starting to grow; the multi-flora roses’ leaf buds are starting to open and the daffodils and crocuses have already bloomed! The daylilies have started to grow larger and the Sprouts got the chance to dig some up and transplant them into pots and near the schoolhouse. Ms. J. and Lala noticed that last year the daylilies didn’t bloom down in Fortville where there is a lot of shade so the Sprouts and Littlest Learners are helping us test our hypothesis that they will bloom if they are grown in a sunnier spot.
We have also seen signs of spring in the form of animal activity. The Sprouts have observed a lot more squirrel activity over the last month. They have been seen scurrying around the forest looking for food before racing back to the still-bare trees. Some of the Sprouts think that they must have just woken up and are very hungry after their long sleep. We have also seen cardinals, crows, and hawks return to the cove and we have heard the drum of woodpeckers off in the distance. One Sprout found a feather that was grey at the base and red at the tip. We decided that it most likely came from a Cardinal since the tip of the feather was red. Sadly some of our chickens have been taken as prey by the hawk(s) in our cove. This has given us a chance to talk about predators and what they eat in order to survive. While we want to protect our chickens and keep them safe, we also understand the hawks are only following their instincts in order to live and we respect the hawks as an important component of the food web. Speaking of our chickens: we have noticed that they are laying a lot more eggs than before and they are laying colors that we have never seen before. This makes us think that they young chickens must finally be laying eggs too! We have been getting between 20 and 30 eggs each day!
The Sprouts have also been able to use some new weather instruments added to the school yard by Ms. J.. We now have a rain gauge near the picnic tables that allow the Sprouts to talk about the rain in terms of quantity. The simple low numbers on the rain gauge give Sprouts a chance to recognize and talk about numbers in a concrete way. Ms. J. also added a thermometer near the rain gauge which provides a little more of a challenge. These numbers are larger and there are two sets to decipher: Celcius and Farenheit. This gives a chance for a more challenging way to read and talk about numbers and how they are connected to our daily lives. We also now have a windsock that lets us see which direction the wind is blowing and it gives us a rough idea of how strong the wind is blowing. We now have even more tools at our disposal to talk about what we are seeing, hearing, and feeling during our times connecting with nature outdoors and we are excited to see what next month has in store for us.