Evergreens in the Snow

The air glistened as the sunlight shined through the snow-covered-learning landscape. It was as if we were surrounded with a midst of sparking diamonds. We ventured through the meadow into Blandford’s conifer forest.

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Along the way we noticed different tracks, some appeared in a straight line, others looked like animals left their tracks in pairs.   There were “ooohs” and “aahhs” coming from the children as they took in the beauty of the landscape and arrived at the conifer forest.

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Each month – no matter the weather – Blandford Nature Center serves as the outdoor classroom for the students at West Side Christian School.

Related: Nature-based Preschool Collaboration

The students enjoyed exploring the area, while wearing snowshoes. While the children were out exploring a few students pointed out tracks, “We think these are deer tracks. They look like their legs left two fingers in the snow.” Other students created a science fiction story about life on the planet, “Hoth.” The uneven terrain made for some great opportunities for gross motor development.

When the “wolves” howled – we gave the signal –it was time to come to the circle. The forest classroom, filled with evergreens, created the context for our discussion about these evergreens and how people enjoy them in their homes at this time of the year. The students shared how they have been looking at the variety and shared their observations – their vocabulary for how these trees look, feel, and smell.

On our way back – following some rabbit tracks – to the ‘Learning Lab” we pretended to be some the animals that use the habitat to survive.  In the warm building the students enjoyed their snacks and a special story about some special trees.  We ended with some fine-motor muscle development – making playdough Christmas trees – and math counting – adding ornaments to our trees.

We would love to have your students out here too! Blandford’s beautiful and complex ecosystems are here so students can learn, engage, explore, enjoy and value nature’s endless wonders.  Blandford offers a variety of field trip experiences.

Also, if you’re interested in developing nature-based, place-based learning experiences like this for your students please contact Janet Staal at janet@blandfordnaturecenter.org.

In case you wanted to turn your next Blandford Nature Center visit into a learning adventure….

Here are some tips for some early childhood evergreen learning extension activities: 

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  1. STEM INQUIRY from The Preschool Toolbox Blog: Ask your child to build a simple Evergreen tree using only the simple supplies below.
  • Green Playdough
  • Craft Sticks
  • Stars or other decorations (optional)

The kids will ask HOW to build a tree.  Try to answer their questions with open-ended feedback to allow them to use critical thinking tools to solve the problem independently.  It is truly amazing to watch young kids creating, thinking, and learning through play.

  • Read the story, The Night Tree by Eve Bunting
  • Decorate a nearby evergreen with ornaments for the animals. Be on the look out for the animals that come to visit and leave their tracks.
  • Practice writing E’s and C’s in the snow. “E” is for Evergreen and “C” is for conifer.
  • When reading seasonal stories have your child count (tally) all the evergreen trees in the story. Compare two books and see which one had the most.
  • Come out for a visit to Blandford Nature Center, rent snowshoes or any nearby natural area and venture into the landscape with your child as your guide in search of conifers. Have your child use vocabulary to describe the needles: flat and friendly (pine), pokey, square (spruce), stem-lock (hemlock), no needles with cones (“Tammy” Tamarack – she dies her hair orange in the fall and then goes bald in the winter) or scaly (cedars).rent-snowshoes
  • Reinforce the shape identification of the trees – they look like triangles. Also expand color awareness by describing the variation to the shades of green.

Also, keep in mind the upcoming events:

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Family Snow Day

January 14, 2017 | Time: 2:00-3:30 pm

Bring your kids out for a fun day in the snow! Take a snowshoe hike out in the woods and practice using these giant shoes. We will hike to a spot where we will let our imaginations take over while we create snow forts or snow creatures depending on your family’s creativity. Snowshoe back to the visitor center where hot chocolate will be provided to warm you up!

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