After an amazing first week with the younger class, I was really looking forward to the 10-14 class. I had been able to meet most of the students at play time and snack time, and I knew two or three of them from around town.
Most of these kids have been around Slab Creek since Kindergarten. Each year they create their own field guide for the area. I read through 4 years of their books to see what was collected and studied, and what level of Nature Study they were used to. Samples, Drawings, and Field Guide entries – we were on the same page.
Thinking about the students, we went a different route of learning focus for the week. Creek Exploration – Explorers. Equipping each student with a compass, we learned all about the various parts and how to use one. We played a couple of compass/orienteering games in the field and in their auditorium (largest floor space). While exploring outside, the emphasis was on finding landmarks and new to them plants.
Oyster Mushrooms were abundant on the trail the first day. Usually on dead red alder trees, fresh after a rain on the first day of direct sunlight, they will come back all summer long. Tasty. If you have a guide – to make sure you have the right ones, be sure to soak them for a few minutes in water to get all the tiny bugs out – they are a buggy/white wormy – specimen. Speaking of eating, they learned that the Foxglove is used by the medical field to speed up heart rates.
This crowd could cover some ground quickly! The first day felt like River Racing. Crazy fast. They were all wanting to explore the next bend and be the first to see something new.
Each section of the river was given names created by the students. Tight rope, Petrified Roots, Sun Pass Road, Jacuzzi, Whomping Willow, Trident, etc.
The first day we came back and mapped out the area we walked. It proved to be harder than they thought. They were so focused on running up stream, they didn’t pay attention to how the river bent, or what was on the north or south sides of the stream, or that the stream was moving east to west.
They started paying more attention to the shapes of the rocks, which gave us Toilet Rock, Stair Step Rock, and Choo Choo Train Pass. The next day, we wrote down the words on cards and put them out in order on the long lunch tables.
Listening to their reasoning and observational tags was entertaining. Why this card goes before that . . .
The big hunt was for the deepest pools to swim in.
On the last day we filled Sunny Pass Road with these creations.
By the end of the week, we had two table lengths of long white paper laid out, with landmark names of the river for about a mile section. They knew their directions (NESW) in regards to the playground, to the basketball court, to the classrooms, to the creek, to the various landmarks. They drew the river based on their cards and descriptions. It really turned out fantastic, considering the tiny amounts of time we had before lunch.
One game I like to play with explorers is to send out an explorer to find an interesting object, then write down exact directions to send a second explorer out to find the same location.
There is a game for orienteering where you have a set number of steps that, if done precisely, you’ll end up at your starting point. All of the kids did it, and all of them ended up 2 feet away. They tried changing the pace of their steps, moving the starting mat, changing the directions, etc. It led to great discussions of how hard the early explorers must have had it – to sail a ship across the Atlantic, find one spot on the Atlantic coast, travel to a settlement, and get back to their home country. We had a hard time walking in a square in the field. Ha.
Two weeks of Creek Explorations, two weeks of fun, different ages of students, different focus points – lots of all around learning and fun.