The Joy of returning to September is setting up our intentional learning weeks again! Which means we are back to the Friday Outdoor Hour Challenge. This week is the Outdoor Hour Challenge: Insects: Leaf Miners and Leaf Rollers. I planned to introduce this to my NVS kids this week as their introductory lesson. It is perfect for them. Since NVS is a place based nature based school, and they are up to the 7th grade, it is hard to introduce a topic to them. I remember when Jon and I did Leaf Miners together it was fascinating, as it was right there, where we see it every day, but we had not ever really observed it.
Which is why I love OHC Fridays. There are many things in our yards and nearby parks that are very familiar. That we see. Pass by. But we do not spend intentional time observing it. I showed the kids the videos on the blog post above, and they were excited to find them. I had spent a bit of time during one of our outdoor periods to scope out if they were on the property, which they were, so I did lead them in the direction of where they could be found.
We set off with our magnifying lenses and quickly found some in the trees by the creek.
We took four to five samples with us back to the classroom to help with our Nature Journals. We did a Sun study from the Handbook of Nature Study on Wednesday. I quickly found that that students were not trained to do outdoor studies – intentional learning times – out of doors well. So I went back to the basics and re-visited the getting started steps on the blog. They have their own nature journals, but I also printed out two simple starting nature journal notebooking pages. Almost all of the students picked the notebooking journals.
The class stayed engaged and excited to be on a treasure hunt of sorts. After about 5 minutes all craziness of excitement broke out. They had found this little green caterpillar with spots that looked like yellow and black eyes. My camera doesn’t do his glowing green color justice. If you look closely, he is already building his cocoon.
We also found quite a few of the critters below, but didn’t know what they were.
The Bookmobile came to the school and interrupted the class – so lost a half an hour of the OHC time – we did get time to work on our Nature Notebooking Pages, but didn’t get to look under the microscope or look up what we found in the field guides or use the computers.
I did look it up when we got home and found out that they are the Larvae and Caterpillar of the Western Tiger Swallowtail, Papilio rutulus.
They have long tails on their hind wings that look like those of the swallows, so they call them swallowtails. The Swallowtail starts as an egg, which hatches the larvae, which looks like bird droppings. The larvae eats the leaves and turns green as it loses its old skin many times and grows into the bright green 2 inch specimen that we saw above.
I look forward to chatting about this with the kids next week. I left out the leaves and the microscope for monday.
I wrote the suggestion on the board to write down 1 thing that we heard, 2 things that we saw, and 3 things that we felt. A couple of the students asked ‘what kind of felt’. How they felt? or What they felt. I tried not to cry. They are just the most amazing group of students ever. They all decided to write the answer to both.
Being able to teach a nature based, place based curriculum – to students grades 4-7? Just about the next greatest thing to homeschooling your own children. After 15 years of experience with the boys, sharing how to learn with a new set of students feels like the greatest job ever.
Wondering what NVS is? The Neskowin Valley School – where we Explore, Discover, and Create!