Getting The Scoop on Dirt

This gorgeous day saw the Branches enjoying time with the Leaves and Roots in a wet, muddy Backyard before gathering for our all-school morning music circle.  After singing to "the Earth, the Sun and the Beasts on the run," the children trotted off to their backpacks to start the day.

 

Our helper of the day was selected by reading the name sticks. At the head of the hike line, she helped pull the wagon over mud and roots to the Pine Grove where she helped to hand out colored pencils for a sit spot mindfulness exercise.

Each of the children set out with a clipboard and pencils in hand to find a quiet spot where a silent two minutes would allow for making a map of nature sounds, creating a drawing of something on their minds or of something that they were visually focused on. When we gathered back together at Base Camp, the children were eager to share their sit spot experiences.  The song, "Up the Ladder Down the Ladder" was chosen by our helper as the daily greeting so we sang together to welcome everyone in the circle by name.


To continue our discussion of dirt, we made a list of some things we already know, then used Dirt: The Scoop on Soil to add some new information. A stand out fact included how worms and bugs help make the soil better for plants to grow.


 After our discussion, big muscles were used to roll logs, and eyes scanned the bark and dirt in search of decomposers.  Worms, ants, centipedes and other minibeasts were spotted eating dirt and bark to enrich the underlying soil. The children were so focused on the dirt that their faces could not be seen but their excitement was quite audible when they detected any movement in the dirt! Dirt was then turned into an amusement park as a dirt mound was doused with water transported in ice cube trays to create a mud slide.  


When we returned to our indoor classroom, the children were introduced to more decomposers.  Two huge grubs, known as Hercules beetle larvae, were presented to the children for observation and questioning. These larvae, with their transparent skin, offered an excellent visual reference for how wood and bark are broken down by these important organisms and returned to the Earth to enrich the soil.  The question was asked, “What’s that brown stuff on the inside?”  It was explained that it was what they had eaten being digested.  When the grubs eat the wood, they break it down and return it to the Earth as rich soil.  


After some time spent building, painting, "dramatic playing," and yoga-ing in the indoor classroom, our day ended with an all-school picnic on the field among dandelions and sunshine.


#natureschool

#letthemplay

#thisislearning 

a school for children who are serious about dirt and squirmy things

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© 2018 by Painted Oak Nature School

174 Lambertville Hopewell Road 

Hopewell, New Jersey  08525

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