We use lots of tools when studying on the farm. Some tools are big like shovels, wheelbarrows and even tractors. But, other tools are small like magnifying glasses, tweezers and bug catchers.
The children had their own ideas for creating a "bug catcher."
The children enjoyed learning about all of the protective gear Farmer Amy wears when she checks on her bees.
How often do you get a chance to check out what honey comb looks like up close and in person under a magnifying glass? The children at Wildlife Explorers got to do just that before making sure to document their findings in their journals.
Bugs like to hide up high and down low, so the children carefully searched for all of their favorite hiding spots.
Walking with the goats was the most requested activity during camp. It happens to be one of Farmer Amy's favorite things to do on the farm as well. They are so peaceful and they enjoy all of the attention from the humans. Attention from humans more their size was an added treat!
This is what happens when children have a chance to get outside and and just be among nature. They connect with the animals and their surroundings in a whole new way.
These Wildlife Explorers enjoyed our walks on the farm while taking notes in their journals of interesting findings along the way.
The children loved walkin' and talkin' and noticing all kinds of unexpected behaviors from goats including the fact that they stand on their hind legs and eat from trees.
Spiders were among the highlights of the week and we took every opportunity to temporarily house them in bug catchers while referencing field guides to help us identify them.
Every time the children noticed an animal or insect that they didn't recognize, they gathered together to consult their field guides to make proper identification. Everyone learned that even though something may be poisonous or venomous, it still has a purpose too.
While bird watching the children kept notes of their observations in their journals.
Duck, Duck, Goose with water balloons cooled everyone off after a busy morning of learning outdoors.
Simple chalk illustrations drawn by the children helped reinforce what they learned at camp. Here you see a bee visiting a flower to collect nectar to make honey.
When the children were asked to draw all the parts of a plant, they got very creative. Here you see the soil at the bottom, a stem with leaves, the flower, and the butterflies, bees, and goats that all like to visit the flowers.
When the children were asked where soil comes from they first thought it was just dirt. After a lesson on decomposing plant matter and animal waste, they determined that it was much more than that. They planted seeds so that they can grow pollinator friendly plants at home.
Sprinkler games helped cool everyone off!
In an effort to help the children understand how to reuse something someone else might throw away or burn, Farmer Amy provided a birdhouse previously used on someone else's land for the children to paint and take home. Attracting birds to our gardens is a good thing. They are great pollinators too!
The focus and attention in addition to the creativity by these young children is a great reminder for adults that it is okay set aside time to be inspired. The children had spent three days practicing becoming more aware of their surroundings and gathering new information. By the last day, the projects that they completed reflected things they were inspired by all week.
Fine motor skills are hard at work here. Different ages of children took part in the camp, but differentiation was no problem with the addition of different types of tools based on ability.
Have you ever been inspired by a child? Farmer Amy was all week!
There were only a few base coat colors to choose from, so this camper thought of a solution. She asked to mix colors to get the color she was hoping for!
If only this photo was a video. In that case you would have heard as well as felt the giggles. They were .contagious.
The farm dogs are not pets, but they still love attention when they can get it. They very much enjoy when little people visit the farm.
The children learned that we are all connected by things that we have in common. Farmer Amy played the This or That game with the children by asking the children to choose between two items. Those who had that choice in common passed the yarn to each other. The web continued to build and so did the laughter.
Timothy the rabbit is as soft as velvet. It's a fact. He really is. You almost can't stop petting him.
Petri dishes collected findings that were shared with other campers.
Meet Bambi. She likes to talk. A lot. And, I am quite sure this camper got an earful on this daily walk.
New discoveries by humans and goats. At first glance it just looked like a lot of land with some grass. After practicing awareness, the children learned the importance of looking for the unexpected and unusual to cross their paths.
Bees visit flowers all day every day. Certainly this has happened right in front of the children many times before. However, the children gained a whole new respect for bees and their importance so when they noticed them during camp, it was a whole new level of awe!
We are on egg watch as we wait for the pullets to lay eggs any day now in the mobile chicken coop.
Although the children didn't visit the hives in the field, Farmer Amy explained the process and showed the children all of the equipment needed while explaining how the bees make honey.
This is real honey comb from a real hive on the farm. The bees drew the comb in a way that would make the hives difficult to check, so this comb was collected and is now used for teaching purposes.
The children noticed the hexagon shape of the honey comb cells and they enjoyed getting a closer look.
Trusty Rusty, one of the farm's original goats, enjoyed having company on the discovery walks around the farm.
What you see here is a dynamic brother sister duo that worked together all week to learn new things about the farm. Did you know that plants need sun, water and soil in order to grow for the bees to be able to make honey? Did you also know that writing all of those letters to explain that takes a lot of hard work and concentration? And, did you further know that big brothers are very handy for helping out when you get stuck on letters you aren't sure how to write? And, the best big brothers spend the entire time cheering you on with praise with every stroke of the chalk.
Dandelion seeds reminded the children of porcupine quills. This was an important connection because that night before two of the farm dogs had an encounter with a porcupine and the children got to see photos of what happened. The dogs received help and were on the mend soon after, but the children learned about their job and how hard they work to protect the livestock on the farm.
Lots of fine motor skills in action with this simple seed planting activity.
Every time the children saw a spider, it had to be collected, observed and identified. Everything else stopped whenever this happened. It was great!
The children each developed a hypothesis about what would happen if a blueberry leftover from someone's snack and a potato bug were added to the bug catcher with the spider.
Camp is an amazing experience. Not only do the children learn new things about a farm, they make new friends too.
So much concentration and care!
The children enjoyed bringing the birdhouses back to life!
If you give a child a paintbrush, they just may brighten your day.
Thankful for the Texas heat so that the base coats could dry fast on the birdhouses.
Anyone want to guess who was completely enamored by spiders this week?
"Farmer, I think I would like another color. Farmer Amy, I think I would like another color again." Farmer Amy is so glad she kept asking for more colors. What a beautiful painting!
The process is sometimes just an important as the product. After reading books and talking walks, this child determined she wanted her final project to be a butterfly. She first copied one from a book really small in her journal. She then learned how to draw it much bigger on a different page in her journal. Finally, she copied that in pencil onto the canvas before painting it. She was SO proud of her accomplishment after being very nervous to take this on at first.
What happens when you set out pieces of nature on a table all week with lots of discovery tools? This is what happens! This child learned that cattails are filled with fluffy seeds. It takes a bit of time to focus the microscopes, but she learned how to do it in order to see them up close.
These children will likely never look at "weeds" the same again.
Sometimes textures are strange and uncomfortable. Sometimes they are inviting. These cattails were a huge hit this week!