It is a long held custom for our students to go to Howell Nature Center. In recent years, we've been heading off in the Fall, soon after school starts. This was changed from a Spring visit for a couple of reasons - increased likelihood of excellent weather (I still remember doing archery in a blizzard!), and also to use this trip as a bonding/team building time. Children who share in this adventure come back to the classroom having worked together on a cooperative project, having encouraged each other to rise to each challenge, and just laughing and being goofy together.
Here are some pictures from this year's trip.
The first activity we did was Shelter Building. Students learned what to do if they were lost in the woods. Never go on a hike alone, and if you get separated from your adult, stay put! We then learned about different types of structures to build - the A frame, the teepee, and the lean-to. After examining the location and materials, they discussed what type to build, and agreed that the A frame was the best bet. Working together - some of those logs were heavy and took at least two people to lift - the team was successful in making a sturdy shelter that all nine children could fit into.
Next, we went on to the Zip Line. This is one event that we do every single year, as it is always a highlight. Also, it takes some children more than one visit to work up the courage to try. Zip line is a "challenge by choice" event, and we learned to encourage each other, but never make someone feel bad if they decide not to do it. However, this year, all students in our classroom DID want to zoom through the air - some even doing it hands-free, or doing some sweet disco moves.
Here we are, pumped up and ready!
After lunch, we went to the lake to fish. Each child got their own simple-to-use fishing pole, and a sausage to use as bait. There were sunfish and bass, and we caught both (and then released them back into the lake). Some children caught many fish - I believe 6 was the record - and some just had a lot of nibbles from tricky fish. Dillon caught a HUGE bass - I'm glad his mom was there or we might have had a dunked little boy!
Our last event was an animal education show called Myth Crackers. We learned what was true and what was a myth about several native animals. We got to meet a box turtle (Can turtles take off their shells? Can every turtle hide in their shell?), an opossum (Do opossums really play dead? Can they hang from their tales?), an owl (Do all owls hoot? Do screech owls screech? Can owls turn their heads all the way around?), and a porcupine (Can porcupines shoot their quills as a defense?)
It was a lovely and exhausting day - and gave the children experiences they will remember and talk about all year 'round.