I think I can speak for everyone here at Hanna Fenichel who returned to our daily routine after the holidays: it was filled with cheerful greetings of “Happy New Year” and pleasant reunions. We shared stories about our travels and adventures, family gatherings and the delicious calories consumed. I will be honest- I did not return to school filled with a great deal of energy or any creative ideas What activities that did take place in the Garden Classroom had a common theme: easy and fun!
I set up some attention-getting/no-fail activities starting on Monday with what my young scientists called, “purple,” “explosion,” “volcanoing,” and “volcano eruptions” science. In laymen terms, colored vinegar and baking soda. This has to be the BEST scientific experience for young children. They never tire of the seemingly magical, colorful bubbles and exciting eruptions. Unfortunately, I ran out of baking soda, but that wasn’t the end of the excitement or learning possibilities.
I filled up our “lab table” with a ton of corks and water and outfitted the center with some tools that the scientists called, “pinchers,” and “catchers” and some nets. Again, simple ingredients combined with the joyful curious minds of young learners created an opportunity for learning AND they had a blast!
This science was called “up science” by Cameron. Which makes perfect sense. He and his fellow scientists experimented with the corks and water displacement. While using the scientific method and learning about water displacement and buoyancy, they got so excited when the corks popped up! I think I will be adding some metal items to the corks on Monday and see how our scientists react to these new properties of density and weight.
Along with the excitement happening in the Science Lab, several of our nature lovers helped me fill up the birdfeeders and made sure the birdbath was filled with water. (This is a very simple birdbath using a lid from a pot and placed upside down on some bricks.) I assured everyone that we get feathery visitors every day.
I have seen lesser goldfinches, house finches, dark-eyed juncos, a dove, hummingbirds, sparrows, and the most common of all- crows, after the children leave and the Garden Classroom gets very quiet.
Wyatt enjoyed looking at my favorite book for young birders, Smithsonian: The Bird-watcher and saw where former student and artist Livvi Belle got her inspiration for the birdfeeder we are still using. It uses a plastic water bottle. Wyatt drew a design for the decoration he will add to the birdfeeder he is looking forward to making. He also shared with me how he has a birdbath at his home and how his mother fills it with a hose.
After we hung up the birdfeeders, one last chore remained. Luella needed to hang up the sign she created last school year (with the help of some friends) that invited the “birdies” to come and eat.
As the week concluded and the creative juices started kicking in, I began to see where we can begin to build on these little moments of joy as we start to think more seriously about our annual Art Show and what kind of lasting memories these children will leave behind as they move on to elementary school. I see the possibilities of a book featuring our favorite science experiments to share with future students. I would LOVE to make a more permanent and beautiful birdbath for our lovely, feathered visitors.
I am NOW filled with energy and my creative juices are running, thanks to my wonderful, exuberant students! Happy New Year!