Green Gate Farms

Our trip to Green Gate Farms is our favorite field trip this year.  We were able to see a variety of plants, but the animals were the best!

Fall

After such a long hot summer, it is wonderful to feel the cooler fall weather.  We have been spending even more time outside, playing, exploring and observing the natural world around us.  We’ve been taking projects and books outside.  The cooler weather has provided opportunities to take longer walks and hikes.  We have been on excursions to Shipe Park and the Elizabet Ney Museum.

The cooler weather is a relief to the plants as well.  Our garden is showing signs of growth.  We have sprouts of chard, carrots and broccoli.

Though this was not planned, one of our students noticed that our discussions on the fall season coincided with our study of the letter ‘F’ as part of our Letter of the Week literacy program.

One of our favorite fall activities involves collecting leaves and other objects that have fallen from the trees and other plants.  We talk about our discoveries and then incorporate them into art projects.  Here are some fairy looms we constructed to display our found items (along with some other art materials we ‘found’ in the school!).

We also made several rubbings.  We have some templates of birds, insects and flowers to use for rubbings, but we also incorporated the leaves and pieces of barks into our art projects.  Before long we were scavenging the entire school, inside and out, looking for textures with which to make rubbings.  This sort of activity changes how you look at your environment, heightening your awareness of the textures around you.  We took rubbings of the trees, the wood on our porch, the tables outside, the bricks, the chairs and other surfaces.

These window pictures were made with contact paper and tissue paper.  This project provided an opportunity to discuss the color changes in some leaves and why this happens in the fall.

We are planning a trip to a nearby state park for some extended hiking expeditions.  The fall is such a wonderful time for experiencing the outdoors and connecting with nature.

Birds

Birds are interesting.  Large and small, subdued and extraordinary, there is such a range of this amazing group of animals.  Most of us know someone who is obsessed with birds, bringing binoculars everywhere, just in case there is a bird in the vicinity.

Since we spend so much time outside at Progress School, we are very observant of the wildlife sharing our space.  We have regular visits from cardinals, blue jays, mockingbirds and hawks.  Every now and then we spot a heron in the creek or vultures circling in the sky.

Our copy of the Audubon book of North American birds was a great resource, along with several versions of Texas bird guides.

Within the pages of our many resource books, we found inspiration for our Bird Sanctuary diorama.

Our birds were clearly not made to scale, which prompted many amusing conversations.  Can you imagine what it would be like to be driving along and come across a roadrunner that is bigger than your car?

We studied features of birds and their anatomy and explored the questions we had about birds: Which birds do not fly?  Why do some birds fly and others don’t?  Which birds live in the water?  What do different birds eat?  How do birds stay warm in the winter?

We made bird feeders out of milk cartons and looked at designs for bird houses to construct in the wood shop for ongoing projects.  Each art project was accompanied by detailed discussions about different birds.

We learned some interesting facts about birds:

  • Fastest land bird – the ostrich – up to 45 mph!
  • Largest egg – ostrich egg
  • Largest nest – bald eagle’s nest – 9 feet wide and 20 feet deep!
  • Longest wingspan – albatross – 11 feet, which we measured out, and that is quite a large bird!

Some of our favorite birds include the cardinal, the blue jay, the bald eagle, and the blue-footed booby!