Sunday, September 8, 2013

Nature Nuts: Five Senses

We went to another preschool program at Ox Bow County Park. They have these once a month and are a great time for children ages 3-5. I bring my little one along usually. There are always books, usually a hike, a craft, and a snack. Krista does a great job of them!

She started out with a book, My Five Senses by Aliki. I just picked this up at a garage sale this summer--score! She discussed how we use our senses all the time to learn about the world around us. She brought flowers out for the children to touch and smell. Many sensory words were flying: smooth, rough, bumpy, colors, prickly, and more! She had sensory bags for the children to investigate. What is inside of all those bags?

Later they decorated toilet paper tube binoculars to use outside on a hike. These were all prepared ahead of time and the children put stickers on them for personalization. For this age, I liked this approach, as we've tried to make these in bigger groups of young children. Let's just say that the moms did most of it!

Outside they looked at The Listening Walk. It's good to listen around us. 

On the hike, they traversed tall grass, explored with their binoculars, and smelled black walnuts.

They touched cicada shells and fungus growing on branches (some was hard, others were soft). 

The felt the soft milkweed seeds. 

Mullein is soft and fuzzy as well. This is the first year's growth. The next season will have a tall torch looking part growing up through the middle.

We smelled bergamot. It is part of the mint family. These plants have a square stalk, which can help with identification. It was very fragrant. 

We also saw scat! We just observed that with our eyes. ;-)

This tree canopy walk is fun. It's nice and straight and I felt like we were enveloped in trees! A child asked about the wild grapes growing. Miss Krista allowed the children to taste them, but only on the condition that they only ate berries and such in the wild with permission from their attending adult. We have some growing in our woods and have tried them. They have big seeds for such tiny grapes!

On the way back up the hill, I spied this jewelweed. I think this is a great sensory item. It always makes me smile! It's part of the touch-me-not family. It has a seed pod that bursts open to release the seeds when touched. I even think the leftover curly cue seed pod is gorgeous! It often grows near poison ivy and is used as a remedy for the itchiness associated with poison ivy. I have seen it included in handmade soap and sold as poison ivy soap. Yes, I bought some! I try to avoid poison ivy, but react poorly when I make contact. 

Back at Ox Bow Haus, they tried several foods with different tastes, such as bitter, sour, sweet, and salty. We had another great nature time at Nature Nuts! We go once a month for a 1 1/2 hour program. It usually includes a snack, hike, craft, and program. We've been going since my son was 3 years old and plan to keep going until he goes to next year. We'll have to wait for the baby to turn three after that!  Information about Nature Nuts through Elkhart County Parks can be found online. I appreciate their expertise and know that I enjoy the experience and learn so much, along side by child.

After the program, we made a quick stop at the playground. Fun!