We have ventured up to Northeast Portland once a week for the past 9 weeks. We began with a random group of students for the first couple of weeks. There were so many kids at first; we didn’t know how to get started. We wanted to offer the students material that built on lessons learned each week. We were about ready to give up on that idea, when we were told that we finally had a set of students assigned to our group, Animals in Nature. I was so excited!
The weeks passed us by so quickly. I remember dedicating at least four days to plan for a program in the beginning. With time and experience, we easily cut those days down to a maximum of two days of planning. Our greatest difficulty now was making a program that was easy for the kindergarteners to understand but also challenging enough so that our second graders didn’t get bored. An age gap of two years doesn’t seem too significant, but it is when you are at that! Their reading skills and attention spans differ very much, but we managed to work it out.
In the nine weeks we taught the children how to be in nature. We taught them how to use their coyote feet, deer ears, and owl eyes. We supplied them with homemade nature journals so they could start recording the neat things they see when they are outside. We did sit spots one week, the migration game on another, and fill the bill towards the end. We rented discovery packs from the refuge and were able to let the kids borrow simple field guides as well as binoculars! On the very last day we wrapped up by letting the kids know how accomplished they should feel. They learned so much about birds and now were able to properly identify five of the birds they would most commonly see. We let them build homemade bird feeder to attract birds (or squirrels) to their backyards so that they could easily watch them. It was a physical gift we wanted them to take with them to remind them of all the things they learned about with us.
Maybe they will forget about what we taught them or maybe just maybe we sparked at least one of our students to become bird enthusiasts like us!