Today was our annual All School Fieldtrip out to the McColl Environmental Learning Center, in Savage, MN. When I say “all school”, I really mean it. Every student from kindergarten to sixth grade and every teacher, secretary, nurse and even the principal attend this event. We are out there for about four hours doing activities that relate to our environment. Each grade has their own theme and follows a certain schedule that has been made up for their specific topic. This year, I followed along with the third graders and our theme was “birds.”
We started our day at Station #1, which was ‘measuring the wing-span of a bird’. The high school student who was in charge of this station, gave the kids a few facts about birds and which birds have the largest span. Do you know which bird has the largest wing span? I actually did know the answer and blurted it out. I felt so smart…thank you Animal Planet. The answer: The Albatross! The other question for the kids was…What is the largest bird in the world? Any gusses? Answer: The Ostrich. Once we learned about these wing spans, the kids got to measure their wingspan by holding their arms out and with his tape measure they could find out which bird they are most like.
Next, we headed over to Station #2. At this station we learned about the birds’ beak. We learned that there are many different types of beaks and that sometimes the beak of a bird will determine it’s size. How did we discover this? They discovered this by doing a very fun activity. They kids were given different “tools” that resembled a beak of a bird. They were given a spoon, tweezers, clothespin and scissors and they had thirty seconds to fill their cups with seeds using the different tools. They discovered that birds with skinny, little beaks can’t fill their tummies very fast, while birds with bigger beaks, like a spoonbill, can scoop up a lot in a short time. They thought this was pretty neat and very frustrating with chopsticks. ha!
Our next station took us over to the Learning Center building. Before we went inside for our tour, we learned a little about the outside of this building…and more importantly, it’s roof. This building has what is known as a “green roof.” The Wikipedia definition is: A green roof is a roof of a building that is partially or completely covered with vegetation and a growing medium, planted over a waterproofing membrane. It may also include additional layers such as a root barrier and drainage and irrigation systems. My simpler definition: A roof where they plant flowers and grass on top so when it rains, the water doesn’t run off the roof but rather ‘waters the plants’ instead. A good use of rain. If it rains too much or a very hard rain, those slats in the front, allow the water to run off into a gutter, down the spout and into the rain gardens below. How cool is that! We could use a green roof on our house.
We had one more station before lunch. This was our “bird identification” station. The leader at this station (a retired Hidden Valley teacher) had kids stand up and hold pictures of birds. The names were on the back so they could know what bird they were. The teacher then described a bird, told them the name and the rest of us had to guess who was holding the right bird. It was a fun activity and Mrs. Sommerstead is very knowledgeable in this area. She was our Enrichment Teacher for many, many years and did a unit on birds of prey. She seems to really enjoy birds and I’m sure she owns a pair of binoculars.
It was time for a much needed break and a little lunch. They have a nice facility indoors with tables and chairs, which felt very nice to sit down for awhile. After lunch they could run around at the playground and get their wiggles out before heading back for two more stations.
Our next adventure was a bit different. It didn’t have to do with birds, but rather the environment. We called it, the Green Grass station. Our music teacher, Mrs. Owens, was in charge of this station and she brought her ukulele. Yep, we were going to do some outdoor singing! She had the kids sing the song, “And the green grass grows all around all around, and the green grass grows all around.” I know your singing it right now. ha! It was very cute and once again, a few kids were chosen to stand up and hold the picture cards as we sang and followed along. Then they played a silly game of ladybug tag, which they loved and it really got them running and warmed them up a bit.
Our last station took us on a little hike down near the pond. We walked along the path and enjoyed the sights and sounds of the great outdoors. I spotted these neat bird feeders along the way. So many birds around this area…neat to see.
We found our last station and it started to rain. We were supposed to enjoy a nice, relaxing seat on the path and learn about feathers on birds. The differences, colors, how many, etc…then they would get a chance to draw and color their own feather. We got started, but then had to gather our supplies and head indoors to finish up.
It was a very fun day. The only drawback was the weather. It was a little chilly, very overcast and then it rained on us our last half-hour. I can’t complain, I was just thankful it didn’t rain all day, as they had forecasted. Thank goodness those weather people aren’t very accurate. ha!