The class visited the pond on Shelburne Farms as part of their habitats study. Students used skimmers to collect small water creatures from the pond. Some wrote of their observations while others drew of their observations. It was a wonderful afternoon, and the observations will be compared with future visits as they continue to learn about various habitats on the Farm during different seasons.
In learning about harvesting and healthy foods, the Kindergarten/First Grade class took a trip to Shelburne Apple Orchard. It was a beautiful day for picking apples, reading Johnny Appleseed, and playing games in the orchard. At school the class made and baked individual mini-apple pies. They also taste tested three varieties of apples and made a graph based on their favorite apple. It was a learning field trip with a lot of yummy results.
The year-long science theme in the First Grade class is Animal Kingdom. The students had many opportunities and observations on Shelburne Farm for investigating and learning about insects. They also raised lady bugs from egg to lady bug and observed their cycle of changes. The class released the ladybugs outside on the Farm.
As part of learning about birds, the class took a field trip to the Green Mountain Audubon Center and participated in a program with their educators on All About Birds; one of the highlights was learning to identify – and try to make – some bird calls. Following a picnic lunch, the class went to the Birds of Vermont Museum to learn more about birds and saw more than 500 carved birds. They enjoyed drawing many of their observations. The students thoroughly enjoyed these additional field learning opportunities and partnering with these organizations.
The class, along with a Farm Educator, ventured down to the lakefront on Shelburne Farms as part of their geology studies. They explored the different types of rocks present and the characteristics of those rocks. They also searched and located fossils and learned about the history of the farm and how those fossils originated. The children enjoyed investigating the many caves that exist and discussed how the caves were formed. It was a wonderful trip for discovering geology here on Shelburne Farms.
At the end of the month, the class will be taking a trip to Rock of Ages, a Granite Quarry in Barre Vermont. They will take a guided quarry tour to an overlook of Smith Granite Quarry, the largest operating granite quarry in the world. Granite is among the oldest rock on earth and it's found deep beneath the ground's surface. Students will learn the process of quarrying huge slabs of granite and then see firsthand how it is transformed into beautiful works of art.
As part of learning about the Plant Kingdom the class has been working on leaf identification and moving toward tree identification. They have spent time on Shelburne Farms learning about the various trees including having a scavenger hunt through the forest. In addition, they have been incorporating their current mapping learning skills by making maps of the recess hill and Lone Tree Hill.
Next week the class will be hiking Mt. Philo as they compare and contrast with their learning on the Farm with the types of trees on Mt. Philo and leaf identification, discuss the difference of the vegetation based on the elevation at various points on the mountain, have a scavenger hunt, and draw a map based on the view from the top of Mt. Philo.
The current social studies theme focusses on the Westward Expansion and Lewis and Clark. The students have ventured on Shelburne Farms as explorers to record flora, fauna and weather conditions just as Lewis and Clark. They also had many discussions about what it was like back then to not have had some of our modern conveniences such as warm boots, gear and tools. One of their favorite plants that they identified was Jack in the Pulpit and learning about the different transformations of the plant based on the changes of the seasons.
The class went kayaking on the LaPlatte River to continue their learning and to experience traveling on water while looking to identify plants and wildlife similar to Lewis and Clark. After quickly gaining confidence in kayaking, the students had a fantastic time with beautiful weather for traveling on the river. They saw turtles, blue herons, and even a bald eagle along with many water plants.
In learning about early humans, one area of discussion has been about the first fire, being able to create and control it and how this was an important turning point. The class along with a Shelburne Farms educator learned firsthand of how much work this process is – from identifying the types of tree wood to use, collecting the wood, sorting the wood, and starting a fire. It was a wonderful opportunity to be able to apply their learning outside in a wooden area on the Farm.
The class will soon be hiking Snake Mountain to continue the discussion about early man. Once they reach the top, they will discuss and use the higher elevation to observe the lay of the land below, discuss scouting methods that may have been used to determine a good place to live in relation to food and water sources and reasons why. This mountain is also called Grand View Mountain after the hotel of the same name that was built in 1870 at the top.