Last spring I blogged about a trip to the Wausau School District School Forest with my son’s second grade class.
When a note came home with my now third grader asking parents to consider joining the class on another trip to the school forest, I didn’t hesitate to volunteer.
Among the days activities, the third graders enjoyed a hike along the Wisconsin River (including an eagle sighting) and into the woods. The class spent some time before the hike in the facility’s museum learning about turkeys and discussing concepts like habitat and adaptations with Mr. Maney and Mr. Nelson.
The hike was highlighted by Mr. Nelson secretly shaping and dropping a Tootsie Roll along the path. He gathered the students around the brown candy and identified it as turkey scat. He mentioned that a friend at the DNR had told him he could tell a lot about what the turkey that dropped the scat had eaten by touching, smelling and BITING!
Of course the kids were disgusted as he chewed, until he quickly pulled out the Tootsie Roll wrapper (though my son was doubtful even after this step, asking ‘Why was the inside white?’) and explained his prank.
Lunch at the Wausau District’s school forest is always a highlight for the kids. Served buffet style (sort of a mini-Chet & Emil’s in the woods – folks in central Wisconsin will understand that reference), the kids and adults were treated to fried chicken, mashed potatoes, peas, peaches and two cookies each.
There were a couple of other cool exercises for the kids before the day was done. There was, of course, a quick art project in which they turned hunks of wood into pencil holders. A pair of outdoor exercises were highlights, though.
One exercise was a game in which the kids had to collect collared and scored popsicle sticks from a large area, returning them to their ‘bear den’. The game mimicked a year in the life of a bear and offered the kids a chance to move, learn, compete and have fun. There are photos depicting the game from a visit by another third grade class here.
The other exercise involved the kids searching for 250 colored toothpicks in a small side yard. Never in a million years could I convince my kids to spend time looking for toothpicks in our yard, but the instructors at the school forest had no trouble motivating the kids in this pursuit.
In a few month’s my daughter will bring home another slip from school, looking for helpers on her second grade class’s field trip to the school forest.
And, again, I’ll be the first in line to volunteer.