Thursday, June 26, 2014

Enjoy a Woodland Habitat Exploration Day - A Pictorial Report and Free Printable Lesson Plan

{Disclosure:  This post contains affiliate links to books that we used in planning, prep and follow up to our co-op meeting.  We thank you for blessing our family should you choose to click through any of these links to make any Amazon purchase.  Doing so adds nothing to your purchase price, but does provide our family with a tiny percentage of your sale.}

 Here we are but a week or so away from the beginning of July and I am just getting to posting about our second Habitat Explorers Co-op class, which was in May.  

For those of you who have been waiting for this post since I shared our first free printable Habit Explorers lesson plan and report, thank you for your patience.  You (and everyone else) need wait no longer for the second meeting's lesson plan on Woodland Habitats.  Here it is (with a photo report further along in this post.)

Resources for Our Woodland Habitat Lesson

Books we used during our meeting were:


Trees, Leaves & Bark (Take Along Guides) 


At home, some of the other books we read for preparation and follow-up were:




Around One Log: Chipmunks, Spiders, and Creepy Insiders 

Some of these books, as well as ones about other types of habitats, are featured with brief descriptions at Favorite Habitat and Nature Books.  Feel free to take a peek.

Highlights from Our Woodland Habitats Meeting
Please also enjoy a peek into how the planned lesson became reality for our mini nature co-op, with, of course, a few last-moment adaptations... 

Upon arrival, children that naturally gravitated towards an old foundation to wait for the lesson to begin...

Once all expected friends had arrived, we gathered in a Sharing Circle to say hello, review the last lesson and introduce the day's focus:  Woodland Habitats.

Due to car issues and sickness among some of our co-op families, our group was smaller than I thought it would be when I had planned the day's opening game.  So, I enlisted the help of parents and tag-along teens to help us learn a bit more about what is needed for a seed to become a tree.

Then it was off for a modified Tiny Treasures egg carton walk through the woods. 

We paused along the way to take in beautiful views and to inspect things along the trail...

We also stopped to fill our boxes with samples of tiny treasures found along the trail. 

Everything was going as planned until...

... we got over this little bridge.

Shortly after this little bridge, the trail turned into foot-sucking mud.  So, in deference to a few of our friends who had forgotten to wear can-get-wet-and-muddy trail shoes, we turned our hike around.  From that moment forward, I adapted the plans I had written out to fit our day.

Planned nature notebooking went by the wayside for the most part as we paused at a small clearing to share out egg carton finds and feed our hungry bellies.

However, exploration and identification did not.  In fact, not only did we share, discuss and try to identify some of our egg carton treasures, but we also tried to i.d. critters we found crawling about our picnic space.

We enjoyed reading A Log's Life together, of course, pausing for important things, such as...

... finding more critters!

Then, when all were done eating, we did a brief lesson on photosynthesis which included, some dramatic play of children growing into trees...

... and additional spoonfuls of maple syrup sugar to help the lesson go down!

From there, it was back to walking through woodlands.

 Small groups broke off to inspect finds along the way, each going at its own pace, until we made it to the side of a river, where we collected woodland leaf debris to make leaf litter bags in prepartion for a future meet up.

Some children scouted good locations to place our leaf litter bags.

Some worked cooperatively to dig out rocks to use as anchors for the bags.

And, some used their big muscles to carry the leaf litter bags and their anchors down to the river for placement.

By then, official time was up, so we all made our way back to the parking lot.  Along the way, I snapped this photo, which I love.  While one mom talks with another mom and an older child, my oldest walks and plays gleefully with the babe in her arms and one of her boys (in the red) walks with a book he had sometimes been reading throughout the day.  So many ages, stages and interests coming together in community,  I love it!

And, I love this!  

After some families had departed, several stayed behind.  While parents chatted and kids played, this little one spied a toad.  She was so excited by it and called out, "Miss Martianne!  Miss Martianne!"  The next thing I knew, all the children that were left gathered around her, taking turns inspecting her find.

They eventually made their way to a mound of dirt and grass, where they played in child-dug "burrows" and told stories to one another.  The boy in gray was sharing a story here with the rest of the gang...

...while his baby sister delighted in it!

Meanwhile, my daughter buddied up with one of the youngest lingerers.

And, finally, the kings and queens of dusty, dirty, fully-engaged learning and fun, were told it was time to wrap up the day.

Another absolutely ideal day of Habitat Explorers had come to a close.  We all waited eagerly for the next one, on Freshwater Habitats, which I will share about another day...

Until then, please find all the posts related to the Habitat Explorers Co-op I taught this spring by clicking on the button below.

I'd love to hear about your favorite outdoor lessons and experiences in a comment here or on the Training Happy Hearts Facebook page.  We're always looking for tried-and-true inspiration for future outdoor experiences!


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