By Hazel Stark
The bold yellow flowers of our native goldenrods brightened up fields and roadsides as Blueberry Harvest School students learned about life cycles, seasons and weather, and relationships between living things during the second week of August 2017.
The youngest students sang along with Ellie and her ukulele, using sticks to add percussion, about the life cycles of plants and birds (in Spanish and English) to frame their week. Further considering what plants need to live, students went on to search for forest life at different stages, finding red bunchberries and pinecones and counting what they found in Spanish. They even acted out the behavior of baby birds to illustrate how they are different from adult birds and read Blueberries for Sal/Arándanos para Sal by Robert McCloskey to see how humans and bears care for young while simultaneously building literacy skills in Spanish and English.
Students in grades 2-5 began the week considering the scale of our solar system by becoming planets themselves and standing in appropriate relation to the “sun.” Zooming in on Earth, they learned about the four directions and how the sun influences our seasons. They wondered how animals deal with the change of seasons by staying in place or moving on. They built small shelters to model how winter animals might survive here, and mimicked the migration of monarch butterflies who fly south when the days get shorter. With a reflective close to the week, students observed clouds, identified different types, modeled cloud formation, and considered how the solar system, seasons, and weather are all related.
The oldest group of students wrote poetry, played games, and found examples of predation, competition, and mutualism in the forest around Blueberry Harvest School. One of the games they played illustrated how chickadees and nuthatches eat the same food, but look for the food in different places so they don’t compete too much. One student related this game to his experience competing for the best blueberry boxes in the morning on a raking day. The boxes are a limited resource, just like the food for chickadees and nuthatches, so he wondered how he could mimic these birds to reduce competition in the future.
From music to acting, math to poetry, and engineering to modeling, students ages 3-14 engaged hands-on outdoors during Outdoor Explorations for yet another week of Blueberry Harvest School 2017. Interested in what they did during week 1? Read this article and stay tuned for more about the rest of this summer program.
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