by Hazel Stark
On an idyllic, misty, and warm early October morning along the shore of Beals Island, Beals Elementary School’s Pre-K and Kindergarten students went outside to learn about who lives in their local ecosystem. Using hardware store sample paint chips to discover the diversity of color of the living things there, they found natural objects in a range of purples, greens, yellows, grays, and more. They hiked through the forest and smelled the sweet scent of balsam fir and felt that tree’s soft and friendly needles. They compared the feel of fir branches to the sharper feel of spruce branches. Using a scavenger hunt sheet with pictures and words describing the different flora and fauna they might discover in the area, they looked for and colored the things they found--from eyebright and aster flowers to spiderwebs, mushrooms, and animal tracks.
When asked to share what they learned at the end of the program, students shared about how important it was “to be gentle to mushrooms and tiny trees.”