Our Nature School has an age range of toddlers up to age 12. We love our wide range of ages and how everyone works together. It is a beautiful thing to see! All of our leaders love having multi ages attend classes and create the best experience for everyone attending. I could not be more grateful to all of the wonderfully talented leaders we have at Mid Pinellas Learn and Play. We added two new leaders to our roster, Jenipher Lyn is our Ukulele instructor and Betty is our Yoga instructor. Adding into our schedule of weekly classes a day for mini lessons and practice sessions to accompany our Nature School days.
Our Fall Session #1 topics was Bugs, Birds, and Bats. To start, we focused on the connections of flower colors to common pollinators. We had a lot of fun collecting things to make a bug house. We talked about where insects live, added examples to our journals, reviewed insects with clues, and tallied up dragonflies as they dashed over the water. We made-up movements of insects and acted out our favorite insects movements together. For our next focus, we spotted a woodpecker, blue jay, dove, and cardinal. We turned into birds gathering up materials to build our nest. Like a bird we made our nests and then did some silly movements on the trails. We graphed our favorite "spark bird" (the bird that made us birders) as well as making a simple bird craft to take along our nature walk. We also learned about how woodpeckers make their nests in cavities in the trees. Our next study was bats. We practiced hanging from branches and balancing on logs with our friends. We turned into hungry bats filling our bellies with 100 mosquitoes. Besides learning about what they love to eat we learned how important they are at protecting, spreading seeds, and pollinating many crops. We added to our journals a drawing of different sized bat boxes by rolling a die. The number rolled was how many chambers your bat box would have. We learned about what bats eat: insects, fruit, nectar and where bats live: caves, trees, and bat houses. In our journals we drew our own Bat House. On Tuesdays our leader teaches us ASL, American Sign Language. We learned bird body parts, our primary colors, the four seasons, our numbers, our pets, and our emotions. We used mirrors to play with the colors of a rainbow connecting it to the light of the Sun. We learned where light came from and how light reflects colors! On Wednesdays & Fridays we focused on journaling and using nature's manipulatives when we counted by doubles with stones and tree cookies and our mirrors. On Thursdays we got inspirations from our explorations of shapes, colors, and textures along with a Nature Walk to create works of art!
For our Halloween Class we did a No-so-Scary Seek & Find and learned some ASL Halloween Signs. To our surprise a happy Jack-o-lantern was on the trail as well as other silly faces watching us learn and play.
Fall Session #2 focused on Gratefulness and Giving Back. Our parents helped their child(ren) by giving examples of things they are grateful for and wrote them down in our nature journal. Next each child picked, gathered, and counted something they could find more than one of. We made a grid of each and then worked on adding up the different things like 3 pine needles plus 10 mangrove pods, or 1 giant leaf plus 5 branches of beauty berries. In another class we focused on colors and we said Say hello to red! Red ladybugs, red berries from Wild Coffee and Simpson Stoppers, and fallen leaves that make the best red lips! We colored our Compass as a glyph, each color representing some part of you: eye color, favorite ice cream, oldest/youngest child, and favorite sport. Then using actual compasses we found the true north and placed our sundials in the grass and went on our trail chasing butterflies and examining cactus thorns. When we returned the sun dial's shadow changed its original position! Our next math focus was learning the proper names of triangles, we used wood sticks to make the triangles as we said their names and then went on a nature walk to find pine needles to weave inside the triangle. In another class we decorated our triangles to hang on our Christmas trees at home. The following week we focused on patterns and made matches with leaves and created our own jewelry.
Our Friendsgiving Event was a picture perfect day of blue skies and sunshine. We found flowers and created prints with our mallets. Then we enjoyed our community salad around a table full of laughs and first foods, even for the older picky eaters. We ended with lots of dancing and yoga poses to make us feel grateful for the air we breathe and the friendships we are forming.
The month of December we visited three local Not-For-Profits. They were The Seaside Seabird Sanctuary, Heritage Village, and The Largo Botanical Gardens. We even snuck in a little beach schooling. We found Jingle Shells in the wrack line and made snow angels in the soft sand. Happy Holidays from Mid Pinellas Learn and Play. We'll be back in Session starting January 24th.
We had a full Fall experience in Pinellas County seeing the many species that inhabit our parks and learned so much about them through observation, discussion, and play. We are excited to bring another session in the start of 2022. We are planned to offer 5 Sessions next year.
Our Winter Session's Schedule of Classes will return to 5 daily classes including our Mini Lesson Mondays: Ukulele, Yoga, and reintroducing Science on the 2nd Monday of the Month. Our Tuesday to Friday Nature School will feature Literacy in Nature (Mid County), Journal & Nature Math (South County & North County), and Art in Nature (Mid County) Classes.