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Havin' A Hoot

The trees shake, something whistles past. I freeze and wonder, should I turn back or check this out? Stories enthrall and bind us together in common experiences. Tell your family about what happened to Beaver on her ski through the quiet forest. Remember her expression, excitement and gestures. See if you can get your family as excited as we were upon hearing it.

Beaver is one of those teachers who doesn’t sleep well before nature school because she can’t wait to see the kids beautiful faces and play outside for the whole day. She is a dazzling educator and we were so lucky she came out today and is joining our team next year! Daisy is coming back too, so these two close friends can stay together:)

This morning we discovered a wanted poster for the Eastern Screech Owl inside the barn. From the description given, we knew we were looking for a small owl - only about 20 cm tall. We found out where they like to live and what their call sounds like. On the poster there was even a reward being offered! We donned our winter gear and headed off on the south trail, ready to use our owl ears, and owl eyes to find these 'criminals'! What was the REWARD?

Whenever we spotted a Screech Owl sitting in a tree, we all tried to imitate its call. By doing this, we probably scared off many of the Screech Owl's prey such as vole, shrews, and mice. In total, we collected 11 owls along with a couple of real Screech Owl feathers. Ask for a good long Screech Owl hoot for some additional practice.

When we arrived at the Backwoods, we met and talked about which owls were the hardest to find based on how well they were camouflaged with the tree bark. We learned that the grey Screech Owls roost in what trees (Oak) and the reddish-brown Screech Owls choose to live in what trees (Pine).  Get down to the facts about our new friend the Screech Owl, see if your child can tell you more about their colouring, special features (like ear tufts - hey that’s like Great Horned Owl), foods they love, and what they do when threatened. It's great information to take along on your next woodland walk. 

Next time you come I hope you see what Coyote saw out in the Backwoods yesterday. A herd of over 20 white-tailed deer. They seem to visiting a lot lately. I wonder what they are eating?

Wander time was pretty inspiring, as well. The stream bank ice was so cool, and harvesting began immediately. Ice chunks turned into huge pizza slices (Blue and Falcon), or an xylophone (Cardinal, Bunny and Turtle). Happy imaginations found a burr in one slice and morphed into surgeons to extract it (Acorn and Frog). Kids loved using handcrafted snow bowls to collect food for owls.  We had just enough time for a winter sensory scavenger hunt and we were able to find items such as 'memories from the summer' and a snail shell as 'an animal's' home. 

All the kids were racing through lunch to get on the snow hill. This turned into a long distance sliding contest between some of the Saplings and Heron. Who won?

Then it was off to the barn for a picture book called "Owl Moon" by Jane Yolen This story is about a young girl and her papa who go out  to the woods at night, hoping to hear the call of a Great Horned Owl. The language in this book is lovely and the children were very intrigued with the idea of being able to convince an owl into thinking that they were owls too. A night of owling might be something you can add to your family to-do list! See if you can get a retell of this story at home.

We ended our full day in the cabin, getting down information in our nature journals. We even added drawings which included owl pellets chockfull of a variety of bones of their prey. What was inside the pellet?

Hanging out with friends, making owl food, visiting the ponies, and playing games might be some of the things your child wants to share with you.

What did the Ant Trail game teach us? Will we be a better ant colony next week? Hint: the P word

Oh my, it must be the track of some endangered species that Coyote doesn't even know about! This sent her off looking through field guides for the mystery animal. Who played this trick today?

Now seriously kids, this photo was taken after you left the farm. Who's been here?

It’s so nice to take time to chat together. Beaver commented that this group feels like a big family. Coyote shared about her presentation at University of Western Ontario yesterday where over 100 teacher education students came to learn about nature education. What did she share with them? Are we famous? Yes, we inspired them to make sure NATURE is part of the culture of their classroom or better yet, make the outdoors into their classroom. We are the ripple moving out from the pebble folks! Thanks for giving others a model of how we can learn and connect without any desks or smartboards. Keep that nature spirit alive until next week Forest Friends:) 


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