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The Power of Water

Updated: Nov 4, 2023

What links our full day of learning at nature school today? Water! It’s the source of food and survival for our feature bird, Kingfisher, and the original source of power to grind grains at the Grist Mill in Harrington. We renewed our appreciation of what this small pond and creek offer to all living things and the human ingenuity to harness this body of water to make milling grain much easier.

We have royalty in our midst when we live along waterways in Ontario and we might not even know it. You might just hear a tinny rattle followed by a blue streak and sudden plunge. This is our resourceful Kingfisher. They are fascinating creatures with a weird hairdo, patiently poised on a perch, watching for shadows in clear water. Dive, spear, flip and gulp. Ask your child for a reenactment of this hunting strategy. Through roleplay we learned about the Kingfisher's territory, nesting spots, eggs laid and feeding habits. The Belted Kingfisher is its full name. Do you remember what your clue was from the scavenger hunt? Congrats to Hawk for being able to put all the clues together and figure the special bird was the Kingfisher. Go further with some guiding questions..

*How big is this little bird's territory and how did your pair mark it?

*What does Kingfisher build to house their young? Describe this nursery.

*How did you get eggs for your nursery?

*What is the difference between the male and female?

Today, we used 'egg'corns to be our bird eggs (thanks to Hummingbird for this wisecrack). How many eggs did you have in your nest? How many baby birds survived? At a more advanced level the question may be more like How many eggs does a Kingfisher typically lay? How long is their territory?

Great Blue Heron is an interesting bird who we may see more often along the Thames River. Ask your child what Herons eat? Our Herons were fast and caught enough food to survive. Geese are busy moving this time of year. We often hear or see them around Harrington Conservation Area. What are three things we had to work on as a team to get into 'V' formation?

Tree climbing, exploring and building are all activities which happen during wander time. What does your child like doing in Mystery Forest? Today, we also learned how to use an acorn 'hat' for a whistle.

Library is always fun. Today we followed our waterbirds theme and looked closely at the Great Blue Heron. You can use the booklet that Grey Squirrel prepared for more fun at home. Ask about our role-play of the two water birds. How long did we challenge ourselves to stand on one leg patiently waiting for fish and what keen moves did we show Kingfisher use when catching fish?

We got a chance to see the Mill through new eyes today as Mr. Miller (Tim) took us back through the heavy muscle work of pounding corn using stones, then hand crank grinders, and onward to water powered machines. Larch noted that really the force for powering the Mill is all gravity-driven. When kids get a chance to practice a tough task, they appreciate what it must've taken for people to make a simple loaf of corn bread. There were lots of excited shouts turning the handle of the corn husker, and then working the machines to get the mill belts moving again. Ask your child about how the Grist Mill worked when it was running. How did they move the grain through the building and use blades to turn this into flour? What happened to the Mill one hundred years ago?

Making flour sack journal bags is something we did last year, so we added a little more handiwork. Your child may have chosen to sew on a button or beads along with stenciling patterns and their name. This beautiful bag will house our journal and sketchbook, so please bring it to our Friday classes. We are so grateful to Tim and Betty Van de Kemp (Mr. and Mrs. Miller) for taking time to plan and share their expertise with the kids. We are so lucky!

We are grateful to Osprey for her talent with needle and thread, Tamarack for dedicating full attention one child at a time, Cricket for adding a BIG leaf pile to spread the joy, and Raccoon for keeping his eye to lens making sure you see inside our day. Dragonfly and Coyote have a great team so we can take HUGE leaps in learning with this fantastic group of kids.


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