Last week, I led second graders on a nature hike at our state park. Life cycles is part of the second grade curriculum so I try to make sure that we go over the life cycles of dragonflies, frogs, birds, bats, flowers and trees. One of their vocabulary words is metamorphosis and I have the use that at each stop along the way and they love it. We also see the bat box and owl box which has no evidence of bats or owls so we talk about bat guano and owl pellets. It is so funny how second graders love to talk about poop! Along the way I try to point out some plants that they will see in most forests around us like poison ivy, alder, rhododendron, mountain laurel, and purple gentian. We also saw the men working to repair the dam so I was able to talk about safety habits in the workplace and point out how the men were hooked into a safety cable. One other thing I always stress to the children is how we all need to take care of our parks for future generations and they seem to really get it.
Another fun thing for me is to listen to the comments of the children as they walk. Some of the children had been to the park before but mostly for picnics and not hikes. After our hike, many children talked about getting their families to come back so they could take them on the hike we did. One little girl talked about how this was the best field trip she had ever been on!
The weather started out with sprinkles of rain but we never had to put on rain coats. The temperature was cool but perfect for hiking and the scenery was awesome.
I’m so glad the teachers wanted to bring their classes to the park! I hope you think about sharing nature with your students.
Original photo by Pat Hensley