How do living things survive the winter? This question is at the center of a series of field studies fourth graders at the Children’s School #15 are engaged in with the support of Rochester Ecology Partners. The school sits at the base of Cobbs Hill Park and Washington Grove, an old growth urban forest, is the perfect place to build nature based learning into the students’ education.

The first foray into the woods was an opportunity for students to think about how the forest has changed since they were there last, what they notice and infer about how the living things are surviving the winter, and to flip over a few logs to learn a little bit more about the lives of insects in the winter. Throughout the week following our initial investigation students dove into adaptations in class.

Students explore Washington Grove

The second trip took us a bit deeper into the woods. A quick game to establish boundaries (with support from adult volunteers from the Unitarian Universalist Church) to create a perimeter) and get the fun flowing was followed by a scavenger hunt. For a furious few minutes filled with laughter students scrambled around searching for clues. Each clue reinforced key ideas about winter adaptations and asked them to take a minute to observe, think, or wonder about something related to the clue they found. The debrief that followed included connection to classroom learning and reflections on how much fun outdoor games are.

Next week we will go even further into the forest to investigate the trees and hopefully come up with an answer to one student’s question, “Why is a forest made of trees?”.

If you are interested in supporting this work or getting your class outside with us please reach out.