As spring begins to get closer but feels even further away, we have been focusing on the animals that live, eat and sleep in the snow. We started our day by welcoming our new BRNC Education Specialist to the family, Ms. Rachel! Ms. Rachel is a Traverse City Native and comes with a degree in Wildlife Ecology from Michigan Technological University and several years of nature education experience. We are excited to have her here and encourage you to get to know her.
Our day continued with playing in the sensory bins while we waited for all of our friends to arrive. This week they were filled with cotton balls and other raw natural materials to build animal dens with and the cotton balls resembling this winter’s snow. Ms. Rachel also introduced a new type of sensory activity; this included a gallon Ziploc bag with different types of animal dens drawn on it with permanent marker. The bag was filled with clear hair gel and various laminated animals to move around in the gel to their respective dens. This is a very simple activity that we recommend you tape to the kitchen floor, a table or a wall. Fun for hours! Ms. Taryn created an AWESOME nature-themed obstacle course for us in the nature center that included crawling, jumping and hopping.
Our sensory play lead to learning about animal behinds after reading the book, “Whose butt?” by, Stan Tekiela. Our friends had some giggles after guessing all of the different animals only from pictures of their fluffy behinds. After our story we got dressed to go outside. The wind was chilly today so we filled the bird feeders and proceeded to the pine forest to escape the wind. In the forest we made our own animal dens in the snow. We also discovered some of our pines had a layer of ice on their bark. This led to a discussion about the difference between sap and ice. We found a tree with fresh sap oozing out and talked about how the sap felt compared to the ice on the bark. Sticky!
Once back inside we were excited to make our two bear crafts! The first included a bear attached to a popsicle stick that popped in and out of his den and the second included a bigger bear complete with faux fur, attached to a bigger popsicle stick that popped out of his bowl-den. This den was filled with materials to keep bear warm. To finish our day friends worked together to determine which animals had the ability to protect other animals with creative thinking and assessment of each animals qualities. What a day!