Monday, June 20, 2016

Please Welcome Sarah Antel

About Sarah:
   I have taught a variety of ages, mostly early elementary, for 15 years. My diverse teaching career has taken me to the woods teaching environmental education, to classrooms teaching my own students, to having direct influence on the shape programming takes as a former director of education at an educational farm. It was on the farm that I started a homeschooling program. I love homeschooling and homeschoolers so much, that I work for a homeschooling company now. My lessons often integrate several subjects. The activities include hands-on, active, project-based experiences.

   Learning need not stop during school vacation. Summertime offers a convenient time to explore outdoors. Bare feet step in the mud at a pond’s edge, insects buzz in fields, and the cool forest offers relief from the sun’s heat.

  Read on to learn about child-tested activities that work on vacation days and during the school year to enhance your classroom curriculum.

Pond Dabbling
   A brief glance at a pond may reveal frogs, newts, and various plants. If you spend a little more time and make a special tool, you can discover the smaller and possibly the more populous residents, baby insects, or larvae. You can create a net to catch these often 1-2 inch creatures for closer examination. You will need a metal coat hanger, a stick about half your child’s height, strong tape like duct tape, and a pair of nylons that you don’t mind cutting. Pull the coat hanger to make a diamond shape and stretch a leg of the nylons over the diamond. Tape the stick to the straightened hook of the hanger. You now have a ponding net. Many of the creatures hide in the leaves and mud at the bottom of the pond; scrape this up with your net and carefully look for movement. Be sure to return the creatures to the water when you are done observing them.

Insect Investigation
   Any place with longer grass will often house insects and other organisms. Making a homemade sweep net is a useful way to carefully collect and observe these diverse creatures. To make a sweep net, you need a light colored pillow case and a large embroidery hoop.  Pinch the opening of the pillowcase in the hoop, tighten and you should have a sack with a stiff opening. Go find a spot with longer grass, hold your sweep net with both hands, and swing the opening back and forth while brushing the grass. Take a peek inside to see if there are any creatures. When your observations are complete, carefully turn the net inside out to free the organisms.

Woods Walk
   The cool, shady forest is a wonderful retreat in the afternoon’s heat. Sounds can be amplified by pretending to be a deer or a rabbit. Cup your hands behind your ears and slowly turn your head and note the variety of sounds. Carefully rolling over rotting logs often reveals a hidden world. You can often observe spiders, worms, millipedes, insects, fungi, and salamanders. It is important to note that salamanders are sensitive as they breathe through their skin. Be sure to rub dirt on your hands before handling. Children can also make a terrarium as a way to care for a piece of the forest’s world. Using a canning jar as the container, students can examine the different layers of the forest floor, taking careful note of what they see. They can carefully scoop some layers up and put it in the bottom of the jar. Seedlings and moss can be planted in the terrarium. Some water can be dripped into the jar and it can be sealed with a piece of plastic wrap that has a few holes poked in it. It may be best to return the contents back to the woods after a week to allow insects and other organisms to survive. Fairy houses allow children to experience the magic of the woods. Using natural found objects, children can construct a miniature dwelling for the fairies and other wee folk of the woods. The designs are as limitless as their imagination.
   Allowing you and your child the time to explore nature with all of your senses is a priceless gift that everyone deserves.

                                                        Kind Regards,

Sarah's products can be viewed here:
Homeschooling and Homesteading
Exploring Wetlands
Rot and Roll: The Hidden Habitat of a Decaying Log

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