Sunday, 17 May 2015

A bunny and its nest in our playground!

It is not the language of painters
but the language of nature which one should listen to....
The feeling for the things themselves,
for reality, is more important than the feeling for pictures.
-Vincent van Gogh

Last Child in the Woods: Saving our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder

In my experience a natural phenomenon has had the power to spark some amazing investigations! In this case, a bunny and it's nest were identified in our playground which created quite a stir of excitement, wonder, and empathy by the children! I was just as excited but also surprised that we were able to experience such an incredible event in an urban environment. It was a magical few days which I am so grateful that the children and I were able to be a part of.

What follows is a snapshot of our encounters and learning from the bunnies in our playground.


It's important to note that we had to do our experiment twice. The first time we attempted, the string was not found the next day. Some of the students thought that birds took it to make their nests, or the mommy bunny took it inside the nest with her. Others said the wind blew it away. It could be that someone removed the string not knowing what its purpose was. We tried it again. This time, the following morning students noticed that the "X" looked the same as when we placed it the day before. We took a picture of it as instructed by the Toronto Wildlife Centre which would help us remember what it looked like. We concluded that the mommy bunny was not coming back for the bunnies anymore. We knew that this was an option because the Toronto Wildlife Centre told us that when the bunnies are 3 to 4 weeks old, they are old enough to be left on their own.

"The mom didn't come back so the babies are old enough to be by themselves." K. W.

Students remained interested in the bunnies even after school was over. They were not only fascinated to continue observing them, but had some concern about the safety of the bunnies being all alone with so many people and predators around. S. C. and his mom decided to check on the bunnies one evening after attending Beavers. The observations and video they shared with the class was amazing and once again, magical!

S. C.'s observations:

"The one that came out of the nest was more curious than the others." 

"There's more action in the night because the bunnies sometimes are awake at night." 

"We saw the bunny eating leaves." 

Bunnies in the playground! Thanks to S. C., family, and friends for allowing us to share this video with our learning community!


We continue to investigate our wonders and have begun to make distinctions between rabbits and hares. We also figured out that our bunnies are Cottontails. Here is H. S.'s thinking from some books and a pamphlet we read together in class, as well as in speaking with our expert friends.

After a few days, our bunnies were gone. We looked daily for them but it seems they became independent and started their own journey. But last week we got a glimpse of one who was hiding in our class flower garden! This time the students were quiet and spoke in low voices. They didn't get too close knowing that it would scare the bunny. They watched and wondered why this one remained...

Teaching children about the natural world should be treated 
as one of the most important events in their lives.
-Thomas Berry

Last Child in the Woods: Saving our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder

Saturday, 9 May 2015

Building an earth caring classroom community: Part 2

Students have continued to keep a tally of the number of days our kitchen waste has been in our compost hole. Once a week, we dig it up, make observations, then turn it a few times before burying it back up.

First time digging up the kitchen waste in the compost hole.

One morning, J. K. handed me a bag full of garbage that him and F. D. picked up on the weekend in the school park. 

"I went for a garbage walk with my mom and my scooter and the big bag was attached to my scooter, that's where the bag came from." J. K.

I was so pleased to see the learning being driven by students and extended beyond the school walls.  

I felt this was a perfect authentic opportunity for students to observe the type of garbage that J. K. and F. D. found and sort it into the correct containers.

As I pulled out item by item out of the bag, students had some amazing things to say:

"Straws are bad for birds! Their beaks can get stuck in them." M. S.

"Bands are bad for dogs and other animals." F. D.

"Wow! The recycling is overflowing!" E. E.

At this time, O. S. made a great suggestion!

"Let's make a tally!" 

Once we were done sorting the items in the bag, I asked students what they thought the tally told us?

"Recycling is the most and kitchen waste is the least." A. F.

"There is still a lot of garbage." C. D.

"If we put everything in the garbage more air will get polluted and get really stinky." O. S.

"The landfills are getting bigger if we don't sort!" J. K.

"When I go to school and I bring plastic bags I take them home and my mommy and daddy reuse them for something." P. I.

I decided to ask the class the question: 

How much garbage would we have if we didn't sort it? 

I was curious to see how they would solve this problem. A few students decided to take on this challenge and share their solution with the class. 

On Friday May 8th, our compost tally chart told us that our kitchen waste has been in our compost hole for 25 days! As we have done every Friday, a group of interested students went out with a shovel and we dug up our kitchen waste to make some observations.

We noticed changes happening in our compost hole! We will continue to dig up and make observations. Fingers crossed we will have some rich soil soon!

During the first time we dug up our compost hole, excitement filled the air as we stumbled upon a few worms at the bottom of our hole! And so began a small investigation about worms.

The following are pictures of the worm investigation documentation which is also placed in the classroom for our students and visitors to see!

Having had a conversation with students about how long our worms have been in our classroom, everyone agreed they needed to be placed back in their natural habitat. Back they went exactly where we found them, at the bottom of our compost hole!

"Now they have food! They can eat our rotten food!" R. S.