Last week, a kindergarten class was the first field trip of the ‘spring’ at Howard County Conservancy’s Mt. Pleasant Farm. The temperature was in the 30s and there was a little breeze – very wintery feeling. The children and I had our coats zipped, hoods up, and gloves on. We hiked and looked for signs of spring….and remnants of other seasons.
We saw daffodils coming up and snow drops blooming…signs of spring. We looked at holly with its shiny green leaves and red berries which is often symbolic of winter. One holly was leaning over the snow drop bed.
We saw evidence of squirrels around: lots of opened black walnut shells which had been their food all during the winter. We searched the trees for squirrel nests but decided that the strong winds recently must have blown the nests away.
There were some trees that had been cut down recently. We noted that the centers had been rotting which was probably why they had been cut. The largest stump was near the farm house and the children crowded onto it for their teacher to take a field trip picture!
The children were surprised to see the witch hazel in bloom and learning that it normally blooms in late winter. They saw the brown leaves on the ground and still clinging to the branches of the tree – correctly identifying them as the leaves from last summer/fall.
There was a winter jasmine with buds of all sizes – and a single flower. It was another sign of spring on the way. They were surprised at the different sizes of buds and identified the ones that were about ready to open.
In the old orchard, we looked at the buds on the apple trees and the pear tree – deciding that the pear tree would probably bloom first based on way the buds looked.
By the end of the hike – they were ready for a little warm up in the nature center then back outdoors for a focused lesson starting with looking for animal tracks in the muddy areas.
It was a good start to the ramp up of spring field trips!