Cold Hike with 1st Graders

Last week, I hiked with groups of 1st graders at the Howard County Conservancy’s Mt. Pleasant Farm. It was the coldest field trip of the fall season so far – with the temperature in the 40s. On the plus side – it was a sunny day so it looked warmer that it felt.  


I arrived early to take some pictures before the buses and put on several layers before I left my car. The leaves are still mostly green.

It like the sunshine on the ferns and seed pods.


There were still a few flowers late season flowers for the pollinators still around or coming through. Apparently, there are still a few hummingbirds although they are usually mostly further south by this time.

There were several other field trip groups at the Mt. Pleasant on the same day: high schoolers down at the stream and a group of babies/toddlers/pre-K children with parents. All three groups arrived in about 30 minutes: the high school bus then the young group in cars that seemed to fill up half the parking lot (a larger informal group that usual) and then the 2 bus loads of 1st graders, their teachers, and their chaperones.

The students were dressed for the weather and enjoyed hiking. We talked about what lives in trees and saw squirrels and their nests….some birds. We saw the domestic chickens and goats…talked about how they stayed warm and what they ate.


The children found a snake skin on a stump…and the second group saw a very small rat snake sunning itself on an old stump.

Good hikes and activities…then hand washing and a picnic! What a great 1st grade morning!

Macro photography before hiking

Last week I was at Howard County Conservancy’s Mt. Pleasant Farm for several field trips (kindergarteners and second graders). Before the field trips, I walked around the grounds and experimented with some more macro photography with my smartphone – using the same set up as I did at Brookside Gardens earlier (results from Brookside here).

It is sometimes surprising how different something looks with the macro lens. The textures along with the small structures I wouldn’t see otherwise are what makes it so appealing to walk around taking pictures with the macro lens. My favorite in this group is the baby pear.

The highpoint of the hikes with the school groups happened during the kindergarten field trip. I had walked up to the front of the farm house with my first group of the day. We were talking about what might live in the big oak tree near the house. They answered squirrels and birds right away. I turned around to look at the tree – and noticed a black coil in a depression of the trunk about at the eye level of children! The sun was shining on it like a spotlight. I turned back to the children and told them that black rat snakes live in trees too – and there was one right on the trunk of tree (and I was glad we were not standing any closer than we were). The two parent chaperones took a step back. The children just watched as the snake started moving and crawled under the loose bark of the tree. What a fabulous drama to start a field trip!