Tuesday, July 14, 2015

June 2015: lessons from a snail

Last month an observant kiddo found a snail, and he came back every week looking for another one. Never having reason to crawl around our woods until being in there with a bunch of toddlers, I've never seen a single snail in all my time in the woods in the past three years until this one showed up last month. But June was a lucky month because they showed up in troves! One day we found 7, another day 5. The land snails we find are the exact same color as the rocks and sticks they like to climb on, so the kids really put their sharp seeking eyes on to find these guys! I loved watching the kids learn to wait very still and patiently with a withdrawn snail in their palm until the snail felt safe enough to push his tentacles back out into the world. We put snails on a piece of plexiglass and watched from underneath as they slowly made their way across to see how their muscles work when they crawl. Kids were fascinated to hear that snails call pull up to 200 times their weight (what!!) from a fun book we read together about a snail called Snippet the Early Riser by Bethanie Deeney Murguia. They learned to call their shell shape a "spiral" and one adept observer remarked that they looked like galaxies. Keen observers notices snails like to eat twisted stalk (at least rotting twisted stalk) and that snails like to hang out on sticks and rocks and under pieces of wood. So many lessons in a snail, I'd never have guessed!
Tons of good snail info here:

Bird song surrounds us nearly every moment now in the woods. Kids ask about and are beginning to recognize the long warbling trill of the Winter Wren and the complicated roller coaster ride-like song of the Ruby-crowned Kinglet. The also know eagle and love to gaze upwards to try to catch a peak of him soaring above our corner of the forest. Raven made an appearance a few days this month, flying right into the forest to check us out. Kids are also familiar with the rat-a-tat-tat of the Red-breasted Sap Sucker, telling me when they heard one or spotted one hopping up and down a tree trunk. One student even spotted some Red-breasted Sapsucker holes bored high-up into the bark of a hemlock tree that towers over our creek.

In this unusually warm June we got to experience berries!! Blueberries ripened first and oh-so-early! By the end of the month a few Salmonberries and Watermelon berries were making an appearance. Each and every day the children have gone in search of berries, some of them spending nearly their entire day seeking the biggest, sweetest, most perfect one. Many tiny hands left the forest speckled in berry blue. On the rainy days we still made forest tea, adding berries to our usual mix of blueberry leaves, salmonberry leaves, and Western Hemlock tree needles.

We had little rain this month, so our creek was an infrequent visitor. The little ones have enjoyed exploring the dry creek bed and have discovered lots of snails, worms, and slugs under rocks and near this area. They have also really seemed to like climbing down waterfalls and steeper sections of the creek that normally are pretty
dry creek being explored
unwelcoming with water rushing down them. Kids also relished being able to dig and gather the gravel and rocks from the creek bed, engineering clever solutions for how to move gravel, build things from it, and pack it down into the dirt again.

We had a rainy day and the children were thrilled to be able to stomp in rain puddles again and welcome their friend the creek back. It was almost like not having the rain for a stretch made them sit up and notice it's intricacies. One kid pointed to droplets hanging from green moss that seemed to glow and exclaimed, "look! little lights!"

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