Summer 2012 – Week 8 – Tremendous Trees and Photography!

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We saw a lot of wildlife this week, as seen in the photos above – many of which were taken by the kids themselves!  Great stuff!  Thanks to Alexandra for the commentary below about the week!

Monday:

We decided to leave early in order to get to the mountains before the rain came. We drove to Big Tesuque and had time to play in the river and climb up the side of the mountain before the rain started to fall. We got back to the van to escape the early storm. In the van we learned the “Tree Song.” We drove down the mountain to a shelter to have lunch and went to another spot in the woods to play games. We played camera tag, meet a tree, collected materials to make picture frames, played statue and sculpture, two truths and a lie, and a water drinking game. Then we headed back to the children’s museum to make our picture frames. We reflected on what we loved and what we learned in our closing circle. It was wonderful how much the group learned about one another in one day- new friends and old friends!

Tuesday:

We went to Pecos National Monument. It is a great place to practice ‘take only pictures, leave only footprints’. We learned about Kivas and the history of the pueblo before and after the Spanish came.  It was very interesting. We worked on our journals and spoke about documentation, what that means, and how it can be done. We are using pictures and drawing to document our time together. We went into the Kiva and learned about how they are built and what they were used for. We hiked around the ruins and played games during water breaks. After lunch we made sun prints, learning about light and exposure. Then we played a big game of tag. At the end of the day we learned a new song, reflected, and read The Giving Tree. A wonderful day out!

Wednesday:

Today we learned about tree anatomy: the tap roots, surface roots, heartwood, cambium, and bark. We acted out the various parts of the tree. We reviewed how to use our cameras. Then, after reading some tree stories, we headed to Leonora Curtain (a wetland preserve that is part of the Santa Fe botanical gardens). We were given a tour where we learned about the history of the wetlands and how ecologically special they are. The kids were so excited to take pictures and it was great to sit under the big cottonwood trees for stories and games. We played games using blindfolds and tried to remember the details of landscapes we were taken to. We also hugged a huge cottonwood –  it took everybody in the group! Seeing all the frogs in the pond was another highlight. We played more games to review the tree anatomy and looked at everyone’s favorite picture of the day. The day was great fun and we were lucky to have such nice weather!

Thursday:

Today we began the day with pinhole cameras. These cameras take a lot of patience!  It is interesting to contrast them with digital cameras where we get unlimited chances to take pictures already in focus. It was exciting for the kids to use our little viewfinders and find the shot they wanted to take with the idea that they only have one shot. Then we exposed the film and closed it up again! Picture taken! We read a story and had snack and headed to the Beaver Ponds. After taking a good hike and playing some games we put on face paint and it began to rain. We decided to head back and get out of the drizzle. We headed back early to the museum where we played freeze tag, made birds nests, and read stories about trees and reviewed our learning from the week. It was another great day!

Summer 2012 – Week 7 – Super Hikers and Wilderness Skills!

Big Super Hikers!

BIGS (7-9 year olds)

We had lots of fun this week with our Big “super hikers”.  We hiked the Black Canyon trail, the Rio en Medio trail to the waterfall, the trail to Carl’s Meadow at Aspen Vista, and the Ski Basin.

We went over maps, directions, compass, orienteering, poison ivy identification, equipment, safety, lightning position, and knots. The kids drew maps in their journals, played the game fascinating facts where each kid had one fact to tell all the others on the trail and then there was a trivia game at the end. A lot of water drinking games, wilderness facts, wilderness trivia in the car “Worst Case Scenario Game”. We went over stream crossing, lots of riddles, camouflage, flash flood, dead bugs, white out, compass course, and more. Tomorrow we are going to be signaling, shelter building, making a travois, and playing more games. Today we didn’t even make it to the meadow before we had some serious thunder and lighting so we retreated and went to Fort Marcy. Mark set up a compass course while Heather taught how to tie a figure 8, clove hitch, and then the knot of their choice from the knot book. It was lots of fun. Tomorrow we will finish with our super hiker ceremony.

The BIGS at Rio en Medio waterfall

We ended super hiker week with a bang and no rain. We went over topographic maps, built lean-to shelters, stopped and made many shelters for Smoky the Bear; both tee pee and desert-style. We practiced signaling with mirrors and creating SOS signs. We built a Travois, and saw five grouse – very exciting!  We super hiked part of the trail and Mark and Heather handed out bracelets for their great hiking skills and knowledge. They all left knowing how to read a compass. Overall, it was a great week!

Shelter Building

LITTLES:  (5-6 year olds)

Monday:

Today we went to Black Canyon. It was so beautiful. We choose our animal for the week. Mountain Goats seemed to fit us since we are super hikers (or really, wee wanderers). We learned about North, East, South, West (Never Eat Soggy Waffles) and how to find our way with compasses and maps. We made a group flag and played camouflage games. It was great to play in the woods. We looked at pictures of poison ivy so that we can be ready if we see any on the trails. We also gathered ‘instruments’ (rocks and sticks) and made a symphony! Then we heard the thunder. We headed back to the vans as the rain began to fall. By the time we got to the van and escaped the rain we decided to head back to the Children’s Museum and play. We reflected on our day and played in the sandbox. A great day!

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Tuesday:

This morning we had some pretty tired campers, so we decided to call off our hike and play some games by the Tesuque Creek at Shidoni. It was FUN! When we got there we had a little tour of the place where they make the sculptures and then went to play in the river. It was wonderful and much needed play time. We then played tons of tag style and hide and seek games. We practiced being still and stealthy hiding in the sculptures. Then we worked on observation skills and played ‘Museum’. We were preparing to see the small movements of animals in the forest. We took on the movements of deer, alligators, butterflies, and other animals that may be still in order to protect themselves. After some more river play and lunch, we went to the glass blowers studio and they let us watch while they made a shellfish. It was super cool! Then we headed to the museum to play and reflect before heading home! It was a really rejuvenating and delightful day.

Wednesday:

With our energy stored up we were ready for a super hike. We went to Big Tesuque where we hiked up the river to play and collect bugs. We played camouflage games and then began to feel the drops of rain. There was no thunder, so we continued to play. Then, as the kids started to get cold, we headed down to stick close to the vans. The thunder began, so we loaded up. As the doors shut, the rain got heavier. We headed to town to have a treat of hot chocolate and story time. At the museum, we made fairy houses and rock collection bags. We had snacks of white cheddar popcorn and strawberries. Yum! Even though we got rained out, it was a great day.

Thursday:

Today was a blast! We went to the Ski Basin, identifying landmarks along the way. Once there, the kids collected grasshoppers to carefully look at in glass jars. They released them and then began their search again! We played tree tag, museum, and blob. All the kids used their rock collection bags and some carefully selected a few rocks to take home. We hiked to the top of the double chairlift and some opted to go further with Jennie. We wandered into the woods and made a lean-to and tee pees out of fallen wood. Then we hiked down to play in the river. At the end of the day, we reviewed safety tips and backpack essentials as well as the cardinal directions.

Summer 2012 – Week 6 – Massive Mammals and Insects!

Monday: Today the Littles went to Little Tesuque Creek.  In the morning they introduced themselves, thinking of their favorite mammals. We mostly had furry friends, but one camper did come up with a Dolphin. They practiced animal gaits and on a big piece of cardboard decided on rules for the week, such as respect, leave no trace, and wear your hat! In the car ride the Littles sang camp songs about bears and bees. Once on the trail we spotted butterflies and worked on using our reference pictures to identify them. We came up with our group animal, coyotes, and practiced howling. We also practiced finding our buddies hide and seek style. Today we focused on tracks and scat, which we will be referencing all week. We played What Time is It Mr. Fox and a few other jumping and clapping games. After lunch we continued on our hike and found a nice coyote den to make the cover page of our nature journals and the decorations for our safari hats. Then it began to rain. We put on rain jackets and headed to the warm van. After reading a book we decided to call it a day for the mountains and have some city fun. We went to the Railyard Park and looked at the progress of the Mountain Kids plot in the community garden. We played on the playground and had a nice closing circle learning about coyotes and thanking the earth for rain. It was a wonderful day.

Tuesday: Today was a beaver day! We headed to beaver ponds bright and early. Mark did a presentation dressing up like a beaver and Jenny passed around pictures for everyone to see how many cool traits beavers possess. Afterward, we hiked off pretty far, passing the ponds and heading into the woods and bushes. We found sit spots by the river and made sound maps of the water and birds. After playing in the water, the hike continued up to find a view and a nice little den to have lunch. After lunch we headed back down to the ponds to make beaver dams. It was raining and there were some cold campers so we hiked back the van.  We warmed up in the van and went to Fort Marcy Park to play a huge game of freeze tag. We read the beaver book and reflected in circle before heading back to the Children’s Museum. It was a wonderful day!

Wednesday: The trip to Las Golondrinas was wonderful. We began the day at the museum learning about all the all the insects inside the museum. The kids each did a sketch of their favorite insect. Then Jenny led them in learning some Spanish songs and words to prepare for the trip. We all had a snack and then headed out. Once there the Littles went to learn about yarn and weaving with looms. We visited the animals and had a chance to pet the goat. Then we visited the blacksmith – that was exciting! We had lunch under the big beautiful trees and then read a story. The coyotes played together in the tree (known to them as the coyote den). We took a trip to the pond where we saw frogs, water snakes, tadpoles, dragonflies, and butterflies. We sang songs about frogs and pretended we were like our big green floating friends. At the end of the day we reflected on all the animals we had seen.

Thursday: The morning began with a visit from Ranger Rowdy (Heather in costume). We learned about mammals and looked at real animal pelts! Then we headed for the Big Tesuque Campground. It was cool and beautiful. The coyotes hiked to a clearing to play lots of games! Then we hiked back down for lunch and had time to paint and play in the river. We read ‘We’re Going On a Bear Hunt’. The clouds began to get dark so we got jackets on a prepared for the storm. We played until the rain began to fall. Since we were ready for the rain and so close to the van we stayed as long as we could.  We dried off on the ride back and most of the Littles took a quiet rest. Back at the museum we played in the sandbox and had a circle to remember what we had learned during the week: beavers, tracks and scat, insects, frogs! Then the rain caught up with us and we stayed dry in the greenhouse until pick up time. It was a treat to have so much rain![slideshow]