Boulder Open Space and Mountain Parks (OSMP) Forest Visit

By Britt Alstad

During our Story Book Journey of Goldilocks And The Three Bears, the Children’s House classroom has a ranger station, forest miniatures, forest stuffed animals, and ranger costumes. We thought a visit from Boulder Open Space and Mountain Parks, OSMP, would be an opportunity to bridge the community with our classroom.

In specific preparation for the visit, the children were asked what questions they had about the forest, rangers, and forest animals.

The morning of the visit, Jen did an act out using miniatures of, “Curious George Goes Camping”. This book highlights fire safety and includes campsites and many forest animals

Friday before break, Melissa, a teacher from OSMP, visited us. She brought many wonderful artifacts from the forest. The first was a bearskin. Melissa elicited from the children what clothing they wear when it is cold or warm, demonstrating that the bearskin had a warm winter coat. Each child was able to feel it and they described the fur as, “Thick, soft, and cozy.”

Melissa described how the bears eat berries all summer, hardly stopping to sleep, only napping. Melissa showed pictures of bears napping in trees around Boulder County. Then the children pretended to eat berries, and then felt their full bellies.

Then Melissa asked what it is called when animals sleep all winter. Two children answered hibernate. Melissa explained the term and then put the bear skin in the middle of the circle. She had the children put their heads on the bears skin and imagine what sounds they would hear near a bear sleeping.

Hibernation on the bear skin from Michael Knuckey on Vimeo.

Melissa went through the other articles including a coyote pelt, photos of coyotes, a mounted weasel with its winter white coat, photos of weasels with brown coats in the summer, a life-like rubber snake, and a real snake skin.

Melissa talked about how camouflage helps the animals to hide. The children pretended to be each of the animals throughout the presentation, howling like coyotes, sneaking like weasels and slithering like snakes.

Melissa then answered the children’s questions and talked about what to do if you see a bear when you are out hiking. The group gathered behind her and Elaine, and “got big” reaching high into the air.

The questions the children had prepared were:

What is a ranger?

Where is the ranger house?

How do you roast marshmallows?

How do you put out fires?

The children demonstrated curiosity and long attention spans throughout Melissa’s presentation, and were able not only to retain the information, but share their knowledge later. As a follow up activity, we had the children draw a picture of something they remembered from the visit.

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