The teachers planned a trip to the garden for a bug discovery with our afternoon class. Teachers packed tools: scissors to cut lettuce and plastic clam shells to observe bugs. We bring paper, markers and clipboards on all our adventures, for children to draw pictures for their Memory Books.
With the wagons loaded with our supplies and the children geared up on their bikes, the group set off on the ¾ mile trek to the garden. On the way, we decided to look for flowers of all colors. Children called out different flowers they saw and the name of the flower, if known. We also saw undisturbed spider webs, buzzing bees, and fluttering butterflies.
Upon arrival to the garden, the children were very hungry, just like a certain caterpillar we have been reading about (The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle). We found a shady spot, and ate a bag of carrots and half a box of crackers. With full bellies, we were ready to work in the garden.
Children walked down the narrow path overgrown with hops, squash vines, and fennel to our garden plot. In this short journey, we spied bees, beetles and butterflies. We listened quietly to their soft hum, and were mesmerized by their gentle motion and their avid work.
In the garden, children instantly saw a cluster of juicy red tomatoes. Using our plastic clam shells, each child was able to pick a cherry tomato to bring back to the school. “Mmmm, they will be good,” commented one child when picking the cherry tomato. Another child, pointing to a green tomato, exclaimed “This one isn’t ready yet.”
In the heat of the sun, a teacher offered a spray of the hose on the shower setting to cool off the children. They gathered around and danced in “the rain,” with gratitude for the cold water, on the hot day.
Going back to work, the children split into different activities. Some children used scissors to cut the lettuce leaves for snack, some pulled radish greens and others moved slowly, looking for hidden bugs.
With the plastic clam shells in hand, children looked intently at the garden leaves, finding the hidden layer of bugs among the plants. We first spotted a grasshopper and with very slow movements, we were able to catch it. It wasn’t long before the grasshopper was able to jump right out of our case, hiding again in the garden bed.
Finding a new spot to spy some bugs, children noticed a small bug walking on the edge of a leaf. It was a harlequin beetle. This beetle is often found in our area, allowing teachers to share some knowledge about the life cycle of this beetle and some of their favorite vegetables to eat, one being our Chinese cabbage. Children passed their clam shells to the teacher as they relocated the beetle for further exploration.
Lastly, with the lure of a butterfly bush, the teacher was able to capture a Monarch butterfly. We were careful not to touch the butterfly scales, so as not to harm the butterfly in this close encounter. The children were delighted to view the butterfly, before it was set it free.
After a thorough look for bugs, children walked from the gardens across the path, to the goats. Children noticed the different style ears of the goats, some having long floppy ears and others having short ones. Children were curious if they were mother goats or daddy goats. Teachers showed children the utters of the mother goats and shared that other goats were the babies.
Time escaped us during this journey and before we knew it, it was time to head back to school. Children collected their supplies, hopped in the wagon, and we were on our way.