Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Prairie Ridge

On our field trip this week, we visited Prairie Ridge in Raleigh.
We had a beautiful morning for exploring and learning.  The staff were kind and informative and it was a great field trip.  This site is open for visitors during the day and I'm hoping that my family can go back for a visit again soon.

We started in a large group and the facilitators asked the children what they were interested in learning or seeing during the day.  The younger kids were very interested in animals.

We split into groups and I went with my 3 youngest kids on one of the tours.  We started near a bird blind.  Isn't it fun looking?

Inside were posters, books and a bench for sitting and observing.

This is the view from the blind.

About midway through the morning, I made a note to myself.  I hope I"ll remember it.  I need to wipe off my camera before using it because Eliana tends to smudge it.  lol  My little photographer loves to take pictures.  I have so many of her feet!  Her shoes today were a big hit though.

From here we headed to the pond.  
The children split into 4 groups on blankets to observe some creatures from the pond.  The staff had already scooped up some pond stuff and then the kids put it into a big bucket.
From the bucket, they moved it into small ice cube trays for closer observation.  They were told that it was easier to see the small animals/insects against the white of the tray.

They were given magnification boxes so that they could look more closely.  How fun is that?!

There were field guides to help you identify what you were seeing.

I liked this homemade guide.  A large picture of various insects to compare with the creature in the box.

They then had a snack for the kids.  How thoughtful!  I asked about what was available as I wasn't prepared for this to happen.  (We didn't know that they were going to offer a snack.)  I thought I would just stay away from the snack area and do something else with Eliana.  To my surprise, they had gluten free snacks - both pretzels and animal cookies.

I thanked one of the staff for having this while explaining that Eliana has Celiac disease and has to eat GF.  She told me that it hadn't been planned, but was just what had been available for them to bring out to the group.  I knew it was more.  It was a small reminder to me that God is in the details.  He blessed me through this staff by having a cookie that my little girl could eat.  I hope that whoever purchases the food hears of this blessing as I know buying GF foods are more expensive and I do appreciate the effort!

The next activity is something that can be done at home.  What a creative way to explore nature!  The kids were given tape to go around their wrists.  Then each child was given a paint sample square.  Their task was to find something in that shade that matched.  Not just any green would do - but their green.  The samples were in green, yellow, orange and brown.

Heading out on a nature hike.
Looking for a match.
Finding interesting and beautiful critters along the way.
Can you see the spider below?  Its green!  I didn't realize that spiders were green!
The path was beautiful and there was a lot to explore.  (Including rocks like the one she is holding in her hand.)

Our hike took us from pond to prairie and from plants grown in lowlands to mountains.

This site is adjacent to a National Guard facility so we spotted some other interesting things that day too!
A creek is always enjoyed by children!

More insects to enjoy and learn about.  From bugs to caterpillars.  

Can you see the Monarch chrysalis on this tree?  It was so beautiful and the photo does not do it justice.  The gold trim on it was lovely!
Our last activity was to look at the types of insects that lived in the grasses and compare them to what had been found in the pond.  Using a large net and swinging it through the grass captured some spiders, grasshoppers and more.  These were dumped on blankets and the kids could capture and examine them with the magnifying boxes.

We finished off with lunch.  It was a fun and relaxing day.  I love this way of learning.  I'm thankful for the opportunity to learn more about God's creation.  I'm thankful for this time to spend with my family and friends.  I'm thankful.