Backyardsafari's Blog

Environmental Inspiration in Your Own Backyard

All the Small Things May 25, 2010

I had another great day today exploring a forested area with a group of students. They were second graders, and we spent the morning searching through the woods to see what we could discover!

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The students found a few different salamanders–this one is especially tiny! Take a look at the zoomed-out picture to see just how small it really is:

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This is a perfect example of how great kids are at looking at nature. This salamander is so small, I am not sure that I ever would have found it if I had been by myself!  I have been making a point lately to start each day by telling the kids that they have something very special that I and the other teachers do not have–they are close to the ground! They have a completely different view than most adults because of this, and can notice things that are not readily apparent to us from 5 and 6 feet off the ground.

For one of the activities I sent the kids to search for seeds. In the process I showed them how some birds, like crows, kick their feet through the wet leaves on the ground to search for worms living underneath. The kids then went out through the forest and searched–this is how they found the salamanders! They also found a lot of pine cones and acorns. One student found a very small acorn and when he took the cap off we discovered there were tiny little ants with eggs living underneath! It was really amazing to see, and gave us a chance to talk about different perspectives. Imagine all of us walking along like giants as a whole colony of ants live out their lives in a tiny acorn cap next to the path!

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The kids also found this large millipede, which I found out when I heard a bunch of screaming! I did some google searching and the only name I can find for this guy is the latin one: Apheloria virginiensis corrugata. If anyone knows the common name, though, let me know!

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Finally, the kids found some of these walnut seeds as they searched around in the leaves. If you look closely around the lighter brown edges where the seed is open you can see the little teeth marks left behind by a squirrel or chipmunk that has been gnawing at the seed!  After I noticed this I was able to pass them around and point out the tiny little lines the teeth made, which led to a talk about different ways you can tell an animal is present even if you don’t see it.

I talk a lot on this blog about looking closer and noticing the little things around you–going out in to nature with children is a great way to do just that! They found so many interesting things during our time together today, many of which I am not sure I would have seen if I was by myself. We can all learn something from these students, and try to really look closely at the world around us!

The next time I go out I’m going to try to do this–if an entire ant colony can be living under an acorn cap, imagine what else could be happening right under our noses!

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3 Responses to “All the Small Things”

  1. […] living all around them! I posted some pictures of students’ finds from previous excursions before, and the students found even more on a second day out. For this day I had the students explore a […]

  2. […] pictures of amphibians many times before on this blog, which you can see here, here, here, here, here, and here. Frogs, toads, and salamanders are wonderful for people of all ages, but kids especially […]

  3. shannon Says:

    the Apheloria virginiensis corrugata is also known as the peach pit millipede for it scent (use of cyanide for defenses)


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