Reflections by Naturalist & Walk Leader Andrea Higgins
Photos by Gerry Beetham
Walk sponsored by Harwich Conservation Trust and the Friends of Sylvan Gardens
Sharing the morning with our HCT Preschool Explorers at the beautiful Rolf E. Sylvan Gardens Conservation Area in Chatham was such a sweet start to the spring morning yesterday. Smiling faces, flower-scented gentle breezes, blue skies, sunshine, and an abundance of blooming flowers offered a wonderful welcome for our enthusiastic adventurers.
We started our journey with a “search saunter”. Our mission today was to seek out nests and listen for birds. We searched high and low in the trees, shrubs, and bushes for nests. Each time we heard a bird we mimicked the sounds by tweeting, peeping, chirping and singing.
The Cape Cod letter of the day was the letter “N”. We searched for rocks and sticks to use as a writing tool and we each made the letter “N” in the dirt on the trail.
Slowly strolling along the path, we paused to admire the beautiful flowers, buds, branches, and bark of the different trees. A bench offered a snuggly resting area with views of Black and White Pond. A chorus of birds kept us company as I read Spring by Cynthia Amoroso and Robert B. Noyed. This book uses sweet, simple text to describe the season of spring, the changes the Earth goes through, and the effects that can be seen on plants, animals and people.
I brought a collection of real bird’s nests for our Preschool Explores to admire and gently touch to examine the exquisite design of each nest, noticing the variety of materials used. Next, it was time to create our own Nests. We searched around on the ground for materials to design and build our small, homemade bird nests. Leaves, lichens, pine needles, moss, sticks, and even a feather found by one explorer were all fun materials to add to their creations.
We pretended to be birds by flying around a grove of cedar trees following a trail. It was a great time to run and move … giggling all the while. In the middle of our flight pattern, I placed a cardboard box – our nest. Each Preschool Explorer bird took a turn sitting in the nest as their bird friends flew by offering imaginary worms and insects to pretend to nibble on.
Next, we flew back to the bench for more creating. Brightly colored construction paper with the capital letter “N” was designed by our creative Preschoolers using leaves, pebbles, sticks, mosses, lichens, fallen buds, and grasses. Our ‘N” was designed from items found in Nature!
Each Preschooler was handed a container of homemade play dough and little hands squished and molded to form nests, birds, and eggs. We excitedly continued along the paths, both running and taking time to appreciate the joy of movement. It was inspiring to explore outside on a spectacular spring day. We paused on one of the benches to savor the views, admiring the flowers and enjoying the songs of each bird species. Each Preschooler really took the time to stop and smell the flowers. One by one, each had a turn sitting on a stump that was completely surrounded by daffodils in beautiful bloom. We all admired flowering Vinca Vine (in white, light and dark purple), the lovely bell-like flowers of the Andromeda, bright Forsythia, and Trout Lily brightening the ground with their delicate yellow flowers.
Thank you caregivers, Preschool Explorers, and the Friends of Sylvan Gardens for adding such joy and wonder to this Cape Cod morning.
P.S. if you would like to make your own homemade playdough, please click here for a recipe!