Seeds and Oak Trees: Explorers Enjoy a Stunning Spring Day at Texeira Conservation Lands

Reflections by Naturalist & Walk Leader Andrea Higgins
Photos courtesy of HCT Volunteer Photographer Gerry Beetham

Preschool Explorers gathered at the 16-acre Texeira Conservation Lands on Tuesday, May 23rd. The sun was shining bright and the temperature was a comfortable 60 degrees. A cloudless bright blue sky above welcomed us to this terrific outdoor classroom.

Once everyone was gathered at the trailhead, I handed each Explorer a magnifying lens so we could take a closer look at the flowers that were blooming along the trailside. The first object of our investigation was the yellow, orange, and peach hues of spurge, also known as love in a huddle. While gathered in a tight-knit circle around the flowers, we discovered ants crawling over the blossoms and used our magnifying lenses to see their incredible details. Next, we took a closer look at blackberry brambles, noting the shapes of their leaves and delicate white flowers. Cherry and oak trees also received ample attention from Explorers as they too were investigated with careful awareness.

Viewers in hand, we scanned the grasses and discovered a red ladybug with black polka dots and each youngster took a turn gently holding the brightly-colored beetle. Bright yellow buttercups, deep purple sweet peas, and fuzzy white dandelions were also appreciated. Tree swallows with their bright white bellies and iridescent blue backs watched on from their nest boxes as the children observed their environment. Gentle breezes carried perfumed fragrances and our ears were filled with a variety of delightful song bird melodies.

Gathering near a magnificent, sturdy oak with mighty branches stretching out and upward, we sat together on a mat to listen to our first stories of the morning: Lola Plants a Garden by Anna McQuinn, National Geographic Kids: A Seed is the Start by Melissa Stewart, and Because of an Acorn by Lola M. Schaefer and Adam Schaefer.

Inspired by our stories, an art project was our next activity. Glue, markers, crayons, construction paper, and imaginations were combined to create unique flowers. Caregivers traced their preschoolers’ hands to create the blossom, then stems and leaves were added to complete the craft.

While our artists were busy creating, I set up a planting station with compostable cups, organic soil, watering cans, spoons (mini shovels), and tomato, nasturtium, and marigold seeds. I also set up an acorn to oak tree lab containing intact acorns, acorns split open with roots and shoots, and oak tree seedlings. After each Explorer filled their cups with soil and seed they also cared for an oak tree seedling by putting it in a compostable cup then adding both soil and water. Oaks are such a valuable tree, providing food and habitat for many insects, birds, and mammals.

After our planting session it was time for a search saunter. Together we discovered coyote scat, star flowers, Canada mayflower, rolly pollies, ants, pine cones, moss, lichen, poison ivy, blueberry blossoms, more blackberry brambles, new oak leaves, and tender maple leaves. We were absolutely surrounded with the abundance of beauty offered at this magnificent Preserve.

Explorers and their caregivers gathered again on the mat for our final story of the morning. I read Have You Seen Trees? by Joanne Oppenheim as our attentive group sat together in the sunshine in a field full of fragrant flowers at the woodland’s edge. Artwork, oak tree seedlings, and vegetable and flower seed cups were collected. I thanked our families for joining me and wished all a wonderful week.

I am already excited for next Tuesday morning. Looking forward to seeing you all again.

Happy Exploring.


Ms. Andrea