Little Blue Herons Blog
Our Little Blue Herons do not have a weekly theme which allows educators to design each week in response to individual children's needs and interests.
Week 1: May 30 & June 1
Camp Week Summary:
Our Little Blue Herons group loved pretending to be animals this week! We flew as quietly as butterflies, or crept on tiny mice feet when we left our classroom to play outside.
In our Children's Garden, overturned logs became boats and the children turned into crocodiles that our instructors fed with fish (wood chips). Further out in the woods, we discovered that sticks were good for digging, and making sounds on trees, rocks and the sand. Likewise, wooden spoons could be good diggers but also turn into fishing poles just by attaching a shoe string.
Children's gross motor skills were challenged when we climbed up big stone stairs, walked on the uneven surface of the sand, and balanced on rocks and logs. Since children were enjoying the sounds of sticks on the floor in our classroom, and on a variety of objects outside, we read the book Max Found Two Sticks and imagined playing drums with our fantastic sticks. Drawing and painting inside and outside were also popular activities, and we loved finding worms underneath logs and watching them wiggle. We all loved wiggling our own bodies and singing songs about wiggling, too!
Week 2: June 4, 6, 8
Camp Week Summary:
Our Little Blue Herons group had a wonderfully active week searching for worms and roly polies in our children's garden, digging holes in the sand, and playing in our creek! This group loved engaging in gross motor activities, and really stretched their legs out in the woods.
A favorite thing to do in our Children's Garden was grabbing sticks and wooden spoons to drum on our big metal tubs. Running through the big wind chimes and enjoying the noise that was made was also a sensory hit! When our instructors noticed that the children were interested in throwing rocks and hitting rocks together, they packed a rock hammer and safety goggles during creek time. Children donned the safety goggles, got their rocks wrapped in a rag, and were able to focus on using fine motor skills to control the rock hammer and crack their rocks open!! This activity was arrived at intentionally by our instructors, who wanted to provide the 4 year old children in the group an opportunity to challenge their physical abilities and explore their capacity for handling a tool responsibly.
When some of the 2 year olds became interested and pursued the activity, our instructors were able to observe the extent to which young children can manage their own bodies and focus on an activity that acknowledges their abilities and challenges them to grow their motor skills.
It was an exciting moment for teachers and children to learn together, and an example of the importance of play in nature for young children's development.
Week 3: June 11, 13, 15
Camp Week Summary:
This week, the children really drove our activity choices. Digging in the sand and making sand castles was very popular, and inspired mud-making in our Children's Garden. Using our big tin tubs, we got water from our hose and added gardening soil. A lot of joyful play in the mud resulted. Children had mud on their faces, clothes, and pretty much every place they could find to put mud. Instructors got in on the fun, too, and my favorite thing was being served mud ice cream. The children took my order, offered me my choice of flavors, and made sure I enjoyed the delicious treat they created! It is exciting to watch imaginative play develop through outdoor activities like mud making.
Children also got a lot of good sensory exploration, as they touched and tried to describe how the mud felt. Friendships also began when cooperation was required to turn over the big stumps in our children's garden. Instructors monitor children as they take on big physical tasks, but allow and encourage children to work out the challenge for themselves without adult interference.
Children were able to discover that if two of them pushed on a big stump, they could get enough force to turn it over and then look for worms to feed our box turtles. In the woods, almost the entire group worked together to pick up a very large piece of bamboo and move it towards the stream- where they wanted to block the water. They are starting to learn a great deal about physics, and working with others, as they launch themselves into these activities!
Week 4: June 18, 20, 22
Day 1: Today we went to the community garden. On the way, we saw a rabbit! We also stopped to look under logs for bugs and visited our honeybees.
Day 2: Today we roared like dinos, buried our feet, and dug holes as deep as we could. We also explored and added to the forts built by the older campers!
Day 3: Friday we looked for birds, played hide-n-seek, made cakes in sand, and tried to catch frogs!!
Week 5: June 25, 27, 29
Day 1: On Monday morning, we joined the Great Blue Heron campers for fun in the sand. Mixing age groups allowed older and younger siblings to play together, and older campers introduced new ways of playing in our stick forts and sand to the younger group. When the older group departed, we cuddled up in holes that we dug in the sand and pretended we were baby birds in a nest. We gave each other "worms" to eat, which were really sticks, and we pretended we were dinosaurs. Those of us who liked roaming in the woods went on the search for a path to "Dinoland"!
Day 2: This morning we made our own playdough using flour, salt, water and cream of tartar! We dyed it fun colors and enjoyed playing with our creation. We love doing gross motor activities outside, and today we got a special surprise from the Trailblazers camp. They made us an outdoor obstacle course using logs, sticks, pinecones and the sand. We got to walk on logs, climb through stick tunnels, dig for buried treasure, and even bury ourselves! We jumped in the holes the Trailblazers dug for us and then we had them fill up the hole with sand while we stood in it!! We loved the feeling of sand on our skin, and the challenge of climbing out. The obstacle course inspired imaginative play, and we turned one of the big logs into a canoe. We loved pretending to paddle our canoe through the woods!
Day 3: We loved playing outside and digging in the sand today. The stick forts built by the older campers are perfect little houses for us. We can crawl in and out and practice our gross motor skills. We discovered that we love to play hide and go seek. We hide up against a tree and hope that we are camouflaged enough so that no one will see us!! Some friends also loved playing peek-a-boo by hiding on opposite sides of a tree, and then peeking around the trunk to surprise each other. Our camp instructors enjoyed playing this with us, too! Even though we couldn't go in the creek today, we did get to do some water play when we washed off our very sandy feet. We filled our metal tubs with water and enjoyed a little foot bath before going home!!
Week 6: July 2 & 6
Day 1: Today, we built stick houses with the Great Blue Herons campers and played the Three Little Pigs. We also made cakes and pizza in the sand! We even listened and looked for whales in the creek, and our group was able to be so quiet that we could hear the birds singing around us! We are already planning to do some bird play on Friday, and maybe we will even build nests and play inside them!!
Day 2: Today we caught spiders, built a fort and learned all about birds and birds' nests!
Week 7: July 9, 11, 13
Day 1: Today we went on a treasure hunt looking for hidden stamps! We followed our very own treasure map, and stamped our "passports" whenever we found one. Some of us even stamped our own hands! We loved digging in the sand at every stop we made, and giggled every time our shovels "hid" under the sand. We explored the stick fort the older campers made, and enjoyed knocking down some of the sticks! Our treasure hunt ended near the creek, where we went fishing!!
Day 2: We played with the big kids today! The Trailblazers set up an obstacle course and a hidden treasure hunt for us, and we set out trying to find the treasures they hid. We found colorful flags, and insect pit fall traps. Some were full of crickets that we caught!
Day 3: We love maps! As soon as we got outside this morning, we picked up some of Blue Heron's visitor guides and looked at the map to see where we wanted to go. We tried to figure out the way we should travel on the map. We pointed out that we wanted to get to the creek- so we began heading that way. On our way to the creek, we stopped to play and dig in the sand. Some of us tried balancing on fallen logs, others collected pine cones to make little imaginary forests and cities in the sand. At the creek, we enjoyed the really shallow water. It was perfect for jumping in, throwing rocks, and pretending to fish!
Week 8: July 16, 18, 20
Day 1: On our first day together we went out hiking and exploring in our woods! We love to map and seek out new discoveries, so our week will focus on what we can find all over the Preserve.
Day 2: Today we went on a scavenger hunt outside, we love being active and running from place to place to find hidden treasures! We kept our big muscles working when we blew big bubbles and tried to pop them! It is fun to chase after them outside, and watch and see how high the bubbles go or if they pop on a tree, the sand, or some other fun place. We also spent some time in our Children's Garden turning over big logs and finding roly-poly friends. They are easy to pick up, and tickle in our hands! Since we couldn't spend much time in the creek because of all the rain, we got potting soil and water into our big tin tubs and made mud!! We all got super muddy and it was fun to feel the different texture of mud on our skin when it was wet and when it dried.
Day 3: Today the flow of the creek was low and slow- and the water was clear- the perfect day for a visit!! We loved getting in the water for part of camp, and exploring the amazing rocks that we find at the creek. They are shiny, smooth, and so many shapes and colors! Skipping rocks, building in the sand, and running around on the island were fun activities for our group!
Week 9: July 23, 25, 17
Day 1: We had an exciting morning to start our week! When our group hit the trail, they grabbed a trail map and helped one of our instructors read it. They knew that the big, blue circle areas meant a pond or lake, while the blue line meant a stream! We found several areas that were good for digging, and got very excited to dig up some worms. They tickled in our hands! Sand is great for digging, but also for sand castle building! Once we got engaged in doing this, we forgot about how the sand in our shoes made us uncomfortable. Another exciting thing was finding small green ball shaped things on the trail. They looked and felt like grapes- but we don't think they really were grapes. We aren't sure what their name is, but they were so much fun to hold and pick apart. We discovered seeds inside!! We wonder what would happen if we planted the seeds . . . We also loved having reading time with our instructors, and read musical rhymes together today. We can't wait to do more exploring, tree climbing, and maybe some painting on Wednesday!
Day 2: Today we became explorers and explored the Community Garden! This is a long hike for us, but we are really great at hiking and moving our bodies!! We checked out the flowers and all the pollinating insects that were moving through the garden. There are so many colors and smells to explore in a garden space like this, and they invite both us and so many animals to celebrate the outdoors.
To celebrate our explorer abilities, we painted and drew maps. We even used finger paints on big leaves that we collected, and got to see what the paint would do on the leaf. We could feel the texture of the leaf more as we painted, and see the veins and all the lines of the leaf. The veins of the leaf are a lot like the lines we see on our maps!
We also really enjoyed some reading time together. Today we read one of our favorites: Goodnight, Gorilla.
Day 3: What fun we had on our last day of camp! We went out to the sand and climbing tree first, to dig and build in the sand. We continued being explorers, and grabbed a map on the way out. We explored under logs and found centipedes, millipedes, and snails- while some of us ran up and down the trail to see how fast we could go!
Since it was the perfect day to explore the creek, we headed up to a spot near the bridge on Rickenbacker and got our toes wet! We loved finding smooth rocks, and finding secret trails to the creek. We even played a lot of pretend games, and imagined that there was a monster coming out of the drain pipe that we had to stop! We put some sticks and leaves near the opening to see if we could keep it from getting out!!
Week 10: July 30, August 1, 3
Day 1: We loved playing in the sand, inside and outside!! Dumping sand out of cups, and filling the cups was one of our favorite things. Some of us built our own lego planes and then we even began to draw a forest for them to travel through on a big piece of paper we laid out on a table. We spent the first part of our time outside playing in our Children's Garden. Some of us read with Jean, our wonderful adult volunteer! Some of us used chalk that our instructor, Maylee, brought outside to draw on trees and other surfaces. We noticed that it drew differently on the tree bark than it drew on the rock wall, or the steel containers. We also loved drumming on the steel containers, either with a stick or our hands! We finished up our snack while in the garden, before heading out to the woods. Sand was such an important part of our day today, and we immediately wanted to play in the sand in our woods. We dug holes, made circles in the sand with sticks, built castles and volcanoes!! Our volcano began to erupt, and we had to figure out ways to save things from the lava. We found sticks and leaves and plugged the hole in the top of the volcano to stop it!!
We knew today was the perfect day to visit the creek, so we headed there for the last part of our day. We dipped our toes in the water, and some of us played with our friends and siblings in the Great Blue Herons camp . The Great Blue Herons even showed some of us their secret passage, and helped us crawl under the tree limbs and over the roots to navigate the passage!! We were all happily exhausted at the end of our day, and ready to eat a quiet lunch outside on the porch before pick-up!
Today we were really into seeing and hearing frogs! Since the weather looked wet, we decided to go on a frog hunt!! It is perfect weather for amphibians, and we enjoyed pretending to be frogs ourselves. We could imagine how they moved, what they ate, where they might hide or find food, and so many more things when we become an animal. It builds our appreciation of how animals live in the world.
Since it was raining, we decided to make mud in our Children's Garden. We filled our big steel buckets with garden soil, added hose water and rain water, and had a blast playing in the mud and the water!! Between the rain and the hose, we got soaking wet and it felt great!! Once we got inside, we changed into our dry and warm clothes and had a nice lunch together.
Today we played in the sand and hunted for animals!! We see squirrels, chipmunks, birds, dragonflies, and crickets in our woods on most camp days. Sometimes, we find the tracks of deer!
We also played in our hose water today. It was a great way to cool off and enjoy the water, since we couldn't go in our creek because of the rain earlier in the week. We enjoyed painting, and the feel of paint on paper and our hands when we made turtles and rain clouds!
Week 11: August 6, 8, 10
Day 1: On our first day of camp, we discovered that our group loves to make maps! WE drew our very own maps inside, and made up our own keys. Some of us drew fig trees, represented by green dots, on our maps. An apple tree was represented by green lines and red dots. And just apples were red dots only!! We also looked at the big map of the Preserve inside our classroom and began to point out where we were, and where we wanted to go. One of the campers even knew what the symbol for the bus stops was, and pointed to all the places we could find a bus stop!!
Once outside with our maps, we explored and played in the sand and at Nancy Creek. The big kids in Great Blue Herons came and joined us and helped us skip rocks, walk through the shallow ankle-depth water, and look for fish and other animals. We loved the cool water on our feet, and all the shade provided by the trees in the forest! It may have been hot in the sunshine, but in the woods we felt so cool and happy that we stayed outside all morning long!!
Day 2: This morning, we had so much fun playing in the Children's Garden with the Great Blue Herons camp! They were digging for worms and searching for insects, and we joined in! We also got books out from the Little Free Library and read them with each other.
Once we got on our Woodland Loop Trail, we collected acorns and hickory nuts! We imagined that squirrels threw them down from the trees, just for us! We walked so far today- all the way across the bridge on Rickenbacker Rd. and to an entrance to Nancy Creek that is on the other side of the trail. The cool, shallow water was great for floating and sinking objects in. We found out that the little tree cookies from our classroom could float, and that most of the rocks we found sank- or made giant splashes! We also drew with chalk on the concrete wall near the bridge, and on rocks and the tree cookies. One of the coolest things was finding a tiny catfish hiding in a partially submerged cinder block!
Day 3: We went on a very looong walk today! On the last day of camp for the entire summer, we wanted to see as much of Blue Heron as our legs could handle. We saw so many animals along the way- and noticed how many leaves and limbs had fallen overnight from the rain! We saw turtles, butterflies, dragonflies, damselflies, and heard so many birds singing in the woods! The more we hear and see these animals, the easier it is for us to pretend to be them. We can move our bodies like a butterfly, and pretend we are flying to far away places- or licking the nectar out of a beautiful flower. And as we pretend to be these animals, and live the life they are living, we begin to learn to feel for the animals and think about ways we can help them!