As the school year comes to an end, so does our work on our school nature trail. The weather finally cooperated enough so that we could really get outside and create the nature trail! Our sixth grade students spent many class periods outside planning, clearing, raking, moving brush, and learning about the woods around our school. The created trail is one that is accessible to anyone who is able to walk, and is filled with informational signs, things to discover/scavenger hunts, and areas to sit and enjoy the beauty of the woods of Maine.
While the main purpose of this endeavor was to create a learning walk/nature trail, the students learned and practiced many other skills in the process:
Teamwork. Deciding who will do what, and how to take turns. Working together to move a fallen tree, and the many branches and leaves.
Problem Solving. Determining where is the best path to go? How do we fix a muddy area? Where should we make a sitting spot?
Research. What type of tree is this?? What information would people visiting like to learn?
Perseverance. Working even when tired, or the bugs are “eating us alive.”
Budgeting. How many signs can we afford? Do we have enough money for____?
Finding the joy in the woods around us. How did this white fuzzy cotton get here? I wonder why this vine looks this way. Can we swing on it? Running down the trail. Building a Fairy House. “I bet we could build a fourth right here.” Sitting to read, and so many more.
Students working on a variety of Projects:
Fairy house building,
Researching tree types,
Putting down wood chips,
Finished birdhouse on a tree.
Students were excited to see their work create a product that others can enjoy!
As we neared the “end” of the projects, students reflected on their favorite part of creating the trail. Here are a few quotes:
- “I liked the hands-on part of the project, being outside and working out budgets and what goes where. I also enjoyed knowing that I was actually doing something, not just writing on a paper, knowing that this trail is actually a thing other people can experience is very satisfying.”
- “Making the bridge that goes over the mud puddle because we got to break sticks and laugh from failing at breaking some.”
- “The scavenger hunts because they actually get you looking around and when you are looking for different things you see a lot of sights.”
- “My favorite part of working on the nature trail was going outside and lining the trail with the sticks and then raking the path, because it was fun to practice teamwork.”
The hands-on and creation of a projected encouraged and inspired students to put their learning to the test. We could not thank the Natural Resources Council of Maine (NRCM) enough for giving us the support to start this project—one that has been needed for years!
The “finished” project is one that is never really finished, but ready to be added on to in the years to come. Our hope is that next year’s sixth graders will add to the trails learning components, and that other classes and families will use the trail to discover an appreciation for the natural world around us.
~Rob Ripley (teacher), and the Harrison Elementary School students, 2019
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