September’s Littlest Learners Nature Notes

We were welcomed into this new school year with warm sunny days, a harvest moon full of abundance, and new friends eager to explore the school. The first couple of weeks felt like summer. It was warm, plants and crops were abundant, and life was buzzing all around campus. The garden was full of delicious vegetables, bright flowers, and insects munching on the crops. Friends around campus could explore the garden, and, if they were lucky, harvest a few tasty snacks. The rain came and stayed for a bit. The plants thoroughly enjoyed it as well as the students. When the rain comes, it offers lots of imaginative play! Splashing in puddles, making creations with mud, and working in the creek are just a few favorite rainy-day activities.

When the rain resided, not only did the sun come back out, but the insects and wildlife too. A favorite sound of the littlest learners is hearing the wings of a hummingbird. You can almost always hear them before you see them! It almost seemed like we were seeing hummingbirds every day! They enjoy the nectar from the jewelweed, which is growing all around our schoolyard. Jewelweed is a favorite plant on the farmstead. Not only is it beautiful, and provides food for pollinators and hummingbirds, but it also has amazing medicinal value. A fun thing the kids love doing is spotting large seed pots on the jewelweed and giving them a slight touch or squeeze. What happens next? A burst of seeds everywhere! It brings a lot of joy, and they just so happen to be reseeding them!

As we saw less and less monarchs landing on our milkweed growing around the farmstead, we noticed a new insect was enjoying its seed pods. Milkweed bugs, Oncopeltus fasciatus, were using their long proboscis to pierce the seeds, stems, and leaves of the milkweed plant to feed. They can be considered a nuisance insect, but do not actually harm the plant. We found out the only nuisance they truly cause is the potential of crowding out monarch butterflies from landing on the milkweed.

By the third week of school, the weather was starting to change. It seemed like the mosquitoes could tell it would be cold soon. It felt like we were battling mosquitoes more than usual. Everyone was looking out for each other and informing friends when mosquitoes landed. The wind started to pick up, and the weather temperature began to drop. Layers of clothes were added, and even gloves started making an appearance. We noticed fewer insects around campus, including those pesky mosquitos. We have not seen a hummingbird in almost a week! The leaves have begun to change from vibrant green to golden yellow, different shades of brown, and vibrant red! Leaves are starting to fall, creating many imaginative play options. When the wind blows, and the leaves fall, it is almost as if it is raining leaves! Trying to catch leaves that are falling is such a magical feeling! We have made pizzas using different colored leaves to represent crust, sauce, cheese, and herbs. When learning about decomposers, we searched in leaf piles to find insects breaking down the leaves into soil. We also got to welcome fall by celebrating the Fall equinox! Using yarn to decorate pumpkins sitting in our classroom platform reminds us of such a fun day.

The littlest learners are excited about the changing seasons and to see what happens as we get further into fall. What other things will we notice and learn? How long until all of the leaves change? When will all of the trees lose their leaves? We are paying attention and coexisting with nature in our classroom. The littlest learners are experiencing and learning new things each day! We can’t wait to share more things next month! Happy Fall!

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