Week 1 – Tree of Life
We hit the ground running in week 1 with a bunch of new and returning campers and an awesome camp staff! We all had a great time getting to know each other and we enjoyed a variety of summer weather, from super hot days to wet and rainy days. Our campers took great care of the animals, and everyone who wanted to was able to enjoy a farm fresh egg from our new flock!
Visits with the animals are usually on the top of everyone’s list, but this week we were graced with some children who were really into working in the gardens! Our older crew took to the fields and cleared hundreds of potato beetles and also hammered steaks and trellised the peas and tomatoes!
We started our week with a study of classification, and the children were asked to classify an assortment of objects in any way they chose. The differences in their classification techniques (living vs non-living, man-made vs natural, food vs non-food) were a great jumping off point to explain the tree of life, and the classification of the diversity we see throughout all life on the planet. We also made some beautiful tree art! We continued on day 2 with an exploration of the fungi branch and a mushroom walk, followed by some very unsuccessful spore prints due to the dry weather, but still lots of fun!
Days 3 & 4 continued with the plant and animal kingdoms, and we discussed vascular vs nonvascular plants and read a story about binomial nomenclature and plant naming conventions. Our older group made their own plants from latin words, and our younger group wrote their names with vascular plants, while they thought about things they might like to name plants after. We explored the different classes of animals through our reading of the Story of the Coming of Life (also known as the Second Great Lesson in Montessori curriculum.) We had some fun experimenting with camouflage and the children enjoyed hearing about the progression of life from the sea to land to the sky, wrapping up with hominids taking up a very small spot near the end (or the beginning!) of the timeline of life.
Day 5 was a favorite (for me!) as we discussed bacteria and protists and why we should be thankful for cyanobacteria! We took a look at the blue green algae on the beginning of our timeline, talked about how many millions of years it took for the air to change, and what a big role photosynthesis had in the beginning of life on earth. Afterward, we took a walk to our new pond to see what other kinds of protists we could find and see under the microscope. We had a blast exploring and pulling stuff out of the pond with nets. The duckweed yielded lots of great microscopic finds! See if you can find the pond protist in the picture below!
It was a great first week and the children brought such life back to the farm! We love this time of year, and are so happy we are off to a great start. Thanks for sharing your wonderful children with us. We hope to see you all again soon!
~Jazmine, Julia, Micaela, Fina, and Lucy