Sunday, July 13, 2014

Learning at the WNC Nature Center

     The Western North Carolina Nature Center is an excellent place to learn about animals and plants native to the southern Appalachian region.  Even though Amelie and Liam are young, there were so many hands-on opportunities and activities that allowed them to engage with what was being presented to them.  One of the best learning experiences was Amelie earning her "Wild Child" patch.  Guests can check out a pack filled with gear to explore the grounds for free.  Amelie was at the young end of the spectrum for who the pack was designed for, but as a science teacher I loved this idea.  She was given an activity packet in which she had to choose 3 activities in order to earn the patch.  The activities varied from measuring soil temperature, bird watching, measuring the circumference of trees, scavenger hunts, and more.  The tools inside the pack included binocular, looking glass, ruler, butterfly net, plant and animal identification book, colored pencils, and so much more.  She chose to do the scavenger hunt in which she had to look at a picture and determine what it was, and then check it off once she found the animal in the center.  For instance, the picture would be of a tail of a deer.  She had to determine it was a deer tail and then once we saw the deer, she would check it off.  The other activity she chose to do was measure the circumference of her head and then find a tree that was close to the same circumference.  She then had to identify the tree using her guide book.  Bobby is so great at asking her good questions and helping her without giving her the answers or doing it for her.  I love seeing her wheels churning as she processes and is challenged to learn and do new things.  The last activity she chose was to draw an insect doing an activity.  She chose to draw an ant carrying it's eggs.  After this fun experience, I told Bobby that I wanted us to make a pack with all the fun measurement tools for the kids to have. ;)  Such a great idea!!
Amelie and Liam searching for the snake.  We were able to learn about the snake that we saw while hiking as well.  Liam then told anyone who came looking at the specific snake that we saw one just like it while hiking.  He made sure that they knew it did not bite us.
Hellbender, a giant salamander 
Checking out a skunk.
Amelie humoring Liam with a puppet show.
Amelie and Liam now humoring Bobby and I with a show.  I love how silly and imaginative they are!

Amelie working on her activities to earn her Wild Child badge.

Whew, it's not real!  Gave them quite a scare when they rounded the corner!

     We had so much fun that we had to go back another day.  We had a little more time and brought a picnic lunch so we were able to leisurely walk through the center.  One of the areas that the kids enjoyed hanging out in was the farm area.  They brushed the sheep and goats for a while.  They also loved pretending they were farmers and using the farmers tools.  I enjoyed sitting in the shade for a while and watched them work.

Preparing the ground for planting.  Amelie enjoys leading and instructing.  She gave specific jobs for Liam to do and he happily complied.
Planting the seeds in neat rows.
They planted and harvested many times.
Harvesting the vegetable.  I loved seeing their teamwork. 
    We also enjoyed learning about otters.  We were able to see the otters being fed on both occasions.  We learned about the specific otters living at the Nature Center as well as otters in general.  We were able to see what otters like to eat (fish) up close and talk with the caretaker of the otters.  The kids would tell you the best part was sliding down the slide and playing just like the otters like to play.

     The spider playground, cave experience, and turtle pond were also a lot of fun.  Throughout our visit we marveled at the uniqueness of each animal. Observing details like red eyed turtles are males and yellow eyed turtles are females point to a Creator who is imaginative and into the details.  I hope Amelie and Liam continue to enjoy learning about the complexities of this world and its amazing Creator!

No comments: