A young student's first visit to River Bend is a very special one. Everything is new -- the Turtle Pond, the river, the Big Woods, the prairie -- and around every corner a new discovery awaits! During this visit the students will use their senses to explore the Fall season at River Bend, especially a special spot that they can "watch" all year to witness nature's change of seasons for themselves. They will also visit some of River Bend's most popular sites, recognize the importance of non-living things in nature, learn the ways we all stay safe and respectful on the trail, and gain confidence in their ability to learn in a 'wild' outdoor setting.
This unit is specifically designed to meet appropriate AAAS Project 2061 benchmarks as well as address Kindergarten Minnesota Academic proposed Science Standards 0.1.1.2.1; 0.1.3.1.1; 0.3.2.2.1; 0.4.1.1.1; 0.4.1.1.2; 0.4.2.1.1; 0.4.2.1.2. Please email us for more information.
Before your visit, please review with your students:
- The five senses;
- The four seasons;
- A photo tour, either the one below or the full tour; and,
- Behavior expectations.
At River Bend:
- During the introduction we will review the above material and put together a fall tree picture.
- We will divide each class in half for a maximum of 4 groups assuming normal size classes. Please note: if your class will be making return trips in the same year, remember which students were in each group. Groups and class pairs should stay the same each season.
- Each group will proceed onto the trails where they will use their senses to explore River Bend's various destinations, including a special kinderspot to be revisited by the same group each season and a visit to Turtle Pond.
- The students may participate in a mini-game or activity of the leader's choice.
In closing we will:
- Inquire about discoveries on the trail
- Encourage continued sensory exploration of the natural world
- Remind the students of their next visit
- Talk of upcoming events at River Bend
- Invite the students to return on their own with family and friends.
Back in the classroom:
- Have students record their observations with an art piece depicting the kinderspot they just visited to compare with subsequent visits and observe change over time.
- Encourage the students to share their experiences, especially their kinderspots, through words or art.
- Monitor this web page for the kinderspot photo updates posted each month. Print and post the photos so the students can monitor their kinderspot between visits.
- Select a kinderspot of your own near the school to observe as well; submit photos back to River Bend for posting.
People have five senses that can be used to explore the world around them. We call them our "tools." We can use these to learn about nature.
- Our eyes to see - We can use our eyes to see color, shape, movement, size
- Our ears to hear - We can use our ears to hear bird songs, animal noises (frogs, squirrels, insects, etc.) leaves crunching under our feet, wind in the trees.
- Our nose to smell - We can use our noses to smell things. Everything has its own smell, including flowers, seeds, leaves, dirt, wood, and skunks.
- Our hands to touch - We can touch with our hands, but also with our cheeks, elbows, feet, noses, etc. Some things feel soft, smooth, hard, or prickly.
- Our tongue to taste - We can use our mouths to taste things that an adult says is safe to taste. Some things taste good, such as berries and fruits. Others may not taste good to us, such as tree bark.
Everything that lives will eventually die, but there are also many things in nature that are never alive but are still very important. We will spend time on this during the spring visit.
- Air: for plant and animals to breathe, also to carry flying animals, seeds, dirt, sand, and other things to new places.
- Water: for plants and animals to drink, also to carry swimming animals, floating plants, small rocks, sand, mud and other things to new places.
- Sunlight: provides warmth and energy for things to grow; heat and cold can break up rocks and other materials into smaller pieces.
- Rocks: Help provide homes for animals and smaller pieces help plants and animals to grow.
- The more quietly you go, the more you will see and hear.
- Wear a name tag to help us get to know you.
- Listen to your leader or whomever's turn it is to talk.
- Raise your hand if you have something to say.
- Leave things growing unless your leader says you can pick something.
- Stay with your group.
- Nature needs all that is here - what lives here, grows here, dies here, stays here.
- Be nice to nature - and to each other!
Teachers: submit photos of your own to be posted here by emailing them to us. Graphics files only, please.
Along with monitoring the area above for seasonal photos and other ideas described above, here are a few more suggestions. If you have ideas we should add to this list, please email them to us!
- Have your students take a "blind walk." Partners take turns blindfolding each other and leading them to different areas to explore without the use of sight. Or, put a blindfold on every student and lead them through different areas as they hold onto a rope. In either case, ask the students to relate what they experienced.
- Make "feely bags" by placing various objects in a bag or box. Have the students reach their hand in and by their sense of touch try and figure out what it is. Can also be done as "smelly bags."
- If desired, ask your school librarian for related resource materials. The following materials are recommended:
- Is it Alive?
- The Four Seasons
- See, Hear, Touch, Smell