We ended up going on two homeschool field trips last week. First to Deck Family Farm on Thursday, and then to Honeyman State Park in Florence on Friday. I usually don’t schedule us quite so much, but both field trips looked so wonderful and I felt that Bracken would love them (he did), so I made an exception. A friend had called and told me about the field trip to Honeyman State Park and her description of it made me mark it on the calendar straightaway.
There were three stations that day. In the first station, we went to the lake with nets to see macroinvertabrate life. The park ranger helped us identify everything we saw and then the kids were able to look at them under microscopes. (Bracken had decorated his hat with daisies that day, as you can see in some of the pictures.) I think the favorite finds were tadpoles and newts. We also saw a bird flying over with some nesting material, which was really cool.
In the second station, a friend of mine took the children on a plant walk, teaching them about the native plants in the area and which ones were edible or not. We collected some spruce tips (just like we did on our homeschool field trip to Whiskey Creek Organics last spring), which are a great source of Vitamin C. We learned to tell the difference between dandelion and cat’s ear. We saw bracken ferns (not edible.) We saw rhododendron in bloom (poisonous), and huckleberry and salal (both edible.) I learned that the sweet little yellow flower I fell in love with in the woods over the winter is called a wood violet, and is edible.
After our plant walk, we had a picnic by the lake and enjoyed the sunshine that was a surprise that day. The third station was all about slugs. We learned about slugs and then we had a banana slug race. Each team enticed their slug out of the circle with food they like to eat- mushrooms (the favorite), bananas, and pears. (The clock was set for 3 minutes and the slug the farthest from the inner circle was the winner.) It was quite comical and a memorable experience for the kids. I mean, how often do you get to participate in a slug race?
I had wanted to do something with Bracken for Earth Day (Friday) this year and saw that SOLVE (the same group I joined for the spring beach clean up) had activities all over Oregon on Saturday. One of the events was at Honeyman State Park, where they wanted volunteers to help plant native plants all around the historic Cleawox Lodge and I would have loved to be involved, but knew we had market that day in Eugene.
As it turned out, though, after the three stations were finished on our field trip on Friday, families were invited to stay later if they wanted to help plant native plants. Basically, to start the project they would have going the following day. I was so glad that it worked out like that, we were able to participate in the planting after all. Planting native plants was the perfect way to celebrate Earth Day, as were slug races, microinvertibrate identification, and a plant walk. When kids learn to love the earth and it’s creatures, that’s what will inspire them to care for it for future generations.
Thanks to everyone who helped make this event happen for all those kids that day!