Wesselman Woods Nature Preserve

Wesselman Woods Nature Preserve

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Habitats Play Mat

When I saw this idea from one of the master naturalists who works with the nature center, I took a bunch of pictures and had to make one of my own.  It is a simple project to help little ones learn who lives where in nature. 

The play mat is made of felt.  It is simply what leftover from other projects.  I sewed the scene onto the large piece of green felt including the sky with clouds, a pond and shore, and a large tree as part of the forest.

The rest is up to the kids.  The images are all pre-painted wood pieces from various crafts stores.  We enjoy checking out the selection in any store we are in and add to our menagerie. 

The forest section includes additional trees, a bear, an owl and bird in the sky. 

The prairie portion has a flower, insects and a bunny. 

The wetlands include a duck, fish, salamander and turtle. 

The woman who gave me the idea actually had the outlines of each piece Sharpied onto the play mat more like a puzzle, but I wanted to leave it a little more creative by allowing the kids to decide where things should go. 

When we are finished, all the pieces go into the large pocket on the back

And the entire mat tri-folds closed and is easily stored.  It is held closed with a simple button and elastic system. 

It is a really fun piece we enjoy at home and with our friends at nature class and preschool. 

Storytime Katie is hosting this week's Flannel Friday.  Visit the Flannel Friday blog for more information on our group.

Friday, September 21, 2012


Fly Butterflies, Fly!  We had a blast learning about caterpillars and butterflies!  There are so many fun things to do with butterflies it was hard to choose, but these are the ones we did.

First we learned the basics of butterflies including their lifecycles from egg to caterpillars to chrysalis to butterfly.  I used the images provided by Preschool Post to illustrate the stages for the kids. 

The kids got to see a simulation of the last stage (chrysalis to butterfly) first-hand with my tissue paper chrysalis and Folkmanis monarchbutterfly finger puppet .  I got the idea from Classic Play.   It took a week’s prep leaving dry time between each coat of tissue and Modge Podge, but I was well worth it when I saw the look of wonder and amazement on those kids’ faces when they tore open the chrysalis and a butterfly came out!  It still gives me goose bumps!    

Next we practiced being butterflies with our new friend using dancing scarves and dancing to “Butterfly” on Mary Jo Huff’s Chicken Fun CD.  Mary Jo is from our town and if you haven’t had the pleasure of her various CDs and DVDs, please check her out.  She is just wonderful!

Next we read “TenLittle Caterpillars” Bill Martin Jr. (Author), Lois Ehlert (Illustrator).  Eric Carle’s “Very Hungry Caterpillar” would have also been good, but I think most kids have read that one and I wanted to introduce them to a different one.  The kids loved it.

Finally I ended with a flannel board rhyme I discovered (and copied!) from Flannel Friday friend Miss. Mary at Miss Mary Liberry .  The rhyme can be found in “StorytimeMagic: 400 Fingerplays, Flannelboards, and Other Activities”  by Kathy Macmillan and Christine Kirker.  

I love it because it moves through caterpillars (I used a die cut for the shapes) ...

to chrysalis (I copied the shape from Miss. Mary) ...

and butterflies (I got them from Michael’s end-of-summer clearance).  

After they were done with their craft, the kids were invited to act out the stages of a butterfly’s life using a small white sheet (for the egg stage); striped sheet (for the caterpillar); green sheet for the chrysalis stage and butterfly wings.  The kids took turns being each stage by wrapping themselves in a sheet and acting it out.  We had quite a few butterflies flying around by morning’s end!
Sharon at Rain Makes Applesauce is hosting Flannel Friday this week. Stop by and check out more great flannel fun! 
Sources:  http://www.preschool-plan-it.com/caterpillars-and-butterflies.html

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

New "Trails & Tales" Program to Start in October

Toddler Tales in its current format will be discontinued as of Sept 1st.

Toddler Tales will be revamped and launched in October as Trails & Tales, a seasonal 6-week series for children ages 2-5. The program will be redesigned to incorporate more outdoor experiences, more hands-on interaction with nature and natural items, and more diverse activities, all revolving around a seasonal theme for the duration of each series.  Children will play & learn through indoor and outdoor exploratory activities and physical movements that will include stories, songs, games, art projects and hands-on investigations.

Trails & Tales will be conducted as a six week series. Pre-enrollment is required and space is limited to 20 children per class. Each series is $15 per child for WNS Members, or $20 per child for non-members. 

Trails & Tales will be offered for a single day in between each series for families who wish to sample it before enrolling in a series. Pre-enrollment is NOT required for single day sessions, but space is limited to the first 20 children who sign in.

Trails & Tales Single Day Samplers
September 19 or 21, 10 – 11 a.m.  AND
December 12 or 14, 10 – 11 a.m.

Trails & Tales Fall Series “Feathered Friends”
Wednesdays Oct. 10 – Nov. 14, 10 – 11 a.m.  OR  
Fridays Oct. 12 - Nov. 16, 10 – 11 a.m.

For more information or to register your child, please call Gena Garrett at 812 479-0771 ext 103.