Nature Table for March

Nature Table for March

Every month, Hilltown Families features a new nature table whose contents inspire learning along a common theme easily spotted in our surroundings that month. A tradition carried out by teachers, environmental educators, and nature-curious families, nature tables bring a little bit of the outdoors inside for inspection, dissection, identification, creative play, art projects, and lots of other educational activities. The idea behind a nature table is to help open up children’s eyes to the unique attributes of each season, and to help them learn how to see these things in nature for themselves. A nature table can include a variety of items, and is often accompanied by a set of books and/or field guides so that children can take part in further learning at their own will.

As late winter and very early spring begin to overlap here in the Hilltowns, the landscape begins to change. Snowy banks and icy walkways are melting into gigantic muddy puddles all over town, and the trees are filled with the joyful cries of birds who’ve returned to perch amongst the tiniest of early leaf buds. This month’s nature table in my classroom reflects all of this: the lengthening of days and the coming of warmer weather, the sudden influx of feathered friends, the buds that are beginning to lengthen on branch tips, and the very few bits of green found amongst a sea of still-sleepy brown.

In addition to objects that reflect the changes taking place outside, the children in my class have added some items to the table that pair with some of the late winter activities we’ve been doing. We have tapped a single maple tree – old school style, with a metal spout and bucket – so our table includes new buds and last year’s leaves from our tree. We’ve also spent an awful lot of time feeding and conversing with the birds in the schoolyard, so we added a feather that we found in the woods, the bird call we’ve been summoning them with, and a homemade cardboard bird feeder that a squirrel took a big bite out of.

On our table this month, students find:

  • maple branches, one with leaves and one with buds
  • one bitten bird feeder
  • one gray and black striped feather
  • one chunk of a hemlock branch, formerly a snowman’s elbow
  • a few non-maple bud-holding twigs
  • green bits of some kind of prickly bush
  • a bird call
  • our wooden friend, Mr. Mouse

Robin Huntley: March Nature Table

We’ll continue to expand our collection of bud-covered branches and green things as the weather warms, as well as some treasures from the fall that become exposed by the disappearance of snow. As the birds flock back to the schoolyard, we’ll watch carefully to identify details in color, size, and shape – working together to learn the names of the birds who live near us. In the meantime, we’ll inspect and identify our specimens, make comparisons between them, and continue to spark curiosity and deepen our understanding of this time of year.

Supporting our studies this month are the following titles:

Related Post: Nature Table for February


Robin Morgan Huntley, Intern
A native to Maine, Robin joined Hilltown Families in early 2011. She is a graduate of Antioch University with a masters in education. Her interests within the field of education include policy and all types of nontraditional education. For her undergraduate project at Hampshire College, Robin researched the importance of connecting public schools with their surrounding communities, especially in rural areas. Robin lives in Shelburne Falls, MA.

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