Nature Table for June

“June Is Bustin’ Out All Over”

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.

Our recent weather is unmistakably that of early June – thunderstorms have filled our small West County valley with thick, muggy air and heavy, low-hanging fog that hides the tops of hills. The landscape is so green we have to squint sometimes, and the darkest bits of nature are lost amongst all of the light. It’s obvious that June is going to be good to us – wild strawberries are starting to bloom, the summer’s first mushrooms are starting to pop up, our school garden is fully planted, and the frogs have been plentiful and easy to catch. June’s nature table will be our last of the school year, but not my last for the summer. I’ll continue to collect items all summer long, saving, storing, and preserving what I can to share with my fellow nature enthusiasts in the fall.

This month, we’ve been finding more living treasures than ever. Cries of, “I found a creature!” rise from the ground constantly, pulling us all towards a small pair of hands gently cradling a cricket or a pill bug. Our nature table is slowly beginning to reflect our obsession with things that live, breath, and crawl on us, and we’ve thrown in some other creature-related items, too, in order to inspire us to look more closely around us for signs of creatures that we’ve yet to spot in the flesh. We acquired some small plastic bug boxes for capturing (temporarily) and magnifying, and in getting up-close-and-personal with creatures of all kinds, we’re learning a lot about anatomy, identification, using care, and conquering our fears of small things that crawl.

Our June nature table contains:

  • robin’s nest
  • mushroom spore prints (that we made!)
  • nose-shaped white mushrooms
  • spider’s exoskeleton
  • one fungus-covered maple leaf
  • two halves of a rock
  • one small snail shell
  • red velvet mite (we thought it was a tick)
  • deer antlers and partial skull
  • our ever-growing collection of half-munched walnut shells

Next to our nature table, our tadpoles continue to grow. We released a few when they began growing larger, since there were simply too many in such a small tank. They have yet to show any signs of sprouting legs, but they’ve eaten far more romaine lettuce than any of us expected! They’re even big enough now for us to see their tiny little mouths while they munch.

In our book bin, we’ve been flipping through these books:

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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