Thursday, June 18, 2015

Class Trip to Red Wolf Retreat

We couldn't have ordered better weather for our class trip last week! The occasional cloud cover discouraged sunburns and the breeze kept the bugs away. In keeping with our mantra of "take learning outside", we visited Red Wolf Retreat with our JK/SK class. With an army of parents to help us keep track of everyone, we boarded the bus with excitement. Many of the children are brought to school by parents or are picked up by small vans, so the experience of getting a ride on the BIG YELLOW BUS was a good start to the day!

Upon our arrival, we visited the herd of goats that live at Red Wolf Retreat. The children were allowed to pet a small kid and marvelled at the size of the billy goat. We learned about predators in the area and how the owners protect the goats.

Next we headed to a small pond where the small trout live, and enjoyed watching Bill (our host) feeding the fish. The water "boiled" with splashing fish as they vied for food. Many of the children got splashed in the face which caused lots of giggling! The children got a close look at a beautiful speckled trout when Bill fished it out of the pond in a net. We learned about what fish need to live, and about how Bill and his family keep them and their environment healthy.

We wandered down a path to the lake where we would catch our own trout. The children took turns using the fishing rods, and it didn't take long for them to get lots of bites! The incredulous looks on their faces was worth the trip as they proudly showed off their catch! Every child got to practise their patience and eventually, everyone caught a fish. They were taken to be cleaned and bagged, so we went to have our lunch.

A basketball net, soccer ball, and old canoe kept everyone entertained while we ate, then it was time to catch some pond creatures. The children were given nets and instructions about not touching frogs or turtles with their bare hands (because of the possibility of salmonella and other bacteria). We spied a nest in some cattails, containing four red-winged blackbird chicks. Mama and Papa Bird were not thrilled at our presence, so we tried to give them adequate space.

As the children scooped their nets through the water they brought their catches back to Bill for identification. He placed them in a shallow tub of water so everyone could observe the many kids of critters that live in pond. They got to see tadpoles in various forms of metamorphosis, and heard the frogs singing. Dragonfly nymphs, caddisfly cases, a water strider, and so many other creatures gathered in the tub as the children excitedly gathered around.

Another tub contained some little minnows. The children were allowed to gently scoop them up in their hands to feel them wiggling. This kind of hands-on experience is so rich for small children.

If you live in the Eganville area, I highly recommend a school trip to Red Wolf Retreat! Respect for living things and the natural world as well as a safety around water were focuses of the day, and everything was very well organized. The children LOVED catching a fish and proudly brought their trout home to share with their families for dinner. Everyone found something to enjoy on our trip and everyone was well tuckered out on the drive home!