Archive for November 5th, 2013

November 5, 2013

Little Sprouts Love Their Garden Critters!

by Melissa Harding


We just finished our latest four-week Little Sprouts program, We Heart Critters, and we had so much fun! Campers how gardens grow and what friendly critters make their home among the plants and soil.  Campers sang songs, played games and read stories to help them understand the plants and animals that live in the garden.

Week one focused on what a garden is and how it grows. Campers learned we grow different kinds of plants in the garden – some to eat and some to look at. They also learned that plants love sunshine and use their leaves to catch it to make food. Campers and grown-ups explored the outdoor garden to look for critters using a scavenger hunt. When they came back to the classroom, they found that several mystery animals had left their track on the floor! Campers explored the tracks, walking like animals and guessing who has visited the classroom while they were gone. Finally, campers planted grass heads, which are nylon knee-high stockings filled with soil and grass seeds, and decorated recycled yogurt containers to put them in. The first week, they don’t look like much, but after four weeks they are covered in green “hair”.


Week two explored the animals that fly to the garden: birds, butterflies and bees! Campers made cereal bird feeders to help feed their feathered friends at home (and maybe a squirrel or two!) and learned how important these flying friends are to the plants in the garden, helping to pollinate flowers and spread seeds. Campers took a listening tour of the outdoor gardens  using special “listening helpers” to give them better hearing. We didn’t hear too many birds, but we did hear quite a few frogs and chipmunks.

Week three focused on those critters that hop or crawl to the garden. Campers made hand-print spiders for their craft and talked about why spiders are really important. They also learned that turtles and frogs love the garden as much as bigger animals do and that water is important for both plants and animals in the garden. Campers explored the Conservatory for critters and potted some lettuce to take home for their own garden friends to enjoy.

Week four focused on creepy crawly critters – those that live in the soil. Campers played a matching game, matching insect body parts to their owners – they found butterfly wings, snail shells and legs to glue onto cardboard animals.  Campers learned that soil is important for both plants and animals; they explored worms from the compost bin and talked about why some critters are slimy. Finally, they took home their grass heads, many of which had grown a full head of green hair!

Check out more images in the slideshow below!

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If you want to read some great stories about garden critters with your own Little Sprout, check out these books:
Who’s Been Here by Lindsay Barrett George
Big Tracks, Little Tracks by Millicent Selsam
Little Green by Keith Baker
Make Way for Ducklings by Robert McCloskey
Riki’s Birdhouse by Monica Wellington
Turtle Splash! Countdown at the Pond by Cathryn Falwell
An Extraordinary Egg by Leo Lionni
One Tiny Turtle by Nicola Davies and Jane Chapman

Our next Little Sprouts: Single Servings program, Our Desert Adventure, is scheduled for November 21 and 22, 10:30 am-noon. If you would like to sign up your child for a future Little Sprouts program, please contact Sarah at (412)441-4442 ext. 3925.

For a complete list of all our seasonal camp, offerings, please visit our website. We hope to see you there!

The above photos were taken by Science Education Staff and photo intern Lisa Xu.


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