Madison schools are on spring break this week. Enjoy the sunshine, and be sure to check the blog next week!
Did you know we have an apple orchard at Crestwood?! Thanks to the work of volunteers Peter Plane (retired 4/5 teacher) and Eldon Ulrich (UW research and former Crestwood parent) and a generous grant from Lowe's, Crestwood students planted two dozen apple trees on school grounds.
We may think of trees as strong, sturdy, and long-lived, a part of nature that anchors us to a place - think of all the idioms in our language having to do with putting down roots or being rooted to the spot, etc. - but the reality is that apple trees, especially young apple trees like the ones in the school orchard, need a lot of TLC. They need protection from hungry rabbits and deer (hence the white tubes around their trunks and soap in socks hanging from the fence acting as repellant). They need to be watered in dry stretches during the summer (hence the drip hoses you see running along the fence line). They need pollinators like bees and butterflies and friendly wasps to carry their pollen from tree to tree (another infusion of grant money will be used for planting flowers to attract pollinators, hopefully this year). They need their blossoms plucked the first few years to send their growing energy to roots and leaves until they are established enough to bear fruit. And every spring, before the buds and blossoms emerge, they need to be pruned.
Who are the caretakers of our orchard? Volunteers, of course, but also the students at Crestwood. The kids who planted these trees in 2013 are in third grade now, and last week every third grade class had a turn going outside to study their trees and clip excess branches.
Kids worked in pairs with clippers and loppers, practicing first on some spare branches and sticks before pruning live trees.
Branches were marked for removal with yellow string, and the kids all had a chance to cut them off as cleanly and carefully as they could. They did amazingly well. You might think it unwise to hand over such strong cutting implements to 8- and 9-year-old kids, but they all took the responsibility very seriously, and the only limbs cut were those of the apple trees. (You may notice that there aren't any photos of the actual pruning...I believe our volunteers had their hands busy and attention taken up with making absolutely sure everyone was being safe!)
When the branches were cut, the kids sat around the picnic table discussed the life cycle of apple blossoms and fruit with Mr. Ulrich and Mr. Plane. When do you see fruit on apple trees? (fall) What has to grow on the tree before the apples? (blossoms) What does a tree need to produce blossoms? (daylight, water, warmth) When do they bloom? (spring)
In fact, Mr. Ulrich said, you can predict approximately when an apple tree will be in full bloom (60-70% buds fully bloomed) by calculating how many days the high temperature tops 43 degrees. For every day and every degree above 43, count that as one "blossom degree", and apple trees generally achieve full bloom at 1,040 blossom degrees, usually in late April. There's always something new to learn outside!
Outside by Eleanor
One day me and my buddy went out to see how much sap we had collected from the day before. You see, yesterday we went outside to tap a maple tree. We got to taste the sap. It was sweet! Anyway, when we went out today and looked in the bucket, we saw almost no sap! On the trail it was super muddy. I almost got stuck! The temperature was 50 degrees Fahrenheit. The bark was rough. Now let me tell you about yesterday…
Yesterday we went to Owen Park. We had to drill a hole in the tree. It was hard work! We had to do it without a power drill! When we finally got the hole in the tree, the spile got lost! Then Megan found it. Hooray! Finally, we started hammering. Now we could see the sap dripping. Almost no sap! We got to taste it. Yum, yum, yummy! Tree tapping is fun.
Sugar Maple Tree by Zoe
We went to Owen Park to tap our tree. We saw holes from yellow-bellied sapsucker woodpeckers. It was sunny. It was 50 degrees Fahrenheit. We drilled. We put the spile in and hammered it in. I hope we get lost of sap for pancakes!
The Maple Tree by Allen
We went to the muddy path. There was snow by our maple tree.
Maple Tree by Mateo
One day we went out to the maple tree. We had to find a perfect spot to drill a hole. And we did. So then the spile got lost. We found it. We put it in the hole. I got to taste the maple sap. It tasted like sugar. Then we waited.
The Maple Tapping by Dalia
We went outside to tap our maple tree. When we went outside, it was sunny and we got mud on our boots. We drilled into the tree. We used a spile. I got to taste some sap and it tasted like sugar. It looks like water. Today we helped Mrs. Herdina’s class measure to see how much sap they have. They have more sap than us. We have a little, tiny bit. It was fun!
Tree Tapping by Maya
One day our class went tree tapping. We put a drill in the tree and sawdust fell out. Then we put the spile in and hammered it down. We put a bucket on the tree and the sap fell out super s-l-o-w-l-y. We got to put our finger under the maple tree bucket. The sap tastes so super sweet. Then we put the lid on the bucket and left it overnight. When we came back the next day, the sap bucket had more sap!
Tree Tapping by Kaidan
First we went out to the maple tree. Then we drilled a hole into the tree. Last we put the bucket on the spile and the sap came out of the tree. The next day it was 50 degrees. There was lots of mud on our boots. It was hard to move because the mud was so sticky. Maya got stuck in the mud and Mateo too. It was fun.
The Happy Maple Tree by Da’Shiya
One day my class went to our maple tree. But that’s not the whole story. We went through a muddy spot. Some of us got stuck in the mud. Then we got to the maple tree. We drilled and tapped the maple tree. Then we put a spile in our hole. Then we tasted the sap. It was good. Then the next day we went with our buddies to the tree. It was very muddy, but we didn’t get that much sap.
Tapping a Maple Tree by Jimmy
We were walking to our maple tree. The trail was muddy. When we got to our maple tree, we first found a spot to get the sap. Next we put the spile in the tree. We hammered the spile. We put the bucket by the spile. A little sap went into it. It was 50 degrees. There were a lot of holes in the tree. A yellow-bellied sapsucker made the holes. I hope we can make maple syrup.
Marvelous Maples by Megan
We walked down to Owen Park. It was sunny. When we got to the woods, the trail got very muddy. Soon we got to our maple tree. We took turns drilling into the tree. When we were done, we hammered the spile in. Then we attached the bucket. While we were waiting, we looked at holes made by yellow-bellied sapsuckers. Then a few drops of sap came out. We all lined up to taste it. It tasted like sugar and water. When we had all tasted it, we went back. We all learned something new!
The next day we went to check on our tree with our buddies. There was not much sap. On the way back we counted our steps. When we went inside we measured our sap. We had ½ ounce.
The next morning, we helped Mrs. Herdina’s class measure their sap. They had two gallons of sap. I hope we get more sap!
The Mystery of the Holes by DMario
We went to the muddy path. There was snow by our maple tree. Inside the tree there is sap. There were a lot of holes in the maple tree. It was fun going to the maple tree.
Tree Tapping by Kimberly
We went tapping maple trees in the woods. Sap came out of the tree, and the sap tastes like sugar. And we saw holes in the tree from a yellow-bellied sapsucker. First we drilled a hole. Then we put a spile in. Then we used a hammer and then a bucket. Sap came out of the tree.
Tapping Maple Trees by Louie
We went to the maple tree in the woods. We put a drill in the tree. We put a spile in the tree. We hammered the spile too. We put a bucket under the spile. We got some sap. We ate some sap.
Not Much Sap by Rodney
Our class went outside to tap a maple tree. When we found our tree there were lots of holes in it. We got to drill. Then we got to taste sap. It tasted sweet.
Tapping a Tree by Jerry
We were walking to our maple tree and we drilled into the tree. The sap was coming out of the tree. We hammered the spile into the tree. Then we walked up the hill.
Maple tapping season is upon us! The 2nd grade team has been watching the weather forecast very closely. After weeks of very cold weather, temperatures will be above freezing during the day this week, which means the time to tap is NOW. Be sure to check back next week for this year's report on tapping.
We might be the absolute last to the party, but Crestwood OE finally has its own Facebook page! Yes, it's another social media outlet to maintain, but the time is right. Watch out, Instagram may be next! Baby steps, right?
Right now Crestwood OE is registered as a personal account rather than as a business, and because Facebook requires a birthdate and gender to create an account, "Crestwood OE" is listed as a 24-year-old female with an October birthday and a lumpy apple from our school orchard in the profile pic. It is what it is, but at least it's free. I also created a page for OE as an organization, but it's still brand new, with only a brief description of our organization and some photos taken at the beginning of the school year. I'm sure I'll get more FB savvy as spring rolls on, but for now, know that we finally do have a presence there, and please friend us and follow us.
Meanwhile, we had another cold week in Madison, too cold to do much outside, though I did notice by Friday morning the before-school recess was outside despite temps a bit below zero; I suspect everyone was feeling desperate to be out in the sunshine even if it was bitterly cold. Additionally, the Crestwood Caper (big fun fair fundraiser) is coming up next weekend, so classes have been busy making decorations and posters to prepare for that.
But even though I don't have anything brand new to share, I do have some student writing by Ms. Handa's 4th graders from back in the fall after an activity with pumpkins harvested from the school gardens. (Better late than never, right?)
The photos interspersed with the text are all from the woods, where Ms. Handa's class disposed of the pumpkins after the group activity. You can see that various critters quickly found the pumpkins and had a nibble or two!
Please note that all grammar and spelling appears as originally written:
Ms. Handa's 4th grade class, and there budy's Mrs. Kenidy's 3rd grade class did a fun activity. And They pulled pumkin guts out off a pumpkin! They then took the seeds off the guts. They seperaded the seeds in to groups of ten. The final stage was to count eh groups of ten. Group 1 had 480, group 2 574, and group 3 590. All together there was 1,644. We had lots of fun! (Adrian)
On October 30th Ms. Handa's 4th grade class and Mrs. Kennedy's 3rd grade class counted pumpkin seeds together. They made scinentific observations about the top and inside of the pumpkin. Then they counted the seeds in the pumpkin. They counted in groups of tens to get the number of seeds. After all of the seeds were counted they added the numbers up. The number of pumpkin seeds were 2,906. (Hannah)
On 10/27/14 Ms. Handa's class and there buddies in Ms. Kennedy's class decided they whated to count pumkin seeds. So they got there class with there buddy's but they didn't start counting yet. Before they started counting they did an observation of the outside of the pumpkin. On 10/30/14 they counted before they did a observation of the top of the pumkin (that the way they go to inside of the pumpkin) and after that they counted the seed into grops of ten with there buddy. When all the seeds were in grops of ten Ms. Handa's go and Mrs. Kennedy started making the tens into hundreds. Then we added all the hundreds up and got the anser. We added 3 of the ansers. The answer is 1644. After that we cleaned our hands with a set sipe and rolled up the paper on the table. I think we all had fun. At least I had fun. (Luci)
Today me and my 4th grade class did an experiment where first we observed and estimated how many seeds were in 3 smallish pumpkins. Then our teacher split us into 3 groups, each group worked on one pumpkin. Then our 3rd grade learning buddys came to see what was going on. All together, we got on thousand, six hundred, and forty four seeds. Then the other half of the class that our teacher made go to someone else's room came back and said that they did the same as us except different sized, pumpkins, and number. At the end, we added both of the numbers up. (Anon)
One day we got with our buddies to talk about pumpkins. First Ms. Handa told us what pumpkin we would work on. Then we got a packet for the pumpkins. We observed the pumpkin on the first page and wrote down observations and drew a scotch of the pumpkin. Then we all came together read a book called "How many seeds are in a pumpkin?" It was about a boy named Charlie who was the smallest kid in the class. They talked about there were 3 pumpkins smallest to largest. Then after we read some of the book we estamated how many seeds were in the pumpkin. Two days later we split into groups (Mrs. Kennedy and Ms. Handa) I was in Mrs. Kennedy's group. When we got there we skipped some pages. In the book we learned that the lines on the pumpkin (rib) each have a row of seeds and the darker the pumpkin the longer its been on the vine. Afterward we cut open the pumpkins and did observations on the part we cut off (the top) and the interior. Afterward we scooped all the seeds out of the pumpkin. We counted the number of seeds by putting them in tens. We figured out we had 1,262 seeds. We went bak and Ms. Handas group got 1,644 so it turns out all together there were 2,906 seeds. That was extremely fun digging out of the pumpkin!!! I WANT TO DO THAT AGAIN SOON!!! Although we are not done right? (Alex)
First we read a book called "How many seeds are in a Pumpkin. In the book the teacher asked "How many seeds do you think are in a pumpkin?" Everybody guessed except a boy the boy said "all of the guess are good, so let's start and find out. That's where we ended .WEll, then after that we all guessed how many seeds were in each pumpkin. There were six pumpkins. Next, we drew the pumpkin on the paper. We put observations that we found below the picture. The next week we split up into groups; one group would begin Ms. Kennedys class and the other group was in Ms. Handa's class. With Ms. Handa we got to feel the inside of the pumpkin. The inside of the pumpkin was very squishy, with rows of seeds on it. When we were taking the seeds out, everyone in my group thought i was gross except me. I had a fun time picking the seeds out. After we got all of the seeds out we grouped them in tens with none leftover. After that we grooped them in hundreds, we made 4 groups of a hundred with eighty seeds left. We added 400 + 80 and we got 480. The two other gougers got 574 and 590. We added 480 + 574 + 590 and got 1644. The other group got 1,282. Once we finished everyone's hands were all really gooey. We all wiped it off with a wipe and they still felt gooey. But just remember we all had lots of fun. (Jacob)
Crestwood's OE committee is dedicated to outdoor learning for all students.