LOVE MADISON WORK DAY
SUNDAY, MAY 4 FROM 9-3
BRING A SHOVEL
SEE YOU THERE!!
Mark your calendars!! This coming Sunday, May 4, is the Love Madison work day at Crestwood from 9-3. Volunteers from Blackhawk Church will be there from 9-12. Come when you can. Wear clothes that can get dirty. If you have a shovel and/or work gloves, bring them. We will be digging post holes, spreading mulch on trails in the woods, roto-tilling around the orchard and circle gardens, setting up a new set of straw bales for planting, pulling weeds, and having a good time all the while.
LOVE MADISON WORK DAY
SUNDAY, MAY 4 FROM 9-3
BRING A SHOVEL
SEE YOU THERE!!
I have some exciting news to share: as of April 2014, the Crestwood woods are now officially recognized as a school forest! This designation allows our school to receive funding and support from the Wisconsin DNR for supplies and curriculum development, among other things. There is a core group of dedicated current and retired staff members and community volunteers who have worked very hard to make this happen, and we owe them a big THANK YOU!
Part of the restoration process is tree planting; in fact, over the last few years, Crestwood students have planted more than 400 trees on school property. It's a big job keeping track of them all. Last week, fourth graders from Ms. Handa's and Mr. Waity's classes spent several hours outside locating trees, measuring growth, and entering data onto a spreadsheet on iPads. Have you ever wondered how to measure a tree? Here is a step-by-step tutorial!
*ETA: I should add a preliminary step here, which is to assemble your Tree Team and assign a task to everyone. You need a Navigator (to locate the trees using the GPS), a Scribe (to record location and measurement data on the iPad), an Illustrator (to sketch the tree on paper), one or two Measurers (with the caliper for the tree diameter and a tape measure for height and new growth), a Photographer, and a Checker (someone to hold the big sheet of white paper behind the tree while the picture is being taken). These tasks can be rotated with each tree or remain consistent throughout the data collection process. Leave that up to the kids, and it's an interesting exercise in project management and leadership/diplomacy skills.
Step 1: Locate your tree
Every tree was planted with a protective tube around its trunk, and every tube was labeled with a number in the order it was planted. Students were given GPS coordinates for each tree, along with a GPS device to help locate each tree.
Located at the bottom of each tree is also a luggage tag with the tree type (Red Oak, Sugar Maple, etc) and the date it was planted. All of this information was recorded in the spreadsheet.
Step 2: Measure the diameter of the tree
Students used a caliper to measure the base of the trunk and recorded the diameter in centimeters.
Step 3: Check for new growth
One data point to enter with this step was to answer the simple question: is the tree still alive? For one group who searched at least ten minutes for a numbered tube and finally found it, only to discover the stunted, brittle remains of a red oak planted in 2010, the answer was, alas, a definitive, inarguable no, not alive.
For the rest of the trees, students checked for new growth by inspecting the color of the bark, where the buds appeared, and so forth. They then measured the area of new growth and recorded that on the spreadsheet.
Step 4: Measure the tree's height
This step seems self-explanatory enough, doesn't it? Most of the trees are still so young that it wasn't a problem for the average 10-year-old kid to measure their height. For one particularly healthy red dogwood (pictured left), no one could come close to reaching to the top, so we had to come up with a different way of calculating its height: hold the tape measure halfway up the tree, then double that measurement.
Step 5: Take a picture
This is one part of data collection in which the school's iPads were very handy. Sure, you can fill in all those measurements on a piece of paper (though using an electronic spreadsheet is much more efficient), but when it comes to taking photographs, there is no match for a device with a camera and touchscreen where in mere seconds you can click a picture, then drag it straight to the spreadsheet and resize it.
Of course, there's always the temptation on the students' part to start taking selfies out in the woods instead of going back to the spreadsheet, but hey, at least they were enjoying themselves.
Now, can you guess why we had those big white sheets of paper behind the tree?
…a champion tree climber!
Enjoy these videos of Mr. House scaling up nearly to the top of a giant oak tree and then down again in the Crestwood Forest for the Earth Day assembly.
Meanwhile, much more is happening outdoors at Crestwood these days: trees are being measured, tulips are blooming, and so very many seeds are being planted. So stay tuned!
Greetings, all and happy Earth Day!! Crestwood Elementary will celebrate Earth Week with a fun assembly tomorrow (Wednesday) featuring a sing-along with music teacher Shawn McMahon, a performance of the Maple Syrup clapping song, and a tree-climbing demonstration by Joe House (a.k.a Superman!), plus we'll find out just what happened to that stuff Mr. Basseuner buried in the turkey vulture plot at the Lantern Walk last November. Members of your friendly Outdoor Ed committee met over spring break last week to put together some activities for a walking tour of the woods, gardens, and orchard, but most of our plants are having a hard time waking up after such a long, cold winter, so there isn't much to see out there just yet. For that reason we're recommending that teachers wait a week or two to do any walking tours of the gardens and orchard.
One exception would be the woods, where the spring ephemerals are just starting to make an appearance. Last Monday morning, a few of us walked the trails to see what was poking through the new fallen snow (yes, snow), and we saw the beginnings of, among other things, bloodroot, columbine, prairie trillium, hepatica, garlic mustard (our favorite invasive weed), stinging nettles, dutchmen's breeches, Virginia bluebells and trout lily. (Aren't those some great names for plants?)
I also want to update on THE GREAT PEA PROJECT OF 2014. First of all, many thanks to Barb Handa, Andy Waity, and Paul Shea (4th grade teachers) and Anna Jalensky (5th grade teacher), as well as their practicum students and aides who so willingly participated in this project by having their students take measurements, make calculations, and finally get all those peas in the ground. Thanks to the parent and community volunteers who helped out and didn't complain about getting dirty. And thanks to the weather, it turned out to be a beautiful week for being outdoors in the first place! All told, the kids planted approximately 1200 peas, volunteers put up more than 200 feet of fencing (to keep the hungry bunnies away), and now we're just waiting for nature to do its thing. Just this morning I found about a half dozen sprouts pushing their way through the soil. How fitting that they would make an appearance on Earth Day!
On a final note, now that spring has arrived (however reluctantly), there will be many more outdoor activities. Please keep checking back here and on the volunteer page for frequent updates!
OE is working hard getting ready for Earth Week! I took a walk in the woods this afternoon and got pictures of buds, ephemerals, and other fun things popping up along the paths. I've created a contact sheet for teachers to use as a Scavenger Hunt/Bingo activity with their classes. Click here to view the PDF.
This spring the second graders at Crestwood tapped maple trees and made maple syrup. Here is what students in Ms. Allen’s class wrote about the experience. Please be sure to look at yesterday's post as well to see a slideshow of all the maple happenings!
Tapping Our Sugar Maple Tree
Today we went to tap a maple tree. We used a hand drill and a battery drill. The sap tasted good. We put a bucket on the tree so we could get the sap. Mrs. Pearce and Daniel’s mom helped. It was really fun! By Kelvin
When I went to our maple tree and tapped it, we first drilled a hole into the tree. The first drill we used was a hand powered drill. The second drill we used was a battery powered drill. By Lila
On Friday our class tapped a maple tree. This is how we got a hole. We got a drill and started to drill. After we drilled a hole, a little sap came out. Then we got to taste some sap. By Cesar
On Friday, March 14, our class went outside to tap a sugar maple tree. We walked through the woods and found a tree with black bark and holes. Mrs. Pearce told us to measure the tree to find out if it was big enough to tap. First we used a hand powered drill and then we used a battery powered drill to make the hole. And sap came out! It tasted like water, but sweet. We put a spile in and then hung a bucket under the spile. Then we went back to class. By Maya
On Friday the class went outside. We were taking turns tasting some sap. The sap was in the tree. The teachers put a bucket on the tree. By Sandy
We went to the school forest. Then we crossed a road. Ms. Allen told us that the maple tree looked like a four. First we measured the circumference. It was about 70 inches. We used a hand powered drill and then a battery powered drill. The whole class got to taste the sap. It tasted sweet. We put a spile in before we tasted it. We put a bucket on the tree. By Rey
Making Sap into Syrup
On Monday we went back out to the tree. We collected two frozen buckets of sap. The sap wasn’t dripping from the spile. By Cee Cee
On Monday we went back to our tree and the bucket had frozen sap in it. We took it back to class. When it melted we put the sap in the Nesco. We checked how much sugar there was in it. By Brandy
On Monday we went back to collect the sap. We had two big buckets of frozen sap. Then we went back to class and then we measured the sap. We had 26 cups of sap. After we measured the sap, we put it in a big oven. It was called a Nesco. Then we measured the amount of sugar in the sap. We used a hydrometer to see. It needs to be 66 or 67 percent sugar. By Elyse
On Monday we went back to our tree to collect the sap. We had two buckets. We measured and we had twenty-six cups. Then we started to boil it. The hydrometer measures percent sugar. The hydrometer showed less than twenty-five percent. I hope this turns into syrup. By Jane
Once we got some sap we boiled it so there was less water and more sugar. Then we used a hydrometer to measure the sugar. Ms. Allen boiled the sap at her house. We also got to taste the syrup. One bottle tasted too sugary. The other one tasted just right. By Maximo
Today we boiled the sap with a Nesco. A Nesco is a small oven. It boiled our sap! The Nesco is hot! Do not touch it! We’re using a hydrometer. A hydrometer is a thing that measures how much sugar is in it. By Rowan
The next day we went to our tree and collected the sap. We took it back to class and boiled it into maple syrup. We tasted some of that too. I can’t wait for our pancake party! By Madeline
Our teacher, Ms. Allen, had to take home the sap to boil it more. Then we got to taste our own homemade syrup. We had two bottles. One bottle was really dark. It tasted like the ones in the stores. It tasted pretty good. By Claire
The next day we measured the sap with measuring cups. We boiled the sap. The next day we got to taste the sap which was now syrup. The dark syrup tasted good. By Damarion
The maple tapping and sap-making adventures of the Crestwood 2nd graders will come to its tasty conclusion on Friday morning at their pancake party. Below is the story Ms. Curtin's class wrote about making maple syrup. Enjoy the slideshow, too!
Our class and our kindergarten learning buddies from Mrs. Vogel’s class walked to Owen Woods to tap a sugar maple tree. Joe House, Mrs. Pearce, Mr Plane and Daniel’s mom helped us. Everyone got a turn to drill. We hammered a spile into the hole that we drilled. We all got a chance to taste the sap as it dripped from the spile. We hooked a bucket onto the spile and added a lid to keep bugs and stuff out. For three weeks we went to our tree to collect and measure our sap. One time there was only a drop! Altogether we collected 80 and 1/8 cups of sap. It made 3 and ½ cups of syrup. We had fun learning a maple syrup rap. At last we will get a chance to taste our syrup at a pancake party. YUM!
First of all, thanks to all the volunteers helping plant peas this week. It's a huge project, and we couldn't do it without all the extra grown-ups helping!
Since spring seems to have arrived for real, we are all abustle with outdoor activities. With spring break coming up next week for Madison schools, there has been a bit of a time crunch getting everything planned and communicated. Here are a few things coming up to watch out for:
EARTH WEEK: As soon as the kids come back from spring break, we'll be celebrating Earth Week. On April 23 (the day after Earth Day), there will be an all-school assembly with group singing, a play about Arbor Day, a tree climbing demonstration, and a walking tour of the gardens, orchard and turkey vulture plot, where Mr. Basseuner will dig up the stuff he buried during the Lantern Walk in November.
GARDEN WORK: The gardens need to be cleared for planting before the end of April so we can get our salad garden planted. The garden committee will be working on this over break and on Monday, April 21 from 10-2 (weather permitting.) Join us if you can.
LOVE MADISON WORK DAY: Our big work day is May 4, from 9-3. Volunteers from Blackhawk Church will join us from 9-12 and Crestwood families are welcome to stay until 3:00. We'll be doing a lot of work in the woods, like spreading mulch on the trails and pulling invasive weeds. There are sure to be some garden projects as well. Wear boots and clothes you don't mind getting dirty. Bring a shovel if you can.
BEGGING: Outdoor Ed does have a budget but boy do the tools and seeds and tree plantings add up! If you have any garden supplies to donate or cash to help defray the cost of supplies, please let us know. Specifically, we need potting soil, planting trays, 24" chicken wire for fencing, and seeds for basil and peppers.
As always, we can be reached by contacting your child's teacher, or by emailing us: firstname.lastname@example.org
Last year when the fourth and fifth grade classes tested the soil from the school gardens, we learned that the plots in front of the school are woefully deficient in nitrogen. That sad fact could very well explain why the vegetables we planted there didn't do so well.
So the garden committee did a little research over the winter. Just how does one add nitrogen to depleted soil? 1) Plant a fall cover crop such as rye or oats and let the soil restore itself over the winter. 2) Amend the soil with composted manure or blood meal. 3) Plant legumes in the spring and leave the roots in the soil when the crop is done.
The problem with the first two options is time. If we plant a winter cover crop, that eliminates use of the garden plots for growing vegetables for an entire growing season. Likewise with adding manure or blood meal, because those substances take a few months to break down and do any good. That leaves us with option #3. So without further ado, I'm happy to announce:
THE GREAT PEA PROJECT!!
As it turns out, peas fall into that lovely category of Early Spring Plants That Will Fix Your Nitrogen Issues And Are Also Delicious. In March, as soon as the snow started to melt, fourth and fifth grade math students took measurements of all the garden plots in need of a nitrogen fix. They calculated the area and perimeter of each plot, and then figured out just how many seeds we'll need. Click here to view the results as a PDF.
We will need almost 1700 pea seeds to cover every garden plot in need of nitrogen. That's a lot of peas! Enough, we hope, to treat each and every student at Crestwood to a few delicious pea pods as an end-of-the-school-year snack. And then we can plant all the other vegetables for harvesting in the fall and watch as they flourish over the summer. (This is assuming everything goes - and grows! - according to plan.)
Here's the part where I solicit volunteers. Did you see that number up there? 1700 is a lot of peas to plant, and we need to get them in the ground next week, before school is closed for spring break. If you can spend even a half hour helping a fourth grade class plant peas next week, please let your child's teacher know, or email us at email@example.com and we'll set you up.
Crestwood's OE committee is dedicated to outdoor learning for all students.