Rainy days are often my favorites in outdoor education. When it rains or the ground is muddy, educators often keep children indoors for a variety of reasons, all of which have merit. Sometimes children don’t come to school with appropriate outdoor clothing. An even bigger challenge can be helping get 24 children in and out of rain gear and cleaning up the messes they will inevitably bring back inside. In Environmental Studies I am committed to getting children outdoors as often as possible. That means they will get wet, they will get dirty, they will have to make some choices to manage their own comfort or discomfort, they will learn coping skills, cause and effect, and they will probably make some really interesting discoveries along the way. All of those things happened today at Northern Lights, as all classes went to our wet and rainy outdoor classroom.
One discovery that caused a lot of delight was slugs. One child turned over a log and found a slug, then another child noticed and started looking for slugs. Before long a group of very excited children had their hands full of slugs. Here are bits of the conversations I was able to record:
We found these on the back of a log!
I stepped on one once with bare feet. It was squishy.
We put them in a bucket and then we let them go, back to the log.
It’s so slimy and sticky!
I never touched a slug before! It feels weird.
Why are slugs so slimy?
It’s so sticky!
Its eyes are here on the feelers.
It’s fat. I’m waiting for its head to come out. It will get longer.
It’s not scared on the log, but if you touch it or put it on something not textured it pulls its eyes back in.
It has holes on the side of its body. I wonder what that’s for.
The slime is like butter because it doesn’t come off easily with water.
If you touch it it curls up in a ball.
Eew, you can see the slime coming out.
Can I take a closer look? (with a magnifying glass)
Put the hose on “mist” and wet the slugs. They look too dry.
Within about fifteen minutes and without interference from me, this group of children talked about what they noticed, asked questions, considered other ideas, recalled prior experiences, and managed to carefully handle living creatures. They observed behaviors and characteristics of slugs, thought about this animal’s habitat, and asked questions they could research later.
It looks like we will have a rainy week. I’m hoping for many more slimy discoveries!
Still Drying Out,
Environmental Studies Teacher