“As you hold the Talking Shell, share what your favorite wild animal in Maine is with the rest of the group.” That’s how Kimberly Ridley opened up her sessions with the students from the outer islands when they all met for their TLC gathering in late October (Teaching and Learning Conference).
Kids, teachers, and parent chaperones converged in Newry, Maine at the Hurricane Island Outward Bound Learning Center to participate in rotating workshops with OB staff on Leave No Trace, outdoor survival skills, and Nature Journaling with Kim. Using her most recent book The Secret Bay, which focuses on the habitat of estuaries, she helped kids to understand the connection of habitats from their own islands, oceans, estuaries, and streams surrounding their home base in Newry.
Kids in Kindergarten – 2nd grade received copies of The Secret Bay and practiced close observation of animals from nature using beautiful photograph flash cards that Kim had prepared.
The 3rd – 5th graders also received books and looked more carefully at actual specimens and described what they noticed, wondered about, and were reminded of as they used descriptive words to help readers discover their animal’s identity. “Bumpy skin,” “spidery veins,” and “no visible ears” were some of the words used to describe what they noticed. When asked to wonder about what they saw and didn’t see in their animal photograph, questions were raised about, “ How high can it hop?”, “Why is it brown?”, and “How does it freeze?” and “How does it live after it freezes?” – all showing the curiosity necessary to do detailed research in preparation for writing.
Older students in grades 6 -8 received sketch books to use in their nature journaling and were convinced that investigation tells you lots about an animal before making decisions about how cool or “yucky” it may be. A majority of students said that the session encouraged them to write and/or sketch more in nature and that they’d be interested in reading more about nature. Kimberly said she hoped to inspire them to take this enthusiasm back to their islands, where they could write their own nature book (about their “Secret Island!”) that could help visitors learn more about their habitat.