By: Laura Nelms, Greening and Nutrition Committee at Lafayette Elementary School …..
What happens to plants and animals when winter arrives? This was a question Lafayette kindergartners investigated out in the garden in February.
Students first learned about different strategies that plants and animals have for dealing with the change in seasons (adaptation, hibernation, migration). Outside, the students discussed what had changed since our fall outing (it’s colder, the leaves don’t have trees, there’s lots of snow!). Working in pairs, they then went on a winter scavenger hunt to search for animal tracks and other signs of animal activity, evergreen leaves and bare trees, cocoons and empty nests and other evidence of how plants and animals can deal with the change in weather. A highlight of the hunt was the discovery of a praying mantis egg sac attached to the bottom of a laurel leaf, waiting for the warm weather to arrive.
In addition to the scavenger hunt, students also used thermometers to take both air and ground temperatures. Even with the snow, the ground was warmer. Students learned about how snow can be like a blanket and provide insulation and warmth for the hibernating animals and plant roots growing below ground.
Despite the cold weather, students didn’t want to head back inside—especially those who hadn’t been able to mark off all the items on their scavenger hunt list!