Nov. 7-10: Secret Salamander Spot
This year Wild Child has been making single visits to groups of children enrolled with the EXCEL Child Care Program and depending upon the number of children enrolled, I may only get to see the school grounds once, twice, or if I am lucky a few times.
When I visit a school ground just once, it is a challenge for me to plan the activities because there may or may not be suitable spaces to do specific things. Most of the schools that I have visited have a wooded area on the property or directly adjacent to the school grounds and the staff has been very helpful in filling me in on what is available for us to use during my visits.
What I don’t always recognize is the knowledge that the children have of their own grounds and their eagerness to share this with me.
It was a cool late fall afternoon, but the day had been warm and sunny. We moved from running around in the field to “Hug a Tree” activity in the shady thicket. Intertwined with tree roots were lots of rocks and the ground was pretty moist. We were getting into position to do our little sit when an older boy came over with a salamander in his hand and the rest of the children were off, scrambling to turn over rocks and finding lots of these amphibians, sometimes in groups of 3 or 4 hidden under the rocks in the moist ground.
It was an unexpected hunt and not in my schedule of activities, but seeing their enthusiasm and excitement when they found one, I couldn’t ask them to sit still and be quiet. So we continue to look for a while and occasionally finding a worm or a millipede.
The salamanders when they were first found would move very slowly, but once warmed up they would quickly dart up a shirt sleeve or off the end of our hands. For the older children this was a known salamander hot spot, but for the younger students this was their first time encountering these fascinating secretive creatures. I was shocked to see just how many there were.
Afterwards, with the last of the sunlight fading, we had a little talk about salamanders and did our little sit together. I felt as though I had been initiated by the older students about the school’s secret salamander spotting ground.