This morning my class and I headed to the school farm for our "Farmology" field trip, a fun-filled two hour experience. Petting, watching, and learning about baby sheep, goats, and ducklings is the highlight of the program, and even the acrid smells in the barn aren't a deterrent. The guides at our farm are fantastic and patient, making sure each little 3rd grader gets their chance to pet the baby animals and ask questions. And, as usual, they had lots of questions. And, as usual, they made me smile throughout the morning.
The barn visit was, overall, fairly uneventful, with the exception of one of the sheep peeing while the guide was pointing out its animal features and adaptations. Always good for a few "ewwws" and giggles.
Next, we set off for the Poultry House, which was warm albeit a bit smellier than the barn. We all crowded around a little penned off area where no less than ten little ducklings were kept with two adult ducks. The guide pointed out for us to notice that as soon as we approached, all the ducklings made quacking noises and huddled around the bigger ducks. She asked the kids to observe that and think about the behavior they were seeing.
"What do you notice about how they are acting right now?" she quizzed them.
Several hands shot into the air. They are all so polite. The guide nodded to one sweet little girl. "Yes?" she prompted.
"They are all acting very nice," she smiled. And indeed, they were being nice little ducklings.
"Well, yes," said the guide. "They certainly are being nice. But what do you notice about how they are acting?"
"Well, I see they are cooperating with each other well," added one little boy.
How cute is that? They all saw the ducks as cooperative, nice little animals. Rather like themselves, I think!
After more discussion and some duckling petting, we headed outside to look at more ducks and look at their adaptations. The guide picked up one of the ducks and started to place it into a large aquarium. One Sea World savvy little one guided the kids back from what he explained was the "splash zone". The kids squealed with delight as they watched it paddle around and dip its beak into the water, skimming for food. It was cool because they could see the ducks webbed feet underwater and watch the water bead up on its feathers.
"Is the duck cold?" asked one little boy. "Because I am and I'm not even in water."
Several other heads nodded in agreement and rubbed their hands together to warm them.
"What do you think?" asked the guide.
They talked back and forth for a bit and ended the conversation understanding that the feathers keep them warm and cozy. As we headed off to the field, a little cutie began walking next to me and talking.
"I wish I had feathers," she told me. "Then I would be warm."
We talked the rest of that walk to decide if she should get some feathers and how she might attach them to her body. If gluing them on a sweater would be the best way. She mentioned to me that she was going to ask for feathers for her next birthday.
Next up was watching a trained Border Collie named Spike herd ducks around a field and back into a cage. That probably doesn't sound as interesting as it actually was in person. The kids loved it.
Our final stop was into the greenhouse to learn about plants. Now, let me just preface this last story with the fact that the humidity today was about 78%. And we were in a greenhouse.
The guide was explaining vascular and nonvascular plants and we were looking at different plants and plant structures. Kids were raising their hands and commenting and asking questions. One of my boys raised his hand, and before even being asked he pointed to me (I was standing across the greenhouse) and shouted, "What happened to your hair?"
Fourteen little heads and two guides immediately looked my way. My eyes got big as saucers as I patted my hair with my hands. If any of you out there have hair that completely goes crazy, frizzy in humidity, you can feel my pain. We all got a good chuckle out of it as I explained briefly to them that what happened to my hair is called "humidity". I told them my hair is like a hygrometer; when the humidity or moisture in the air rises, so does my hair.
And then we went back to plants. Although I did see a few kids sneak some secretive glances my way to look again at my growing hairdo.
And more than a couple teachers asked me when I got back if I had been outside on a field trip as their eyes traveled to the top of my head, hoping there was a reason for the new do.
Guess I better go find my flat iron. Although with a rainy week predicted ahead, it's no match for Michigan's humidity.