Monday, October 31, 2011

Session 5 - Alien Plants in Portland

Today the students learned about ‘alien’ plants in Portland and how these plants can lead to monocultures in our woods and erosion problems. The four invasive plants we focused on were Himalayan Blackberry, English Ivy, Herb Robert/‘Stinky Bob’, and Garlic Mustard. The students had some great questions about how to get rid of these plants and were excited to hear that there are ‘ivy pull parties’ at Tryon Creek (the next Stewardship Saturday Ivy Pull is November 12th from 9am-12pm).

The students also played the erosion game ‘Just Passing Through’ where each team got to be raindrops, plants, or stones on the slope near the school. The raindrops had to work hard to race down stream with out getting tagged by a plant. They even had a chance to play the pollution game (the raindrops tried to pick up chips that represented chemical or natural stream pollutants and ‘deliver’ them to the river with out being tagged by a plant) before we were hit with real raindrops!

This last Saturday we had a wonderful tour and hike at Hopkins Demonstration Forest. The students were able to help measure trees, count pine needles on different types of conifers, and hand drill a hole into a tall fir to tell the age and how fast it was growing.

Photos from Hopkins Demonstration Forest and Tryon Creek Hike

If you are interested in learning more about sustainable forestry, they offer Community Forestry Days on the 2nd Saturday of each month where you can be part of the action in the forest.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Session 4 - We All Need Trees

Today the students learned about the different ways we use a forest. They played the ‘Forest Appreciation Team Relay’ where they learned about the forest consumers (people in recreation, people and jobs, people and products, and animals and the Earth) and the benefits that each group takes from the forest (hiking, ranger, lumber, clean water, etc). It was great to get outside, work as a team, and race to find their consumer’s benefits! The students also sorted items collected from my home that were man-made or came from a plant/tree. You can try this game at home, searching each room to find objects from the plants or the forest.

The students finished their mason bee nest and these can be installed at your home by trying some rope or string between the two side nails and mounting it on a fence within 100 yards of the plants that you would like pollinated in the spring. It is best to face the nest east to catch the morning sun and place it at least 1 yard from the ground. These native bees are small, nonsocial, and nonaggressive; you may only notice that they are around if you find holes blocked with mud by the end of spring. You child is welcome to decorate their nest but it is not recommend to stain the wood as those chemicals may discourage the bees from using it.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Session 3 - Native Plants

This week the students learned about some of our native plants by observing them in the classroom and using their observations to write a poem or song. The students found out last week that rhyming facts makes it easier to remember - shiny leaves of three, let them be (poison oak), round and red you may be dead (holly and red elderberries), rushes are round, sedges have edges (difference between wetland grasses). Here is a collection of their poems from the class:

Native Plant Poems

They had also a chance to drill holes into a wood block for their mason bee nest. These bees are small, non-aggressive insects that are very important pollinator of native plants. The students will finish their nest at the next class (Oct 24th) and will be able to bring it home to hang in your yard. If you would like more information about how to make a mason bee nest, I have uploaded the directions we used to Google Docs:

Mason Bee Nest Directions

Have fun planting your new native plant! If you misplaced the information card for the native plant your child brought home, here is the link to the full document:

Native Plants Info

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Native Plant Sale at SWCC this weekend!

Session 2 - What's Growing at Stephen's Creek?

This week the students explored the Stephen’s Creek Nature Park (SW Bertha Blvd. and SW Chestnut St). Today was the first day of native plant identification and they were able to sample a few of our native berries (not collected from Stephen’s Creek as it is a Nature Park). Today they students saw Oregon Grape, Cedar, Douglas Fir, Large-leaf Avens, Nootka Rose, Snowberries, Thimbleberry, Hazelnut, Sword Fern, Bracken Fern, Vine Maple, and Big-leaf Maple. Take a moment to download our ‘Test your leaf knowledge’ pdf and see how many plants your child can identify!