2009-06-20 / Top News

Island Children Explore Nature Trail at British Landing

By Kerri Jo Molitor

After teacher Laura Eiseler helped him read a sign about winter survival on Mackinac, student Macade Ferguson sat down to draw a picture of what he had learned. He was part of a school nature hike field trip Tuesday, May 26. "It's a chipmunk," he said. "They sleep all through the winter, but they come out sometimes for food." After teacher Laura Eiseler helped him read a sign about winter survival on Mackinac, student Macade Ferguson sat down to draw a picture of what he had learned. He was part of a school nature hike field trip Tuesday, May 26. "It's a chipmunk," he said. "They sleep all through the winter, but they come out sometimes for food." Twelve elementary students from Mackinac Island Public School explored the hidden secrets of the nature trail at British Landing Tuesday, May 26. They were each armed with a nature book and a bag of crayons as they hiked through the forest on this cold and windy morning.

They had biked to British Landing from school with their two teachers, Vicki Urman, kindergarten and first grade, and Laura Eiseler, second and third grade, and received instructions about how to use their nature book, while sitting on a log near the trailhead.

The book provides space for the students to draw the flowers and insects and other signs of nature they encounter along the way.

"We like to take the kids out in the spring and the fall," Ms. Eiseler said. "We do lots of things with animals and we do a lot of different things on Island trees. Some of these kids live here their whole lives and never come up on these trails."

While hiking through the woods near British Landing, students Nicholas Davis, Aaron Riggs, and Brooke'Lynn Holder peel off a small piece of bark in search of insects. The students chose this tree because of the woodpecker holes in the trunk. The insects they are looking for are the prey of the woodpecker. When they find an insect, they will draw a picture of it in their nature book, an assignment they had0 to complete during a school hike Tuesday, May 26. While hiking through the woods near British Landing, students Nicholas Davis, Aaron Riggs, and Brooke'Lynn Holder peel off a small piece of bark in search of insects. The students chose this tree because of the woodpecker holes in the trunk. The insects they are looking for are the prey of the woodpecker. When they find an insect, they will draw a picture of it in their nature book, an assignment they had0 to complete during a school hike Tuesday, May 26. The students learn to look for holes in the trees made by woodpeckers and pine cones peeled apart by hungry squirrels.

One section of the forest was littered with trees toppled over by the wind. Mrs. Eiseler explained they had fallen because they were top heavy. The trees didn't have any branches at the bottom of their trunks because of lack of sunlight.

"It looks like my bedroom," exclaimed second grade student Aaron Riggs, referring to the messy way the trees were strewn on the ground.

At left: Gabriel Hepker writes the name of a tree after making a bark rubbing during a nature hike at British Landing. He placed a piece of paper against the tree and rubbed his crayon over it, transfering the design of the bark to the paper. At left: Gabriel Hepker writes the name of a tree after making a bark rubbing during a nature hike at British Landing. He placed a piece of paper against the tree and rubbed his crayon over it, transfering the design of the bark to the paper. At one broken tree, Mrs. Eiseler showed kindergarten student Brooke Dziobak a spider's egg sac nestled in the dead wood, explaining how the dead trees become homes for many animals.

After learning the Indians used moss as diapers for their babies, the students were eager to feel the moss. Although most of them agreed it was soft, none of them liked the idea of using it as a diaper.

The moss is "spotty," said first grade student Hannah Styburski. "It's like there is one little island on there. I would not like it [as a diaper] because it wouldn't feel good."

Third grade student Nicholas Davis learned how birds survive the winter on Mackinac Island from a descriptive sign.

"Birds go to warmer places so they don't freeze to death here," he said.

Master Davis said his favorite part on the nature trail was looking near woodpecker holes for insects.

"We got to look for big spiders and bugs to see how many bugs are in the log," he said.

The nature hike ended with a picnic near the pine trees on British Landing. Mrs. Eiseler said her students seem to love taking nature hikes just as much as she does.

"This is what I like to do," she said. "Also, part of my curriculum is life cycles and [the students] love it."

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