This morning at Birches a few first graders found a wooly bear caterpillar outside on the playground. They excitedly brought it inside and started to build a habitat for their new friend, working together to create ramps, mazes, eating areas, a house, and much more. At first they were certain the wooly bear wouldn't be able to climb the walls (blocks from block area) but they quickly learned he was fast and nimble and could scurry up and along their fortress. Teachers capitalized on their enthusiasm and found websites to research wooly bears, what they eat, and what they become. For example, they are one of a few kinds of caterpillars that overwinter, staying frozen for months, and only forming cocoons in the springtime to transform into tiger moths!
Here students use a magnifying glass to observe the wooly bear as he nibbles on a variety of leaves collected from the playground:
After morning free choice time, students and teachers cleaned up the impromptu habitat and gave the wooly bear a more secure home in the class terrarium. During Investigations this morning, the teachers responded to the children's continuing enthusiasm. The students observed and made detailed drawings of wooly bears, comparing them to the silk moth caterpillars we've been observing for a week. We will continue to learn more about all of our new critters in the weeks to come!