Mountain Kid Messenger

S'more Outdoor Core - 2022-2023

2022 September

We begin September just a couple of weeks into the new school years. The September S'more will keep some of our year-launching August resources while adding some timely September phenomena. Summer is still holding us, as you and your Mountain Kids set and settle into your routines. Below I have left the three Outdoor Core timing routines to remind and support your calendar and clock habits. I have appreciated seeing so many of you outside with your classes during my regional ramblings since school began.


And yes, it is September. The four final months of our calendar year come from numbered names of the old Roman calendar when March was the first month of a ten month year. Using my limited Italian chops that approximates Latin, the numbers 7-10 are named Sette, Otto, Nove, and Dieci. And so our September, October, November, and December are just applied number sense and naming extended to the calendar. You might figure that when they moved to the 12 month Julian calendar and started the year in January they would have changed the months... Anyway, I give you our ninth month "Seven"/September.


As we begin our first full month in our new school year we will fade from Summer and into Fall. We begin September flirting with summer-like 100 degree highs and will likely end with first frost lows. And while we can observe it and feel it, the plants and wildlife around us really pay attention. Their survival depends on deep noticing. Changes this month hint of a still far-off but approaching winter. The Douglas Squirrels at my place are playing less and working more, collecting Ponderosa Pinecones. Life cycles are anticipating a change. Your Outdoor Core year is full of unique phenomena that trace and track this change.


Thursday, September 22 is the Fall Equinox. The "equinox" means equal night...when daylight and night are at a balance, 12 hours of each in that 24 hour day. Note that depending on longitude and latitude this will vary. While September 22 is the established equinox globally, for Plumas County September 25 or 26 is actually when we find that symmetry of light and night. The 1st, 5th, and 6th grades get to geek out on it this month.


Of course there are other notable dates for the month of September. Some are targeted. Some are whimsical. Find a few to celebrate from the list below.



  • 2 - World Coconut Day (That's why last Friday felt like that!)
  • 3 - International Vulture Awareness Day; National Hummingbird Day
  • 4 - National Wildlife Day
  • 5 - National Cheese Pizza Day
  • 6 - National Coffee Ice Cream Day
  • 7 - National Acorn Squash Day; National Beer Lover's Day; Natl. Threatened Species Day; International Clean Air & Blue Skies Day
  • 9 - International Literacy Day
  • 14 - National Cream-filled Donut Day
  • 15 - Beginning of National Hispanic Heritage Month
  • 16 - National Guacamole Day
  • 17-23 - National Farm Animal Awareness Week
  • 18 - National Cheeseburger Day
  • 19 - International Talk like a Pirate Day
  • 22 - Hobbit Day
  • 24 - National Punctuation Day; International Rabbit Day; Fish Amnesty Day & National Bluebird Day & National Wildlife Ecology Day
  • 25 - World Rivers Day
  • 26 - National Pancake Day; Johnny Appleseed Day
  • 27 - National Chocolate Milk Day
  • 29 - World Heart Day; Happy Goose Day
  • 30 - Blasphemy Day



This Mountain Kid Messenger September Edition is intended to be a fresh and timely breakdown of the observable phenomena occurring locally that tie to each of your grade levels, highlight and celebrate local learning and fun from the field, and share timely resources.


Time for S'more Outdoor Core!

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Learning Landscapes

Learning Landscapes is our partnership with the Feather River Land Trust (FRLT). Working with local landowners FRLT conserved access to properties with wild spaces, within a 10-minute walk of your campus. They constructed the Outdoor Classroom on your campus. FRLT also funded the field kits for each school with class sets of binoculars, field guides and hand lenses. Lastly, they were responsible for bringing field journaling with John Muir Laws. Without Learning Landscapes there would not really be Outdoor Core, and so we acknowledge that organization and the support they provide year after year, with no strings attached.

Mystery Science Support

Mystery Science is a resource to supplement our local Outdoor Core Adventures as well as support physical science coverage that our place-based studies do not cover well. Start here on their home page but dive in from there. A lot of good mysteries that fit our seasonal celebration and some new lessons and units in grades K, 1, 3, & 4. All materials are available in Spanish.


If new to Mystery Science you can follow this link and sign up for your PUSD account


Mystery Science Home Page

Nature Journaling - John Muir Laws Links

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Mountain Kid Miles

As you and your Mountain Kids venture out regularly they will accumulate experiences, observations, learning, and literal miles. We have new stickers that will celebrate these accumulating miles and the healthy learning lifestyle of Mountain Kids. From Kindergarten on up, I request that you track and certify the benchmark achievements of your kids as they reach, 1, 10, 100, and even 1,000 miles. As the old adage says, "A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step," and we all know how popular it is to count steps. This is like that.
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Kindergarten - The Garden Year

Welcome Video

Please share this short video to welcome your Mountain Kids to start their new Garden Year.


Kindergarten Outdoor Core Shared Drive

Follow the link to the PUSD Google Drive's shared drives. One of the drives is identified for your Outdoor Core grade level. These are your digital curriculum resources specific to your grade level.


Outdoor Core Video Resources

On the PUSD Website and YouTube Channel live the video resources I have created and curated in recent years. Follow the link to get to the main page and then select your grade level. The videos are local phenomena throughout the year made by me as well as other scientists and stewards in the region.


Getting Started

Kindergarten is where the whole journey starts. Kids get their Klean Kanteen and first sticker. They get their first field journal where the scientist languages of pictures, words, and numbers first come into play. Start small and simple. The main Mountain Kid science muscle we want them to exercise is WONDER. It is actually emphasized in Next Generation Science Standards and the California Science Framework. Set everything else aside and take the time to wonder. Have a wonderful year.


Starting School at Garden Harvest Time

Your School Garden Coordinator is likely guiding you and your Mountain Kids into the new cycle of learning at school, even as the school garden will be coming to end of the growing cycle with harvest. I leave these details in the very capable hands of your Garden Coordinator but don't miss the rich fall harvest that comes during fall. Fun to start at the end in certain ways! I am eating a lot of tomatoes and berries right now. And of course, next month will be pumpkin time.


Children & Nature Network Gardening Resources

Richard Louv, who published Last Child in the Woods 14 years also helped to start this organization that doesn't great things for kids and nature. Use the following links to check out an article, an interview, and an entire Research Digest edition devoted to Gardening with kids. And if you don't feel like reading, think about eating and please watch this wonderful video about kids eating their education.


Weather Watch

As I shared last month, weather happens every day and so you have daily opportunities to explore and observe. Keep it simple. Hot, warm, cool, cold. Windy. Cloudy. As the year progresses you can go further with this and even partner with the 3rd or 6th grade who both study weather. And yes it all starts with wonder.

First Grade - Year of the Invertebrate

Welcome Video

Please share this short video to welcome your Mountain Kids to their new Year of the Invertebrate.


First Grade Outdoor Core Shared Drive

Follow the link to the PUSD Google Drive's shared drives. One of the drives is identified for your Outdoor Core grade level. These are your digital curriculum resources specific to your grade level.


Outdoor Core Video Resources

On the PUSD Website and YouTube Channel live the video resources I have created and curated in recent years. Follow the link to get to the main page and then select your grade level. The videos are local phenomena throughout the year made by me as well as other scientists and stewards in the region.


Getting Started

Begin as all things do, with what they already know. Invertebrate is a big, four syllable word and packed in with it is a lot of science possibility so keep it simple. It is just an animal with no backbone. We are just thinking about our spineless Sierra Nevada species which mostly are little creatures - insects, spiders, snails, slugs, centipedes, millipedes, and even crawdads. We almost called this the year of the Bug, but teachers voted and liked the more scientific naming of invertebrate. For every creepy crawly there is a beautiful butterfly and right now they are all out and about. See below for the Mantid friend I made last week.


Pollinator Primed

After their Garden Year they should already know a fair amount. And this is a big, important year. There are more invertebrates on the planet than any other animlia. Without our invertebrates, who are our core pollinators, there would not be life as we know it. No food. No fiber. Invertebrates make the world go 'round. Little is big!


Exploration, Curiosity, & Wonder

Your core field activity should just be the regular venturing outside to see what is crawling, climbing, digging, and flying, and then keeping track of what you observe. Science is very open in the primary grades, just like their Mountain Kid minds. So some of the best science education is to explore, observe and record our invertebrates. Our field journaling is perfect for that. Your kids simply record who they saw, where they were, and when they observed it.


Keep it curious! Keep it simple! And keep encouraging your kids to keep asking questions. Don't worry about having the answers. We want them wondering as they are wandering!


Astronomy

So astronomy for first grade is a simple cut. The sun and the moon are our two big objects in the sky and getting to know them as we see them (but not stare directly at) is just about observing and wondering. A year is how long it takes to travel around the sun. A month is essentially a full cycle of the moon, from new to full and back. And everyday the sun and moon rise and set to our eyes but change just a little. The Mystery Science Spinning Sky Unit also has new lessons to support Sun & Shadows and Moon & Stars.

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Second Grade - Year of the Herp

Welcome Video

Please share this short video to welcome your Mountain Kids to their new Year of the Herp (Reptiles and Amphibians)


Second Grade Outdoor Core Shared Drive

Follow the link to the PUSD Google Drive's shared drives. One of the drives is identified for your Outdoor Core grade level. These are your digital curriculum resources specific to your grade level.


Outdoor Core Video Resources

On the PUSD Website and YouTube Channel live the video resources I have created and curated in recent years. Follow the link to get to the main page and then select your grade level. The videos are local phenomena throughout the year made by me as well as other scientists and stewards in the region.


Getting Started

Yes, the science shortcut for reptiles and amphibians is Herp. Herp comes from the Greek words for reptile and "creep". Now that we have that out of the way, I want to say I truly love this year. I know the lizards and snakes don't make too many fans, but the turtles, frogs, and salamanders round out a very important group of animals that are very sensitive to changes in our mountain environment. Drought is tough but Dixie was devastating.


Herp Heroes

Herps need heroes, and your 2nd grade Mountain Kids are those heroes! Because they are very susceptible to predation, our herps are hard to find. Between their adaptations of camouflage and stealth it requires those same skills from your kids. And your Mountain Kids have likely caught their share of bluebellies, alligator lizards, and garter snakes. They will know a little but they will learn a lot more this year. And at the end of this year we want the kids to become literal Herp Heroes by taking action to make the world better for the herps. The Herp Hero image below is a sticker I have for every Mountain Kid is a hero for a herp.


Keep Records

Your Mountain Kids can be a part of recording important phenomena as they see their first of each species of the calendar year. For each sighting they would record - Who they saw. When they saw it (date and time), and Where they saw it. Please share those with me and your 2nd grade colleagues around the region. Comparing and contrasting observations in different elevations and habitats is great science!


Water

Water is a habitat requirement for every living thing. Our amphibians especially bound to the quantity and quality of our local water. And water is a 2nd grade Earth Science focus so this is perfect science "bundling" in a single, local storyline. Where is the water at the school, near the school, and on the learning landscape? Once you and your Mountain Kids know where the water is, look at where the water was earlier in the year. Some water is seasonal. Some water is year-round. All water is important!

Third Grade - Year of the Mammal

Welcome Video

Please share this short video to welcome your Mountain Kids to their new Year of the Mammal


Third Grade Outdoor Core Shared Drive

Follow the link to the PUSD Google Drive's shared drives. One of the drives is identified for your Outdoor Core grade level. These are your digital curriculum resources specific to your grade level.


Outdoor Core Video Resources

On the PUSD Website and YouTube Channel live the video resources I have created and curated in recent years. Follow the link to get to the main page and then select your grade level. The videos are local phenomena throughout the year made by me as well as other scientists and stewards in the region.


Getting Started

3rd grade is the beginning of the intermediate grades. In Outdoor Core we up the ante with Mammals. From the small and unassuming to the large and attention grabbing, mammals are on everyone's animal radar. Still start simple and small. Mountain Kids can likely share personal experience for 1/3 of our mammals. Don't just brainstorm the names, but what they know about each mammal species.

Still there are many more species, and much more to know about them, as we track them throughout the year. The species adoption, study, and report will develop expertise as your kids become Junior Wildlife Biologists.


Bear Aware

Last year we followed the exploits of a Tahoe-based nuisance bear, "Hank the Tank," and what it means to live responsibly (or not) with bears. Wildlife folks have coined the term "Bear Aware" to encourage locals to know how to live near our Black Bear so we don't have to actually live and deal as directly with them. A new Plumas News article delves into local Plumas stories and experiences with one of our largest mammals.


Mammal Specimens: Skulls, Pelts, Bones

I will be delivering mammal artifacts in the next couple of weeks to this who have requested them. Please reach out to me and request specific species and items so that I can do this accurately and you and your students can enjoy a closer look at collected specimens fo local wildlife biologists. Many of these will be from the Portola High School Natural History Museum, collected and curated by the retired legend, Dave Valle and his students over many years. An email is sufficient.


Weather Watch

Weather is a daily and even minute by minute phenomenon and an important part of the 3rd grade year. Weather is always happening in it's various ways and so you can study it anytime and anywhere. Just to remind some of the easiest and valuable weather phenomena


  • Temperatures (High & Low)
  • Wind (Direction & Speed)
  • Precipitation (Amount& Type)
  • Humidity (The relationship between temperature and humidity)


There are more but these are the quick ones. And remember when you look up the weather forecast, those meteorologists are faraway forecasters. We get to check their accuracy here on the ground.

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Fourth Grade - Year of the Trout

Welcome Video

Please share this short video to welcome your Mountain Kids to their new Year of the Trout.


Fourth Grade Outdoor Core Shared Drive

Follow the link to the PUSD Google Drive's shared drives. One of the drives is identified for your Outdoor Core grade level. These are your digital curriculum resources specific to your grade level.


Outdoor Core Video Resources

On the PUSD Website and YouTube Channel live the video resources I have created and curated in recent years. Follow the link to get to the main page and then select your grade level. The videos are local phenomena throughout the year made by me as well as other scientists and stewards in the region.


Getting Started

The second half of the year is heavy with activity but the first half is where the foundation is laid. These are Mountain Kids and so many likely have existing experience and knowledge about local trout species. As always we start with what the kids know.

The other part of the foundation is your local tributary. The creek or river closest to the school is your fork of the Feather River and the basis of learning and life for the year. Getting to know this tributary and the many species that make it a healthy habitat takes time and repetition. The 3Cs - Cold, Clear, Clean Water, may be natural but it does not happen by accident. One of the things we change most in our towns and region is where the water flows.


Feather River Trout Unlimited

Ryan Thoni and the amazing volunteers of FR Trout Unlimited are here for you again. This partnership is a wonderful part of your year as your kids get to learn from real local scientists and experienced anglers in the region. Most of you know Ryan and FRTU well. The name-link above will take you to his address. Be aware that Ryan is doing work out of the area this fall as a wildfire monitor but he will connect you to other local fish folks as needed.


Salmon Run Field Trip

While CRC does not do this trip due to distance, the rest of the PUSD has a big October trip down to the Feather River Fish Hatchery in Oroville to kayak with the migrating Chinook Salmon. These amazing fish used to spawn up here, closer to where we live, before the many dams and other obstructions removed their historic spawning grounds.

PUSD covers your transportation. Captain Carl Memorial Funds cover the activity cost. Below are your essential links:

The Adult and Minor Waiver

School Roster Template


  • October 11 - CES
  • October 12 - GES
  • October 13 - QES


I also encourage a follow-up field trip to the Feather River Canyon to look more closely at the obstructions (dams) that keep our Steelhead and Salmon from returning to their traditional spawning grounds. Please reach out to me with your interest and potential dates.

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Fifth Grade - Year of the Bird


Welcome Video

Please share this short video to welcome your Mountain Kids to their new Year of the Bird


Fifth Grade Outdoor Core Shared Drive

Follow the link to the PUSD Google Drive's shared drives. One of the drives is identified for your Outdoor Core grade level. These are your digital curriculum resources specific to your grade level.


Outdoor Core Video Resources

On the PUSD Website and YouTube Channel live the video resources I have created and curated in recent years. Follow the link to get to the main page and then select your grade level. The videos are local phenomena throughout the year made by me as well as other scientists and stewards in the region.


Getting Started

Start simple. Brainstorm all of the local birds your kids already know. There are 312 different species so there is room to grow no matter what they know. Your goal is not to see them all. It is to grow what you know through doing local science. Learn more about the birds you hear and see as we move through the seasons. The cast of characters will change.


Plumas Audubon Society (PAS)

PAS adds a lot of value to what you do as a 5th grade teacher. You not only have scientists behind you, you have an entire organization. PAS assembled the PEEP curriculum with us 5 years ago that still is a fundamental foundation for your Outdoor Core year. It is in your Shared Drive and a hardcopy binder should be in every classroom.

As mentioned, last years coordinator, Ashley Bomar, has moved on to other employment. The beauty of strong partnership is that the organization and their board and members are still with us. They do not yet have a coordinator in place but their Operations Director, the wonderful Liz Ramsey, has confirmed that you can count on one monthly each month visit to support your efforts. Most of you should have had some contact by now, but if not, please follow her link above to schedule.


Plumas Audubon Speaker Series

This is a monthly Plumas Audubon event. In September the topic is the PUSD 5th Grade Year of the Bird and the presenter is me. You are most welcome to attend and it might be of interest to your 5th grade parents to better understand the year. It is adult-centered but Mountain Kids are welcome to attend.


  • Thursday September 8
  • 7-8:00pm
  • Quincy Library


Migration Celebration

September 12-22, 2022 is eBirds' biggest online celebration of the year. eBird as you likely know is the amazing resource from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology that helps you do everything from explore phenomena and collect data. In September the subtle shifts of migration begin that continue into October. Please take advantage of the 10 days of webinars and other resources to celebrate this important event in the Year of the Bird. It includes simple ways that you and your students can help our migrating birds, such as turning out lights.


Astronomy

And speaking of dark skies... you study more than birds in 5th grade but there are interesting points of relationship. Nature is very connected. We do like to bundle our science learning so everything from birds migrating using the stars to constellations named for stars are easy connection points. Beyond that, the daily phenomena of the changing length of days marked by sunrise and sunset times, and lunar phase changes are simple access points to get the kids getting down with looking up.

One more resource on the well known phenomenon of "shooting stars" is this recent interview with astronomer Regina Barber.

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Sixth Grade - Watershed Year

Welcome Video

Please share this short video to welcome your Mountain Kids to their new Watershed Year.


Sixth Grade Outdoor Core Shared Drive

Follow the link to the PUSD Google Drive's shared drives. One of the drives is identified for your Outdoor Core grade level. These are your digital curriculum resources specific to your grade level.


Outdoor Core Video Resources

On the PUSD Website and YouTube Channel live the video resources I have created and curated in recent years. Follow the link to get to the main page and then select your grade level. The videos are local phenomena throughout the year made by me as well as other scientists and stewards in the region.


Getting Started with Science Habits

FREd is where the year really finds its footing but please do not wait for camp to start. 6th grade is the capstone of elementary school but it is also a middle school science year. Getting them into a rhythm with regular science is essential as your kids will have science every day through junior and senior high school.


These daily science habits don't have to be massive but they should communicate the value of science in their school day. An easy way is with your morning meeting, or however you start your school day. Identifying the date and then the science of that date - Weather, Moon Phase, Sunrise and Sunset times, will set some foundation stones in place that we will build on all year long.


FREd

Feather River Education (FREd ) Camp is where we really lock in and set the foundation for the year. Our "breadstack" activity is when we really introduce the fullness of the earth and space science year to the kids. From the deep space beyond our sphere (astronomy) to the atmosphere (climate & weather), the geosphere (geology), and hydrosphere (hydrology), this is where we will explore this year.

I will be in touch with more information and an appointment to visit your class. Your forms are in your Google Drive's 6th Grade Watershed Shared Drive FREd Folder. Your camp dates are below.



  • Chester & Greenville - September 20-23, 2022
  • CRC - September 27-30, 2022
  • Quincy - October 4-7, 2022



One last FREd prep is to remind that we will do a 9 mile hike in the Bucks Lake Wilderness to the top of Spanish Peak. This is a 20 year tradition and every Mountain Kid does it. It is not easy but it is easier if the kids are prepared. Just getting into one and two mile habits to your Learning Landscape site each week will help. Get the kids excited and hooked on counting steps or other fitness habit. This is where Mountain Kid becomes literal.


Astronomy

As I have shared, tracking the daily phenomena of changes in the 1) phases of the moon and 2) sunrise and sunset times to exporel light and night length are simple and profound. Please get them thinking in this daily way. Another phenomenon we study this year a bit is "shooting stars." This interview with astronomer Regina Barber delves into the misunderstood science of meteors.


Weather, Winter, & Watersheds

A big part of the year is climate and weather as it really drives the water story and journey we will be a part of all year. Winter specifically is our big season of noticing as winter snow becomes the river flow and everything beyond. Open Snow is my source for snow weather and forecasting. Even though we are still in summer's grasp, NOAA and other's in the meteorological sciences are using forecasting models to explore the coming winter. Check out their long-range winter forecast.