The Buffalo Zoo Preschool Welcomes Fall!
By Anna Ileto, Early Childhood Programs Specialist, and Manager of the Buffalo Zoo Preschool
The children enrolled in the Buffalo Zoo Preschool are fully aware of the many changes happening in their environment such as falling leaves and changes in their colors, the change of weather, the plants in our garden wilting and drooping, the fall decorations everywhere, and the changes in animals’ behavior.
With our daily visit around the Zoo, we’ve been observing different animals as the weather starts to change. In particular, we saw two hens at the Heritage Farm named Millie and Carla molting a lot of their feathers! The children connected this experience to the leaves falling from trees. We assumed that although they are losing old feathers, they will eventually grow new ones. A good starting point for further investigations!
The children definitely have lots of questions (e.g. “Why do plants bend down?”; “Why do pumpkins come in many colors?”; “Is there a purple leaf?”), and so many ideas (e.g. “If we water plants, they stand up again”; “Let’s make a leaf rainbow!”). These questions and ideas help greatly in planning activities throughout the year.
On September 26 and 27, the Preschool class teamed up with the Erie 1 BOCES high school students who are a part of the Zoo Wildlife & Conservation Careers Program to harvest crops that were planted by our preschoolers last year at the Delta Sonic Heritage Farm. We discovered what each vegetable looked like, what tools to use for gardening, and how to properly collect them. In the end, we had a good amount of carrots, beets, kale, chamomile, chard, collard greens, green beans, broccoli, and mint. We took them back in the classroom, had fun washing them, and tasted some for snack time! We packed the rest to share with our family and pets, and especially with the animals here at the Zoo.
On September 28 and 29, we celebrated the beginning of the fall season and invited families and the Zoo community in the classroom. With the children’s appreciation of the fall decorations surrounding the Zoo, they grew an interest in making decorations for the classroom, too. The children worked hard collecting acorns, dry leaves and twigs, pine cones, hay, feathers, and sticks for the past weeks. They used play dough to stick the different parts together and were proud to show their scarecrow, trees, and pumpkin decorations to everyone.
We are so thankful to all the families and animal keepers who came and supported us in our first classroom event. The keepers were able to tell us about their animals and what vegetables they like to eat. The polar bears, lynx, tortoise, bunnies, parrots, and the rainforest animals will be enjoying our crops! The Preschool Fall Harvest event was a great kick-off to another great school year. We hope to see you in another meaningful community event as we try to build a better and responsive world for the children.