What an exciting week the winter has brought us! The days are getting longer and brighter, but it seems to be colder and wintrier than ever. How does that work? During our Family Nature Play walk and talk with Greenwich Director of Conservation, Denise Savageau, on the first day of winter, we got to thinking about how oceans and bodies of water will hold heat and regulate temperatures. We also said we would think about, watch (and play!) with water molecules all winter. It is so important to notice and celebrate how water floats in the winter, allowing life to survive under the ice.
For the caregivers and teachers who walk with our mushrooms to ponder:
“There is something quite remarkable, simple, and yet profoundly important that happens when water turns to ice in a pond. Compare this with what transpires when water turns to ice in a cloud. In a cloud, the ice crystals fall because water and ice are heavier than air and the gas phase of water. However, water becomes lighter when it transforms from a liquid to a solid state. If this were otherwise, the ice crystals would sink as soon as they formed on the surface of a pond. Heat near the bottom of the water would at first continually melt the ice crystals coming down, but at some point temperatures near the bottom would reach 0’C and lower. The water would then freeze from the bottom up, rather than from the top down. The ecological consequence of this phenomenon would be that there would be no bodies of water in the the north. Sunshine in the summer would melt only the upper layers of ice, and any aspiring body of water would soon become a huge permafrosted ice lens.”
Our wondering about water this winter has certainly changed the way we look at our reflection pond. Luckily, last week we also got an excellent fresh coat of snow, and a few dedicated mushrooms were able to take a walk around the pond together, a little delayed due to weather, but we made some important discoveries that will guide our exploring tomorrow morning.
For the mushrooms. Do you remember last week when:
- We noticed several kinds of ice on top of the pond, puddles near the entrance, near a pipe.
- We saw different tracks in the snow, some that went across the snow and ice. We tried to make our own tiny tracks like little hopping birds, and even made giant leaps in the snow, like the deep strides of deer tracks all over the Pinetum! These are some of the deer I saw by the listening fountain in the Autumn. I wonder if those are the same ones making the tracks in the snow now?
- We were able to see the snow was not as deep under heavy branches, and then collected some fallen white pine needles to use as paintbrushes in the snow. We tried them out in the classroom with white paint on blue paper too.
- My favorite part was when we found a giant rock. The rock was so covered in snow that we barely recognized it, but a little dusting off and there it was! It was different climbing on this rock in snowy weather. The top was slippery, but the ground below was soft and fluffy to roll in. I love to see a favorite spot change with the weather, and to feel like you get to know a place so well, that even if it’s covered in snow, you know where you are.
We’re taking inspiration from our rock discovery. We’ll cover up several treasures in snow and ice and get to dig and melt them out, and continue our tracking adventures. Maybe we’ll see if we can try out some cardboard tracks. Let’s start outside in the snow kitchen, under the charter oak (behind the classroom), and when we get chilly, we can come inside to hide some treasures under our “snow” blanket, do some classroom chores like watering that moss table, and we can warm up with a story.
Bundle up again. Weather.gov for Cos Cob predicts:
A chance of light snow, mainly before 8am. Cloudy, with a high near 39. Wind chill values between 20 and 30. Light south wind becoming southwest 5 to 9 mph in the morning. Winds could gust as high as 21 mph. Chance of precipitation is 30%
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