On the summer solstice this June the BPC Education Committee took advantage of the pending full moon to hold its first fairy house workshop in the field opposite Narragansett Boat House on River Road. About 60 parents and small children turned up to hear kindergarten teacher Nadine DiStefano talk about fairies, the “caregivers and healers” of nature. The audience listened raptly as she explained that fairies are shy and generally can’t be seen—“when you are in the woods and a leaf moves without wind, it’s a fairy.” Asked if they’d ever seen a fairy, two children raised their hands.
Children crouched down in front of a piece of driftwood to closely study five miniature houses created by Elena Riverstone, our resident artist, to show the children whatcould be done. Helped by retired kindergarten teacher Suzanne Renfro and others, the children selected “building materials” from trays of bark, acorns, fronds, pieces of slate, feathers, flowers, etc. Each child received a blob of play dough, a flat cardboard cutout designed to be folded it into a three-dimensional house, and tape. Then they spread out to waiting worktables to work their own magic.
Mary comes to the park sometimes with her mother and baby brother. Remembers coming once for a picnic when she was small and a seagull flew off with her sandwich and she had to share her mother’s.
Chloe Americorps teacher talking today about soil and geology, packs a lot into a little over an hour. Small turnout because of the cold—six—winter’s hard says April. Starting in the meadow on River Road, then up to a bare hillock on top, then farther along the trail toward York Pond—leaf litter—then down to Y Pond.
Kid (who?) takes notes for the group. With every lesson, Chloe says, “write it down.” Lessons slipped in about comparing data, about how much math is used in the course of a lesson.
Two kids hoping to go to the new Green School in (Greenwich) – heavy emphasis on science.
Kids relaxed and focused – April says this is a terrific group.
1. Perc. test – timed
2. “Ribbon” test – clay – kneading; medium amount “mit explain why the water’s taking so long to perc. New word: “impermeable”, points out that grass slows down absorption
3. — – color – chart
4. 5-layered canister (no-d) called a “soil sister” with progressively fine screens– everybody gets to shake, boogying is encouraged and a couple of kids get into it. Then examine layers one by one – fairly large lumps on top – what does that look like: golf ball, deer poop; next, rabbit pellets; third and last
Replace the soil, pat down.
5. More conversation about why it is the way it is – wet. So weather needs to be considered.
Up top – another girl gets to use the …. – “I hit a rock! Maybe it’s gold!”Much more permeable. Cannister again – what do you observe? Write it down.
Same drill – replace soil, write down.
Slate and geol. Hammer of solid piece of iron.
Third spot – leaf litter – much more topsoil (remember it’s decayed matter), cf the spot before. This time the — pulls up top soil and part of the second layer, which is sandy. Debate about color – butterscotch or caramel
Fencing –teacher asks, Mary who’s just learned that PD and BPC built to protect soil raises her hand.
an opp. To talk about nutrients, roots, and erosion. Egrets below over the river.
Ruts, topsoil below
A group of volunteers from Citizens Bank–Harry Singh, Paul Hanley, Maria Fontana, Ryan Busby, and Paul Simpson—joined URI-certified Conservancy volunteers this spring to tackle the Japanese knotweed patch that is creeping into the woods at Irving Avenue and River Road and made short work of it. But we need to return every few weeks during the growing season to start taming the invasive plant, the Godzilla of the invasives.
Children got into the spirit of Lindsay Meehan’s musical storytelling on June 1st in a big turnout for the Conservancy’s first Music for Children event in the Blackstone Park Conservation District. “What a beautiful spot and what caring stewards,” was Lindsay’s comment. We hope she will return later this year.