Forest Preserve District of Cook County, Illinois
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School Trips in Autumn
Nature Bulletin No. 465-A   October 7, 1972
Forest Preserve District of Cook County
George W. Dunne, President
Roland F. Eisenbeis, Supt. of Conservation

Autumn is an ideal season for classrooms out-of-doors, when teachers and their pupils enjoy and learn from trips to convenient natural areas such as our forest preserves. The days are usually sunny, the air is cool and invigorating, the fields and woodlands are clothed with tapestries of rich colors, the birds are flocking southward, and it is harvest time in all the land.

Field trips, now or at any time in the school year, make real and vivid those subjects studied in the classroom and its textbooks. On field trips, teachers and youngsters explore and discover together. They employ all five senses: they see, hear, smell, taste and feel. Such learning, by the most natural and enjoyable process, is rapid and sticks with them. Inevitably, a field trip will yield a fund of unforgettable experiences and a wealth of specimens for the classroom or pupils' own collections.

The vivid hues and blended patterns of our autumn foliage are world famous. Pressed and dried between the pages of newspapers, autumn leaves hold their colors for years. In the forest preserves there are many wild fruits -- plums, crabapples, red haws, elderberries and wild grapes -- which may be used in jellies and preserves or eaten raw. There are walnuts, hickory nuts and hazelnuts. Acorns may be used in nature crafts or sprouted and allowed to grow in pots.

In the fields and woodlands there are many plants with seeds that have tiny hooks or sharp points and are hitchhikers that cling to the fur of animals and to woolly garments: burdock burs, begger lice, sticktights and Spanish needles. Take some back to the schoolroom and plant them, or make a labeled collection in cellophane envelopes. Such class room projects, utilizing the leaves, wildflowers, edible fruits, nuts, acorns and seeds available in autumn are described in "Natural Science Through the Seasons", by J. A. Partridge, and similar books which should be in school libraries for use by teachers.

Dozens of projects can be devised from materials collected during a trip in the preserves. A variety of small animal and plant life can be brought back in boxes or jars and enjoyed for weeks or months. Tadpoles, crayfish, snails, aquatic insects and water plants live well in gallon jars. A slab of moss, kept moist in a dish of water, will become a miniature garden.

Large yellow-and-black garden spiders, in screened boxes, will spin new webs if fed on flies, crickets and grasshoppers. Caterpillars such as the Woolly Bear, fed on the kinds of leaves they like, can be watched until they spin cocoons which, like those of other large moths, may be saved until next spring when the adults emerge.

If you possibly can, visit one of our nature centers where all of these and many other projects are on display. When planning an autumn field trip and for answering pupils' questions, we recommend that, from your files, you study the following nature bulletins issued in previous years:

No. 35 -- Seed Dispersal
No. 124 -- Jack Frost
No. 161 -- Edible Fall Fruits
No. 165 -- Spider Webs
No. 238 -- Autumn Insects
No. 314 -- The Woolly Bear
No. 418 -- Garden Spiders
No. 431 -- The Aster.

We need and will welcome your suggestions for later bulletins to be issued, seasonally, about field trips at other times of the year.

Wherever you look, there is something to see.

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