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Elise and a day in the woods

“Hurry up!” shouts Elise, while riding her bike to kindergarten with her mom. “I can’t be late.” “Don’t worry, we’ll be right on time. Promise!” her mom calls after her. But Elise pedals even faster: her kindergarten class is taking a trip into the woods today, and Elise is really looking forward to it, especially because the children will meet her dad there. He’s a forester and promised to explain everything about the trees and animals to the children.

When Elise arrives, the children in her class are gathering in the courtyard. “Good morning, children. Please pair up in twos – we’ll be leaving in five minutes!” says Nina the teacher. Elise hops to the end of the row. Imke and Mali are standing in front of her. Matze and Felicitas are further towards the front. Milla is also there and helps a little girl zip up her jacket. Then somebody pulls on Elise’s sleeve. “Can I come with you?” asks Lilli, who has also just arrived. “Sure!” answers Elise, and holds Lilli’s hand.
The children walk with the teachers Nina and Saskia to the bus stop. The bus ride to the edge of town is exciting, because there is stuff going on everywhere. They pass a construction site with big bulldozers and see an ambulance. Then they arrive and get off of the bus. Now the children just need to take a short walk to meet Elise’s dad, who is waiting for them at the edge of the woods.

“Hi, kids!” he greets the group. “Are you dressed right? Warm jackets, boots and long pants?” The children nod. “You know, when you go walking in the woods, you need weatherproof clothes.” “Do you spend the whole day in the woods?” asks Felicitas. “No, I also work at a desk in our forestry office. I need to write letters and reports, and I make lists and plans. It’s part of my job as a forester, but it’s of course not that exciting. But I also spend a lot of time in the woods. Let’s get going and I’ll tell you about all the things a forester does while we’re walking.”

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And so they go marching off. The paths leads them between tall trees. “Perk up your ears,” says Nina to the children. “Can you hear the birds chirping?” The children listen. Suddenly a different, rather loud noise can be heard. “Those are our forest workers, they’re cutting down a couple of trees,” explains Elise’s dad. “It’s an important part of my job: I organize all the work in the woods, for example, which trees will be felled and where new trees will be planted. I also check whether the paths in the woods are OK. A healthy forest is important for our environment because trees provide us with good air.” Soon the children can also see the forest workers. They are wearing protective clothing in bright colors.

The group walks a little further, then they reach a clearing. There’s a small hut there with benches and a table in the middle. “Time for breakfast break!” says Saskia and helps the children open their backpacks. “Why are the trees cut down?” asks Milla. “The wood from the trees is an important raw material,” explains Elise’s dad. “It’s used for building, and also for toys or heating. Lots of different trees grow here. There are conifers like spruces, pines and firs. Beeches, oaks and several birches also grow here in the woods. Those are easy to recognize, they have white and black bark. You can recognize a birch by its gray bark. Now that it’s fall the leaves are colored a bit red.”

“After you’ve eaten you can explore the clearing and collect different leaves and branches laying on the ground. See if you can find something interesting,” says Nina to the children. They all storm off right away. “Look, Elise,” says Lilli, “there are a couple of small birch trees over there, right?” “That’s right,” she answers, “and that’s an oak.” Elise points to a tree next to them and picks a few acorns up from the ground. “I especially like the little hats on the acorns. They’re really smooth on the inside,” she says to Lilli. They find other little hats: the beechnuts have some soft fluff on the inside and are rough and kind of bristly on the outside.

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The kids all gather around a little later and spread their forest treasures out. Matze and Felicitas have gathered huge branches and pulled them to the picnic area together. They are both really dirty, but they grin from ear to ear. Milla, Mali and Imke have found lots of different pinecones and branches from conifers. Lilli and Elise show the acorns and beechnuts. “The fruits and seeds from the trees are important for the animals living here in the woods,” explains Elise’s dad. “I even saw a fox once,” says Elise. “But Dad and I were walking in the woods early in the morning then.” “That’s right!” says her dad. “Foxes as well as boars, does and deer are shy animals that you will only see when it’s really quiet in the woods. You rarely see small forest animals like badgers, martens, mice and wild rabbits. But I’ll show you a wild rabbit burrow on the way back.” Imke and Lilli are thrilled, because they are both especially fond of rabbits. “You might see a squirrel if you pay attention. And of course there are also birds and lots of insects living here: beetles, ants, spiders and lots more.”

The group starts heading back. And they really do pass a big anthill and then the wild rabbit burrow. The earth in front of the hole is all dug up and you can see small paw prints if you look closely enough. At least Imke and Lilli think you can. “Nonsense!” says Matze. “I don’t see any prints. You could see dinosaur prints, but not from a small rabbit.” “Ssshhh, look up there,” whispers Elise’s dad suddenly and points upwards. The children lift their heads and see a squirrel with a bushy tail run along a long branch. It hops to the tree trunk, hurries up it and quickly disappears. “Too bad,” says Mali, “I would have liked to watch it longer. Maybe squirrels are my new favorite animal now.” “Yeah!” confirms Lilly, “squirrels are much better than dumb dinosaurs. They don’t even have any fur.” Even Matze has to laugh: dinosaurs with fur is a really funny idea. Giggling, the children return to the bus stop. They can barely wait until their next trip out into the woods. “Who knows,” says Imke, “maybe we’ll see a wild rabbit next time!”

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Woods discovery sheet

You can see lots of things, hear interesting noises and collect all kinds of interesting objects: leaves, branches, stones, pinecones and acorns. How many different kinds of leaves can you find? And: what animals did you see? It’s really easy to record what happened with the downloadable discovery sheet. Mom or Dad will be happy to help you write down where you went. Then you can fill in, check, glue or draw the rest yourself.

We hope you have lots of fun and find interesting things!

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