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CVH Animal Sanctuary Lessons In And Out Of The Classroom At Middle Gate



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UPDATE: The Sunday at the Sanctuary event originally scheduled for October 29 has been canceled due to anticipated weather, according to an update on the CVH Foundation's website. The event is scheduled for November 26.next Sunday at the Sanctuary

Catherine Violet Hubbard (CVH) Animal Sanctuary Education Director Henryk Teraszkiewicz made it "rain" at Middle Gate Elementary School on October 16 as part of a lesson about trees with first graders in teacher Chandra Salvatore's class.

Mr Teraszkiewicz explained later that the CVH Foundation offers lessons monthly in the local elementary schools that are inspired by that month's Sunday at the Sanctuary event theme. The theme for the upcoming Sunday at the Sanctuary, scheduled for this Sunday, October 29, is "Not So Spooky Anymore!"

and click on Events.According to the CVH Foundation, the October 29 Sunday at the Sanctuary will offer opportunities like exploring dead trees for "creepy crawlies," lessons about bats, going on a scavenger hunt, crafting leaf art while enjoying tasty treats and beverages; and the first 20 registrants (one per family) will build and keep a bat house. Horizon Wings, a nonprofit Wildlife Rehabilitation Center specializing in birds of prey, will be on hand for a live owl presentation. The event is free and open to all ages. To register for September's "Sunday at the Sanctuary" visit


Mr Teraszkiewicz's presentation at Middle Gate began in the school's science room. With students seated around him in a circle, he shared information about the sanctuary.

"We teach about animals and nature, and we talk to people about how to keep all of that safe," said Mr Teraszkiewicz.

He told the first graders they would be talking about the world's biggest plants, and one student guessed, "Trees!" He explained the lesson would start in the science room then the class would go outside with him for a hike, when they would look for different leaves and insects.

First grader Caleb Green helped Mr Teraszkiewicz with the first lesson. As Mr Teraszkiewicz brought out pieces of a tree costume for Caleb to wear, he explained what the different parts of a tree do and how trees are similar to humans. Like humans, he said, trees drink, except the "mouths" are the roots, where feet are on humans. From a bag he pulled out a pair of large sponges that he said he had cut and decorated to look like roots. He chose sponges, "so they can soak up water, just like roots."

Caleb went on to wear an apron with a tree bark design on it, and Mr Teraszkiewicz gave him an umbrella decorated with images of leaves to hold. When Caleb was set up like a tree, Mr Teraszkiewicz used a watering can to pretend it was raining, showing how water flows to the bottom of the tree, where the roots soak it up.

The students giggled as water pooled on a tarp on the classroom's floor.

Once outside, Mr Teraszkiewicz pointed to a tall tree near the start of a trail in the woods. He asked the students what color the leaves of the oak tree were. Students guessed a range of colors, from green and red to orange. Some of the first graders were surprised when Mr Teraszkiewicz told them it was a red oak tree, and its leaves show their true red color in the autumn, when chlorophyll no longer makes the leaves appear green.

Mr Teraszkiewicz led a number of activities while the class was outside, including identifying leaves from different trees and looking for insects under dead tree branches by gently rolling the branches to find the critters, before gently replacing them to their original location.

Mr Teraszkiewicz warned the students not to walk where they had rolled a tree limb, because they could harm the critters living under the protection of the wood.

Students worked in pairs to look for leaves. Some found leaves quickly on the floor of the woods, while others scanned the tops of the trees above. As they identified different leaves, the students returned to Mr Teraszkiewicz and showed him each of the tree species they had discovered in the woods behind Middle Gate.

Henryk Teraszkiewicz holds examples of sassafras tree leaves to show Middle Gate students the different shapes that leaves can have. (Bee Photo, Hallabeck)
Catherine Violet Hubbard (CVH) Animal Sanctuary Education Director Henryk Teraszkiewicz pours water over Middle Gate student Caleb Green to show how rain water is soaked up be the roots of trees. Caleb was dressed as a tree for the demonstration, complete with sponges in the shape of tree roots on his feet. (Bee Photo, Hallabeck)
Ava Harrington and Lola Ventura hold a sheet with images of leaves they used to find matching samples in the woods behind Middle Gate. (Bee Photo, Hallabeck)
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