Flexibility is Key

One of the most important skills educators, especially outdoor educators, need to have is flexibility and a willingness to adapt to rapidly changing circumstances.  On October 18th, 2018 we had to put this skill into action. Both 5th grade classes from Kinsey Inquiry and Discovery School were scheduled for outings to the Arizona Trail on the San Francisco Peaks this week, but a drastic drop in temperature combined with a torrential 3 day downpour meant that an outdoor excursion was not possible.


No matter. When we can’t bring the students to the trail we do our best to bring the trail to the students. One of our goals for visiting the peaks was to learn to use a dichotomous key and identify the most common tree species of the mid altitude mixed conifer forest. Since the students couldn’t visit the forest itself, I brought boughs from the different trees to the classroom for them to examine and key out the best they could.


First we played the Shoe Game in which students classify and give creative latin sounding names to their shoes as they learn to get more and more specific in their taxonomic shoe classifications. Next they made their way through stations in the classroom using dichotomous keys to identify the samples I had brought. Once they identified it, they could make a leaf rubbing or draw a detailed picture in their journals.


While it wasn’t a perfect day, it was a perfect way to solve the weather challenges that drove us indoors. The Limber Pine knows how to be flexible and so do we!