2017-01-26 / Life in Leelanau

Suttons Bay brings Mother Nature inside

By Amy Hubbell
Of The Enterprise staff


SUTTONS BAY fifth graders have been watching and identifying birds in the new elementary nature room organized by volunteer coordinator Jan Ostrowski. SUTTONS BAY fifth graders have been watching and identifying birds in the new elementary nature room organized by volunteer coordinator Jan Ostrowski. The outdoors has been brought indoors at Suttons Bay Elementary School.

Community volunteer Jan Ostrowski has assembled a “nature room” in the elementary area of the school where students can learn about the world around them.

“The kids seem to really be enjoying their time in the room,” said Ostrowski, who gave a presentation on the program Monday to the Suttons Bay Board of Education.

The nature room is used by pre-K through middle school classes and offers students an opportunity to learn more about the environment.

Ostrowski offered a similar program as a “special” activity at the school from 1996 through 2008.

It features displays of animal pelts, mounted birds and dormant hornets nests and hands-on activities using field guides, kinetic sand and microscopes for a closer look at materials.

In addition, there is a “campfire circle” sitting area with a reading tent, and a wooden puppet theater with animal puppets.

There’s also been a lot of activity at the birdfeeder placed outside the classroom where students observe and identify feathered friends.

Ostrowski has taken students outdoors in search of lichen nearby and would also like to help them explore environmental destinations such as the Leelanau Trail, Herman Park, Leo Creek Preserve, Ruby Ellen Farm, Leelanau Conservancy lands and the Inland Seas Education Association.

“I try to make everything centered on Suttons Bay,” she said.

Ostrowski offers monthly programs on science topics that correlate with the Michigan Grade Level Content Expectations.

Funding for the nature room has been provided by the Suttons Bay Educational Foundation, Suttons Bay-Bingham Endowment, Suttons Bay Parent-Teacher Organization and the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa & Chippewa Indians.

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