Greetings from Gourd Land!

image courtesy of photobucket.com

One of the great things about not having a 9 to 5 job is that I’m usually available to volunteer for school activities. Don’t get me wrong, I won’t be winning any PTA volunteer of the year awards, although where I live the competition is pretty fierce. Me? I stick to helping out on field trips and making sets for school musicals.

One of the often frequented field trip destinations for elementary school age children is a place owned by the school district known as the Outdoor Learning Center. Here’s a brief description from the website:

The Outdoor Learning Center is nestled on 35-acres of land kept in its natural state. The OLC is a place where plants and animals live and grow and where science and social studies lessons spring to life as students at all grade levels participate in hands-on activities….

The school district is currently expanding the services and classroom experiences offered at the OLC. A living history classroom has been added where teachers and students participate in interactive lessons, and in the science classroom, students explore and discover native plants and animals.

My daughter’s 4th grade class visited both the living history classroom and the science classroom yesterday. I was assigned to one of the ten learning stations in the science classroom:

  • Station 1: Seeds
  • Station 2: Gourds
  • Station 3: Arthropods
  • Station 4: Animal Teeth
  • Station 5: Butterflies and Moths
  • Station 6: Fossils
  • Station 7: Birds
  • Station 8: Vines
  • Station 9: Reptiles/Amphibians
  • Station 10: Mammals

Yeah…my station? Station 2: Gourds. Which I suppose is a step up in the excitement category from Seeds or Vines, but notice how the stations are arranged. The room is a large rectangle. The kids, in groups of two, were assigned 5 minutes per station then moved around to the next station. So the kids who had just come from a table full of taxidermy animals and fur pelts got to come to me next. For whatever reason, the kids did not stop at Station 1: Seeds, or Station 3: Arthropods. I was, however, giving my fascinating 5 minute talk about the wonderful world of gourds while standing next to a tank full of angry crawfish and another tank full of African Clawed Frogs.

So yeah, that wasn’t at all distracting. And since Station 10 was right next to my station, some of the stuff that wouldn’t fit on the mammal table was on a shelf above the angry crawfish:


Oh, and did I mention that one of the frogs was about to give birth?

And that another one wasn’t actually from Africa but straight from the bowels of hell?

This frog started at me the entire time.

As you can well imagine, the children were riveted as I explained that gourds were originally from Africa and were carried by heavy rains into rivers and later oceans to eventually reach all parts of the world; that pumpkins, cucumbers, cantaloupes and other melons were considered gourds, and that there were many uses for the hollow, durable wood-like gourds that were on display.

I could tell they were fascinated by my station, because they asked thoughtful questions like,

“What’s a gourd?”

and

“Is that white frog dead or what?”

Okay, not really. The kids were actually pretty great. Especially after I told them it would take me roughly 3 minutes to talk about gourds, after which time they could look at the frogs and further provoke the angry crawfish…

So, what’d you do yesterday?

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16 Responses to “Greetings from Gourd Land!”

  1. Wendy January 21, 2011 at 12:24 am #

    So…was the white frog dead? Or what?

    • katdish January 21, 2011 at 4:14 pm #

      It was only mostly dead.

  2. kelybreez January 21, 2011 at 12:27 am #

    What did I do today, you ask?

    I innocently worked in some things I needed to finish, right up until the time this weird gourd lady sent me skittering underneath my bed to hide from the horrifying picture of White Frogra the Jugular Gnawing Amphiboid.

  3. karen January 21, 2011 at 3:57 am #

    I’ll tell you what’s freaky — Is that frog giving live birth grinning? Or is that it’s Zen state? Because I can tell you anybody dared to smile at me like that while birthing any of my four kids and I would have slapped ’em into their eternity.

  4. Maureen January 21, 2011 at 7:20 am #

    Your display looked great!

    One of my sisters makes incredible art from gourds. She recently bought up a pasture of them from a farmer (she lives in Georgia) because she has so many requests. Gourd art is hot!

    My favorite of your pictures was the armadillo. I liked how you turned him to get him in.

    • katdish January 21, 2011 at 4:15 pm #

      There was actually a giant pumpkin looking gourd on display. It was called “The traveling gourd”. Each place it went someone painted artwork on it. Very cool. Who knew gourds were so hip?

  5. Louise January 21, 2011 at 8:20 am #

    You and your gourds… crack me up!

    Yesterday — I saved the world. No really. Honest. I did! 🙂

    Okay. So not really. But I wanted to. Just got caught up in writing a report and putting out fires (metaphorically speaking) and solving crimes and all that jazz.

    I good day. No where near as exciting and relevant as yours. But a good day none-the-less. 🙂

  6. Amy Nabors January 21, 2011 at 9:02 am #

    Oh my. My day wasn’t nearly as exciting as yours. I love your sense of humor. I have never seen a stuffed armadillo. 🙂

  7. Candy January 21, 2011 at 9:05 am #

    I wish you’d have told me you were going to do this! I could have come down with my soup pot and apron (like (PCB) and served the little learners some butternut squash soup! Yes! Learn these kids! I’m sure right next to that frog, they would have great appetites – or else feared for frog legs at the next station.

    Is that Awesome Cat’s mama?

  8. Helen January 21, 2011 at 11:21 am #

    I’d have tried to grab a gourd and shake it like a maraca. I was such a good influence on my students when I taught. Snort. Really. I’d tell them on a field trip to “walk this way” and then do my best duck walk, fake scolding them if they didn’t duck walk, too…. Memories…..

  9. jasonS January 21, 2011 at 12:40 pm #

    Man, I’ve it up to here with those hell frogs. Creepy.

    Yesterday, I was stuck in the snow and at work. The rest is just as exciting. Sadly, no gourds to be found.

  10. Tony Alicea January 21, 2011 at 1:35 pm #

    Oh. my. gourd.

    You have one interesting life there, Kathy. I’m thankful for your iPhone camera.

  11. Nikole Hahn January 21, 2011 at 4:03 pm #

    LOL. I think I would have enjoyed that field trip. I would have asked where they got the cat.

  12. Hazel Moon January 21, 2011 at 5:45 pm #

    Field trips are so great for children. Even parents can learn a thing or two from these nature adventures. It is almost time her for our area to make the annual trip to Table Mountain where the wild flowers will soon be in bloom. So beautiful.

  13. A Simple Country Girl January 21, 2011 at 11:37 pm #

    For the life of me I cannot recall what I did yesterday, but today I helped with 29 K-5th graders on our local ski mountain. The group I got? Newbies. Never been on skis before. Couldn’t even carry their skis, let alone move down the mountain affixed to skis. And the weather? Rain. Rain. Rain. A fun time was had by all. Really, it was.

    Hey, bring your gourds and we can go kid bowling on the ski mountain. 😉

    Blessings.

  14. Su January 22, 2011 at 2:12 am #

    I love trips like that for kids. So good for them to get to interact with such a wide variety of things! Are you creeped out from the staring frog? Maybe it was interested in the gourds, too.

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