Two weeks ago, our study of the endangered whooping crane finally ended. After the longest-ever fall migration (97 days, 1262 miles), the cranes finally reached their wintering grounds in Florida. For days, we'd been monitoring the Operation Migration field journal so we could plan our whooping crane celebration. The weather in Florida was favorable and the cranes made it to their second-to-last stopover site. It seemed that Monday, January 28th, they would fly their last 26 miles to the Chassohowitzka National Wildlife Refuge. That Sunday afternoon, I sent out an email to all to all the families, reminding the children to get their clothing and snacks ready. The kids arrived the next morning bursting with excitement and wearing all combinations of black, white and red - hats, scarves, hair ribbons and more. We planned for a black, white, and red whooper feast and although it was initially hard to come up with food in these colors (and ones that second graders would eat!), we ended up with more than we needed. There were chocolate cupcakes with whipped cream frosting and red sprinkles, black olives and white cheese, milk with chocolate syrup, oreo cookies, blueberries, black raspberries, strawberries and red apples. Before eating, however, we danced like whoopers in honor of the 17 chicks, the ultralight pilots, and ground crew who completed the long journey.
In summarizing this unit, two of my students wrote, "After the party we were so tired. We think the whooping cranes are pretty tired by now."
Here's to a restful winter in Florida. It won't be long before the young cranes get ready to make the spring journey back north, this time without their ultralight "parents."music credit: Groovin with Mr. G by Richard Groove Holmes from the compilation blue break beats, ©1991 EMI Records