Murphy Creek

The Simple Life – Murphy Creek visits Plains Conservation Center

September 23, 2016

It sure seems that our lifestyle in 2016 has become increasingly complicated. From wrestling with our GPS lead commutes to scheduling enough time for a much needed Netflix binge. Wouldn’t life be so much simpler if we lived in the old Pioneer days? The students of Murphy Creek were able to answer this question during Friday’s field trip to Plains Conservation Center ( PCC).

As pronghorn grazed in the distance and a hawk danced in the wind above, PCC magically took us back to when the Great Plains was the new world for those traveling West. Watching for prairie dog holes and rattlesnakes guides dressed in traditional pioneer dresses lead groups into the pioneer town.  Sod houses never looked so inviting!

Students migrated from structure to structure as they explored the simple machines that made life back then possible. “Where is the bathtub?” a dazed student murmured out the side of her mouth as the class looked around for common-day objects that looked surprisingly different back then. The bathtub was then brought to her attention as the guide pulled out a tin bucket that was hardly big enough for the student to sit in. Wide eyed, the students quickly realized life wasn’t so simple back then as they had imagined.

Over the hill beyond the pioneer settlement, tipis towered atop the horizon. Wild horses graced the fluttering canvas as dust swirled around the Cheyenne camp. Students happily ducked their heads into the tipi, escaping the wind that pummeled across the plains. Inside, they paid homage to the incredible bison scattered within this shelter. The Cheyenne used its horns as a spoon, its bladder to hold water, and even its fat as hair gel. Fur gave the people warmth and the hide gave them music, stretched into an instrument that students cheerfully drummed.

After investigating various tools and relics, the students reemerged onto the plains to experience the process of tipi building. Gusts of wind howled through the group. Students shielded their eyes as they erected the posts and sprinted away when air ripped the canvas from their fingers. In mere minutes, they truly realized how difficult life on the plains had been.

With teamwork and perseverance, the tipi was built. The students smiled and cheered as they shuffled inside the small structure. The work was done, and it was time for games! Students lined up at a simple pile of sticks. From the side, the adults tossed wooden loops across the field. Everyone laughed as students attempted to throw the sticks through the loops, shouting with excitement if any sort of contact was made. The game, of course, was not just for fun. It was a way for Cheyenne children to practice spear hunting skills from an early age.

Despite the challenges of less-than-ideal weather, spirits soared this day on the plains. Thank you, Plains Conservation Center, for a fantastic field trip!


Home Sweet Habitat at Castlewood Canyon State Park

August 25, 2016

Through trees and along the stream, Murphy Creek SOLE students explored the different types of habitats found in the park.


As the sun shone through a blue sky, Murphy Creek students bounded out of their buses for our first SOLE field trip of the year. Turkey vultures inquisitively watched from above while lizards scurried into their homes. A red-tailed hawk soared overhead and insects chirped amidst the shrubs.

What makes Castlewood Canyon State Park great habitat for these animals? Volunteer naturalists distributed picture cards with an array of creatures: skunks, birds, bat, deer, bees, and more. Then it was off for a hike!

Through trees and along streams, in caves and atop rocks, the students explored many different habitats within the park. Using the information from their cards, they investigated what certain animals need to live and what areas they might prefer… They even discovered a tiny toad along the way!

Thank you to Castlewood Canyon and Murphy Creek teachers for helping to make this field trip happen. What a great way to kick off the SOLE season!