Tuesday, February 18, 2014

OHC: Winter Tree Silhouettes

We worked on our second Outdoor Hour Challenge last week: Winter Tree Silhouettes. We worked mostly from the original challenge, here.

I ended up buying Discover Nature in Winter for my Kindle, and I am glad that I did. There is a lot of information in it that I don't think I could easily find elsewhere. I do wish it were possible to get a reasonably priced hard-copy of this book. though; I much prefer real books to e-books. I guess I am just old-fashioned that way!

Here's what we did.

  • I read aloud the suggested pages from Discover Nature in Winter. We read about tree silhouettes, branch patterns, twigs, and more. 
  • We went outside and looked for interesting tree silhouettes. I took a few photos.

  • We looked for seed pods on our birch trees-there were tons of them! I never even really noticed or thought much about these before we read about them. We learned that they are called catkins. I love how the benefits of nature study last long beyond doing the actual "lesson". Ever since doing this study I have been noticing tree silhouettes every time I am outside, driving, or even just looking out of the window.

  • We spent some time looking at birch bark. I really love birch trees. We are fortunate to have quite a few of them on our property. 

We also took some twig samples indoors and used an illustration in Discovering Nature in Winter to identify the different parts of a twig. Then we put the twigs in water to see if they will do anything!

 I am hoping at least one of them will develop leaves. We have twigs from a sugar maple, an ornamental cherry, and a Japanese maple. At least, I think!

We did not actually get around to drawing tree silhouettes in our nature journals, which I had planned to do. Still, I think everyone learned something new, so I consider the morning a success, even though most of the children decided that it was more fun to play in the snow than to try to figure out the branching patterns of  trees!

 I have come to realize that I need to relax my ideals when it comes to things like nature study. The truth of the matter is that getting four kids outside and keeping them focused on a given topic is not easy. There are too many other siren calls to distract them. But I think a little bit goes a long way. Grace is usually quite interested, and we just do our thing while the younger kids flit in and out. It's hard for me, because I had visions of everyone eagerly participating, but perhaps that will come with time.

 We also did the Great Backyard Bird Count this past weekend.. By we, I mean mostly me, though Grace did help most days. The first three days we saw very few birds, but on the last day of the count we hit the jack-pot. We saw chickadees, goldfinches, cardinals, juncos, titmice, a white-throated sparrow, a red-breasted nuthatch, and a bluejay. I will enter our results this week, and we plan on participating again next year. 

Till next time!

1 comment:

  1. I too prefer real books. The Kindle is handy, but it just isn't the same! I really need to get my kids out doing nature studies.


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