Contents of this edition of the newsletter include:
5 fabulous articles related to different aspects of fish or pond study (4 from OHC participants)
July Study Grid and other printables
Fish Study: Trout – printable notebook page
Nature Study Spotlight Family
Recommended study links
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I post lots of photos on this blog of our adventures, gardening, and nature study. You can only imagine how many images I don’t share….perhaps thousands (30-40 a week adds up especially when you add in longer trips). I decided to share ten of those images that didn’t make the blog for your viewing enjoyment.
#1 This was from an amazing day at Yellowstone…totally unplanned and we were on half-speed since both my boys were really sick with some sort of sinus cold. We had planned a glorious day of hiking at Teton National Park, but since they were sick we altered plans and opted to drive the short distance up to Yellowstone and take a leisurely day and let things happen. Sometimes you just need to be flexible and this was one of those times. It was a great day with some great images… this was the same day we saw the grizzly bear and cubs driving back from Yellowstone to Jackson.
#2 Roosevelt Elk in Northern California are such majestic animals…very powerful. This photo reminds me of a great camping trip full of boy stuff, including lighthouses, long deserted beaches, crazy long hikes in the redwoods, and roasting monster size marshmallows over the campfire.
#3 The real story of hiking with boys is shown in this photo. How do they always find something to climb on, over, or through? This gate leads to a fantastic little spot that we discovered this year and have been back in just about every season, including January with about four feet of snow.
#4 There is not nearly enough time and space to share all my wildflower photos with you on this blog. These are along the roadside inside Yellowstone National Park. Honestly, if I didn’t always have boys waiting for me I could get stuck on just taking photos of flowers.
Prepare yourself for a different sort of image….
#5 Yep, this is one of my boys’ favorite images of all 2011. They spent quite some time posing this salmon head for a photo. Mr. A had his camera phone out and was snapping away before I even took any images. Gross but sort of cool when you examine it….I think it looks like a fossil. Later they found a really funny looking dead fish but I will spare you the images.
#6 You must click over to Flickr and look at this one really big…the texture of the feathers is awesome. Do you think I will ever learn to identify more kinds of ducks. Mallards are the only ones I can name for sure…something to work on in 2012.
#7 I planned on writing a post that included this image and sharing how much I HATE brussel sprouts although they are really quite interesting to look at. Who likes brussel sprouts anyway?
#8 This is a combo I am thinking about for my yard. Isn’t it pretty? Love the white of the birch and the yellow of the yarrow together.
#9 My daily friend who visits our feeder. There is a pair that sits on the utility wire across from our house and they make the most amazing sound when they fly….mourning doves are a great bird.
#10 This is what my family sees me doing a lot….gazing out the window at a variety of things, mostly birds.
If you would like to see my Flickr set with my favorite images from the blog from 2011…here you go:
NOTE: If the challenge is included an ebook, it is noted directly after the challenge. If you have an Ultimate Membership, you will be able to pull up the ebook and print any notebook pages, coloring pages, or other printables for your nature study.
The links above are Amazon affiliate links to resources I own and love.
We were able to experience two kinds of salmon and their spawning this autumn.
The Kokanee salmon are a land-locked species that live in the high mountain lake and then return to the creek of their birth for spawning.
This shallow creek is the perfect place for laying eggs in the gravel.
The fish come by the thousands, swimming and leaping around in the water as they make their way back up the creek from the lake.
The bears are around and we are warned to keep clear of them as they come for their autumn feast of salmon after the fish have spawned and then die.
Even though these are land-locked salmon, they still go through the same changes that their ocean cousins perform. Their colors change and their jaws and teeth become more prominent.
They wiggle a little dance to court the females and then fertilize her eggs. It is amazing to watch.
There are two bridges that you can watch the fish from and on this day there were quite a few nature lovers out there viewing the fish ritual.
The ducks, gulls, and eagles all depend on the salmon spawning for their autumn diet. We didn’t see any eagles on this day but the ducks were present.
They eat the freshly laid eggs if they get the chance.
Our second salmon observing opportunity came this past weekend at the American River above Sacramento. There is a fish hatchery below a dam where the salmon will make their way up the fish ladder.
Here is the ladder the salmon will leap up as they make their way to the hatchery. The officials were waiting until the next day to open the gate that ajoins the river to the ladder.
We were a little early but we were still able to observe the *huge* Chinook salmon waiting at the gate to climb up. They were actually jumping up out of the water and slamming into the metal gate. One sign says they can leap out of the water nine feet!
The Chinook are much larger than the Kokanee and we decided it was because they have a much longer migration journey. They travel round trip 2,000 miles from their birthplace, down the American River, through the Sacramento Delta and then out into the Pacific Ocean. Two or three years later, they make the return trip and end up at their birthplace again….changing from freshwater fish to saltwater fish and back again.
The hatchery we visited has a lovely visitor’s center to learn more about the cycle of life of the salmon.
Trout are filling the holding ponds of the hatchery at the moment. There are steelhead and rainbow trout to view. In a month or so the steelhead will start their journey up the fish ladder and we may take time to visit again.
We had an additional observation of the rainbow trout a few weeks ago at a local pond that they stock for the kids to fish in. They are such beautiful fish and very tasty too. (I’m surprised I didn’t encourage us all to taste test the salmon and the trout…next time.)
So for our Outdoor Hour Challenge we were able to compare two different species of salmon as well as the salmon to the trout.
Our favorite is still the Kokanee salmon in its wild habitat and its unique cycle of life.
Here is a nature journal entry I made a few years ago featuring this colorful amazing fish.
Inside Preparation Work:
Trout: Read pages 156-158 in the Handbook of Nature Study (Lesson 40). Much of this information seems outdated but if you Google search “trout fishing NAME OF YOUR STATE” you will probably find enough current information to fill in the gaps. Try to determine what kind of trout you have in your area: Rainbow, Brown, Cutthroat, Brook, Golden, or Lake. Here is some additional information on the Brook Trout (includes a video).
Salmon: There are no specific pages in the Handbook for the salmon but there is plenty of information online to use as part of this challenge. Here is a coloring book for the Pacific Salmon and Steelheadthat is excellent (this download link keep disappearing so do a Google search for it if you can’t get it from the link provided). You can print the entire book out and use it to pre-study salmon. Here is the Atlantic Salmon version. Make sure your child understands that the salmon lives part of its life in saltwater and part in fresh water.
Compare a Trout and a Salmon
Does it live in fresh water or salt water?
Size, color, shape, markings, placement of fins, eyes.
Where do they lay eggs, how is the nest made, and how are the eggs protected
Outdoor Hour Time:
This is the perfect time for a field trip to a fish hatchery in your local area. Google search “fish hatchery list YOUR STATE NAME”. This will usually give you at least one good lead to where you can visit to see fish up close. If you cannot find a hatchery to visit, ask someone you know who is a fisherman if they could bring you a fish to observe up close. As a last resort, visit a local pet shop or an aquarium and look at any fresh water fish.
Lots of choices for this challenge as part of your follow-up: Coloring book pages from above, the trout notebook page or the salmon notebook page in the Autumn ebook, a blank page in your nature journal, or the Venn Diagram activity suggested above. There is also a Salmon Life Cycle notebook page in the ebook. Have your child narrate what they learned from this challenge and help them write about it in their nature journal or on their notebook page.
We took a long walk today to enjoy the last of the hot afternoons…we know they will be coming to an end soon. Here are a few things I want to share from our day.
This is a sure sign that autumn is coming quickly. The aspens are beginning to change color and the wind makes them shimmer and shake.
The Kokanee salmon are spawning and their green and red color is brilliant in the clear creek water.
The creek is very shallow and the salmon come here to lay their eggs and die. This becomes a habitat for eagles and bears and ducks this time of year. Can you guess why?
If you click this photo it will enlarge and you will see the outline of a bear at the bottom of the photo among the trees. She was on the other side of the creek sharing a salmon with her baby. We gave her a lot of space and the few of us that were there snapped a few photos and left her in peace.
The whole afternoon was picture postcard perfect.
The Pussy Paws are golden and the Rabbitbrush is golden and the pines are green and the sky is blue……where are my paints?
This was a great afternoon and I feel so refreshed.
It was a pond study day for our family and we enjoyed spending some time at Grandpa’s house poking around in his pond. His pond is very low at the moment so it was easy to scoop up a tub of fish to observe.
We have been using a new critter habitat that has made our pond study so much more enjoyable. We also purchased a new net to do the actual collecting of samples and it has made a big difference in our success in catching these little guys as well as snails and aquatic insects.
My son loves to incorporate humor into his nature journal entries and since I consider the entries to be his own, I don’t say much about it. Actually, in creating the humorous illustration he is demonstrating his understanding of the web of life that exists in a pond ecosystem. How can I argue with that?
He did observe some dragonflies at the pond and he made this journal entry for his nature notebook.
Later on that day at our home, we found this damselfly in the backyard. We think it is a California Spreadwing but there appeared to be something wrong with this particular insect. I don’t know if it was old or if it had some other issue but it never did fly away.
If you haven’t had a chance before, read over the section in the Handbook of Nature Study on fish. The study of any fish can be done using the observation suggestions on pages 147 and 148.
“Almost any of the fishes found in a brook or pond may be kept in an aquarium for a few days of observation in the schoolroom. A large water pail or a bucket does very well if there is no glass aquarium. ” Handbook of Nature Study, page 145
We will be taking a few more trips to the pond before the season is over. Boys and ponds….water and mud….just can’t beat the combination.
Here is the book we like to take along with us when we go to the pond. It has a little bit of everything discussed and so far it has been easy to identify the things we find at our pond. It is also a small pocket sized book that easily fits into your pocket or backpack.
Yesterday we took another shot at finding some eagles to watch. We have an eagle habitat about 45 minutes from our house, near a salmon spawning creek. We went up there a few weeks ago to watch the salmon and we thought we saw an eagle circling overhead, up over the pines. Of course we hadn’t brought our binoculars along on that trip so we weren’t sure if it was eagle.
The dead tree in the distance along with the green trees has a nest in the top. Click the photo to make it larger and then you will see in the tree that looks dead a sort of platform nest on the top of it. Eagles nests are huge when they are being used.
This time we went back with binoculars in hand to see if we could spot him again. We didn’t. We did see a nest in the distance. We did see an snowy egret or egretta thula, some Canadian Geese, and several varieties of ducks.
This is really a hard photo to see the snowy egret but he is the white dot in the brown tree in the middle of the photo…..click the photo to make it larger. They are normally down by the water but this one kept flying up into the trees.
Spawning salmon-click the photo to make it larger and you will see the beautiful color of the spawning Kokanee salmon Thousands of salmon all trying to get upstream to spawn…so colorful.
The highlight of the day was watching the Kokanee salmon spawning in Taylor Creek. There were hundreds and hundreds of these brightly colored salmon, all making there way up the creek to spawn and die at the end of their life cycle.
There was nothing in the Handbook of Nature Study about eagles…not a common bird for most. I will look further into the bird section of the book in the spring when we are focusing on birds.
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