Posted on Leave a comment

Summer Tree Study – Following Up on Cottonwoods

This week we were determined to complete our Cottonwood Tree Study as part of the Outdoor Hour Challenge. It is hard to get motivated when it is really hot outside but we persevered….most of our study was indoors anyway so we had no real excuse. Once we started it was very enjoyable, gleaning much from our reading in the Handbook of Nature Study and then direct observation.

Our neighbor had a cottonwood tree in their front yard until a few years ago when they cut it down to make room for some other landscaping. I remember there were certain times of years I did enjoy having that tree next door. It was MESSY. The “cotton” would cover our deck and yard as it blew over in our direction.

So without a specimen nearby, we had to travel across town to view another cottonwood tree that I noticed along the edge of a big field. It really is a very pretty tree with a nice shape and growing sort of tall. The trunk is easy to recognize once you know what to look for.

We had the chance to observe a cottonwood tree when we visited Anna Comstock’s cabin in New York last May. I gathered a bit of cotton to include in my nature journal. I wrapped it up in a paper towel and folded into the front of my journal for safe keeping. We took the opportunity with this challenge to examine the cotton closely.

cottonwood june 2012 (1)
We examined the seeds with our magnifying lens and it was truly amazing to see the structure of this catkin with its seeds.

“The little pointed pods open into two or more valves and set free the seeds, which are provided with a fluff of pappus to sail them off on the breeze; so many of the seeds develop that every object in the neighborhood is covered with their fuzz…” Handbook of Nature Study, page 656

Pappus was a new word to us so we looked it up. A pappus is the flower-like structure on the top of the akene. (Remember your dandelion study?) You can see a variety of kinds of pappus on this website: Who’s Your Pappus? I also found information at the bottom of this page on Backyard Nature. I need to add the word to my journal entry so I don’t forget it.
Cottonwood nature journal

So here is my journal after I finished with it. I found an envelope (glassine envelopes for scrapbooks) for the cottonwood seed fluff sample and the pressed flower that I had collected from the woods. I watercolored around the edges to give it some color and used my metallic gel pens to make a title. I printed a photo of the cottonwood cotton since it is a part of the memory of that early morning walk that I will treasure for a long time to come.

We are going to go back to our local cottonwood tree and take photos for the Summer Photo Challenge and as a guide for our watercolor project for the week.  Mr. B is working on his notebook page from the More Nature Study Book 4 challenge using his field guide for the cottonwood tree. We think ours is a Black Cottonwood so he is doing the research on that species for his challenge.

Another great tree challenge to add to our nature journals…hope to see some of your trees in the upcoming Outdoor Hour Challenge Blog Carnival. Remember that every entry into the June Newsletter carnival is an entry to win the Your Backyard Monarch Butterfly DVD and Study Guide. Last day to submit your entries is June 29, 2012.
OHC Blog Carnival
Don’t forget the Great American Backyard Campout!
And my Camping With Kids link-up from yesterday.

Posted on 2 Comments

More Nature Study Ebook Bundle

More Nature Study Bundle Button - Square
Now you can purchase the More Nature Study Ebook Series as a bundle!
Special Discounted Bundle Price of $29.99.

Ebooks included
More Nature Study—Autumn 2011
More Nature Study Book 2 —Winter 2012
More Nature Study Book 3—Spring 2012
More Nature Study Book 4—Summer Sizzle (2012)

More Nature Study CoverMore Nature Study Book 2 Winter Wonder cover
More Nature Study Book 3 Cover imageMore Nature Study #4 Cover image

Special Bundle Price of $29.99
Please note that I send the links within 24 hours of purchase to the email address associated with the Paypal account.

Complete list of topics included in all four ebooks in this bundle:

  • Buttercups and poppies
  • Chickadee
  • Chipmunks
  • Cottonwood
  • Daisy, aster, and black-eyed susans
  • Dogwood
  • Ferns
  • Gall dwellers
  • Goats
  • Granite
  • House sparrow
  • Hummingbirds
  • Iris
  • Leaf-Miners and leaf-rollers
  • Leaf study
  • Magnets and compass
  • Maples
  • Milkweed
  • Monarch butterfly
  • Moon
  • Mouse
  • Mullein
  • Pansies
  • Pears
  • Quartz
  • Robin
  • Sand and soil
  • Sheep
  • Snails
  • Thistles
  • Tree—Buds, catkins, blossoms. Twigs.
  • Turtles and pondweed
  • Vines-Sweet peas, dodder, hedge bindweed
  • Weather—spring, winter, fall color, summer
  • Webs
  • Yellow jackets and mud daubers

Posted on 1 Comment

More Nature Study Book 4 Summer Sizzle – Outdoor Hour Challenge

More Nature Study #4 Cover image
More Nature Study Book #4 – Summer Sizzle is the last ebook in the More Nature Study ebook series. This completes the cycle of seasons using the Handbook of Nature Study with options for more advanced study of the world in your own backyard. Families have found it easy to offer nature study from their youngest to their oldest children using this series of nature study plans. My own family has greatly enjoyed having the options to bump up the simple plans to a more in-depth study when we came across a topic that interested us.

The challenges in More Nature Study Book #4 cover a variety of topics and I have done my very best to allow for differences in habitat and availability of subjects. You will always be able to adapt each specific challenge to fit a broad range within that topic. For example, when the topic is the Cottonwood Tree, I give suggestions for choosing another summer tree in your own neighborhood if you do not have a Cottonwood to observe up close.

I know summer nature study tends to be more relaxed so I have included simple follow-up activity options that will enhance and support your outdoor time. When you study the Cottonwood, one of the suggestions is to eat a snack or meal in the shade of a backyard tree. The rock study encourages you to complete some simple follow-up projects using rocks. You are going to find the challenges in the More Nature Study Book #4 a wonderful supplement to many of your family’s outdoor activities.

The challenges in this ebook will be posting on the Handbook of Nature Study blog starting on June 8, 2012. They will continue for ten weeks and finish on August 10, 2012. Of course, you are welcome to complete the challenges in any order and then submit your blog entries to the Outdoor Hour Challenge Blog Carnival. See the Blog Carnival button on the sidebar of my blog.

Outdoor Hour Challenge: 
More Nature Study Ebook #4 – Summer 2012
Summer Sizzle

  • Ten challenges using the Handbook of Nature Study. See a list of topics and a Sample Challenge.
  • 15 regular notebook pages and 12 coloring pages
  • 18 additional upper level notebook pages for advanced or experienced students
  • 10 Charlotte Mason style exam questions
  • Complete list of supplies needed (nothing fancy or expensive)
  • Detailed instructions for each challenge, with links (including YouTube videos) and printables
  • Nature journal suggestions and examples
  • Special Bonus Features! Summer Photo Challenge and Summer Sunflower Grid Study!
  • All the challenges will coordinate with the June through August 2012 Outdoor Hour Challenge Newsletters
  • Alternate ideas to adapt the challenges to your local area
  • 73 pages