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Frogs of the Sierra Nevadas and the Handbook of Nature Study

Handbook of Nature Study older edition (2)

I was given the opportunity to purchase a 1911 version of the Handbook of Nature Study….with all its well worn pages…all still intact and in very good shape. I jumped at the chance to have as a keepsake the volume in its original form. Thanks Anna Botsford Comstock for caring enough to write these lessons down for all of us that follow you.

Handbook of Nature Study older edition (1)

My new Handbook is very similar to the current version that I use but what makes it nice is the layout….only one column on a page, original clipart, diagrams, little extra references to books and brochures that probably no longer exist. The charm of this book is how it is still relevant today… hundred years later.

Frog in the Algae Pond 1
Frog Pond

We had the chance to visit Grandpa’s pond last week and since the weather has been so dry, the creek fed pond is getting a little low. There is still a spring underneath keeping it wet enough for the critters that depend on it for water. We were surprised to see all the frog heads with bulging eyes sticking up above the water. They really do blend in except if they move….the duck weed is thick on the top and it makes the frogs look like they have beards.

Frog Pond with Duck Weed
Where’s the frog?

You need to move slowly or they plop under the water very fast. I was able to zoom in and get a few images of the frog heads for us to look at on the computer screen. We consulted our favorite frog and toad website: California Frogs and Toads. We are fairly sure it is an American Bullfrog…. we are going back later this week and we will take our field guide to confirm the identification.

In the Handbook of Nature Study in lesson 47, the suggestions are all things that we would need to really spend some time investigating and perhaps even catching one and taking a closer look. We decided to narrow our study down to a few things:
#3 Describe the colors and markings of the frog on the upper and on the under side. How do these protect it from observations from above? below? How do we usually discover that we are in the vicinity of a frog?
#4 Describe the frog’s ears, eyes, nostrils, and mouth.
#6 How does the frog feel to your hand? Is it easy to hold him?

Those seem like logical questions to keep in mind when we go back again next week. We will update this entry when we answer the questions.

I look forward to seeing some of your pond studies or any other nature studies you have completed this month. Make sure to submit your entries to the Outdoor Hour Challenge Blog Carnival. You can submit your entries by following this LINK.

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Pond Study: Fish and Insects

Our Pond Study Fish and Insects @handbookofnaturestudy
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.

Outdoor Hour Challenge Getting Started Ebook @handbookofnaturestudy

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.

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Nature Study: Starting a Year-Long Tree Study (Late Summer)

Last Friday we spent some time over at my parents’ house down the road from our place. They have a great pond and we took the opportunity to do our nature study time there this week. As the days get shorter and the leaves begin to turn colors, I feel the need to fit in some time outdoors before the season slips away.

So we made ourselves a little “jilly jar” pond scooper (Amateur Naturalist page 146) and we dipped in to find lots of interesting things to examine. We found three little fish, a pond snail, a whirlygig beetle, and another unknown insect. My son caught a Pacific Tree frog in a jar and we took some time to look at him and enjoy his sweet little face.

  Jilly Jar pond study

Here are some of our nature journal entries for the day. We used our field guides to identify the critters we found and we even used our pond guide to identify the duckweed floating on top of the pond. We each picked a tree to identify and realized that our tree identification book wasn’t as thorough as we would like so we made a note to pick up a new one the next time we were at the book store.

Oak nature journal
My son picked an oak to sketch and he also made a leaf rubbing.

Pacific Tree Frogpond fish
Here are some more journal entries for the frog and the fish.

nature journal pond entry
The boys also did some exploring in the woods and found a great spot to stake out a place to come back and observe each month. They chose a place that has a tree and some stacked wood because they thought it might include a place that a critter may live. We shall have to see and we will share our results.

square study woods
If you look carefully you can see the purple yarn and tent stakes that we used to mark our square in the woods.

So that was some of our nature day from last week. I will list some of the books we used to get our ideas for the activities for the day so you can check your library for similar books. I absolutely adore the “One Small Square” series and this is the first time we used it for the pond study. I highly recommend this series to get you started with nature study.

Outdoor Hour Challenge Autumn Nature Study Ideas Index @handbookofnaturestudy

You can click the graphic above to see all of the autumn related nature study challenges here on the Handbook of Nature Study. Make sure to pin this challenge and the Autumn Index!