Outdoor Hour Challenge:
This week we will be using the Mammal Study Grid from the November 2012 Newsletter. Print the grid out, cut it to include in your nature journal, and then take a few minutes during your week to complete some of the suggested activities. If you haven’t subscribed to the blog yet, you can do so now and you will receive the newsletter link in the next entry.
This week’s extra is a YouTube recording with a catchy little song about mammals.
If you don’t see the YouTube player you may need to click this link: Mammal Song.
Getting Started Suggestion:
If you already own this ebook, this week’s challenge wouldcorrespond nicely with Outdoor Hour Challenge #4.Start a focus study of mammals this month and see how many mammals you can find to learn more about in your local area. You can use the notebook page provided in the ebook for each mammal you study.
More Nature Study Book 3 Vine Study – Sweet peas, Hedge bindweed, and Dodder
Vines: Plants that have the habit of climbing upon other plants or upon sides of houses. Stems of vines are not strong enough to stand alone, seeking support to help get their leaves up into the life-giving sunlight. Some vines climb by twisting their stems around the support plant while others have special “holders” which are called tendrils.
Inside Preparation Work:
Read these pages in the Handbook of Nature Study to prepare you for this week’s challenge. 1. Sweet Pea: 588-590 (Lesson 164) *vines with tendrils. 2. Hedge Bindweed: 518-520 (Lesson 137) *twining vines. 3. The Dodder or Love Vine: 520-522 (Lesson 138) *tendrils with sucker.
If you would like to start your sweet peas from seed, follow the instructions in Lesson 164. This study could then continue into the summer months and end in a study of the sweet pea flower using Lesson 164.
Use your outdoor time for this challenge to explore your yard and neighborhood looking for vines of any kind. Don’t worry if you can’t find a sweet pea, dodder, or hedge bindweed but apply your knowledge and vocabulary to any vines you do find.
Make sure to observe closely how the vine climbs. If the vine is a twining vine, note which direction the vine wraps itself around the support plant. If the vine has tendrils, note their color, size, and direction.
Optional: Plant sweet pea or morning glory seeds for your own vines to observe over the next few months.
Follow up your outdoor time with the opportunity to record an entry in your nature journal with your vine observations. Ebook Users: You can use the vocabulary found on the chart in the ebook.
Advanced study: Research more vines and how they climb (How Plants Climb). Summarize your information in your nature journal.
Advanced study: Make your own time lapse video of a vine twining or using its tendrils.
If you planted sweet pea or morning glory seeds, continue to record their growth over the next few months in your nature journal.
More Nature Study Book #3 Winter Weeds – Mullein Study
Read in the Handbook of Nature Study pages 537-539 (Lesson 146). Share a few facts and the images with your children so they can be on the lookout for mullein in your area. The distinctive rosette growth, the velvety leaves, and the flower stalk make this plant an easy one to spot, even in winter. (Ebook users have images included in the book and others can use the videos and the links in the Follow-Up section to view mullein.)
Make sure to note that mullein is a biennial (takes two years to mature and produce seeds).
Optional: Watch this short YouTube video that gives you an idea of what a winter mullein looks like: Common Mullein. I also made my own mullein video from my garden: Mullein in Autumn.
Outdoor Hour Time:
Common mullein is found throughout the United States and Canada. During your outdoor time this week, try to find some common mullein to observe in its winter state. First year mullein will be look like green, soft, rosettes. Second year mullein will be the brown plant with the flower stalk. Observe how the leaves grow out between the two of the lower circle, that the upper leaves are smaller than those below, and that the upper leaves do not lie flat.
Observe the mullein plant, looking at ways it survives the winter cold, rain, and snow. Make note of the plant’s location and plan to revisit it over the next year in each season.
Alternate winter weed activity: Find and observe any winter weed in your neighborhood. Even if you have snow, see if you can find a part of a plant sticking up out of the snow and make some observations. You may want to click over and read my Winter Weeds challenge for additional ideas for your family.
Complete a follow-up nature journal entry or notebook page for your mullein observations. Ebook users choose from the Common Mullein or Winter Weed notebook pages.
Advanced follow-up: Research the mullein plant online and find how it is used its traditional, medicinal, and health uses. Try this LINK or this LINK (this one is excellent!). Ebook users: Complete a notebook page.
Advanced follow-up: Research annual, perennial, and biennial plants on Wikipedia. Ebook users: Complete the notebook page with a summary of the information and give examples of each kind of plant.
I told him he should make videos as a business since he is getting quite good at it. I think I watched this one about five times and I’m not tired of it yet. Something about having the photos and videos all linked together make it interesting.
Anyway, check it out….this one is only around two minutes long.
Andy Goldsworthy and his artwork have fascinated me ever since I first heard of him a few years ago. Many times when I am out and about on our hikes I wish I had the gumption to stop and create a little art myself with my kids. Here is a video to spark some interest and hopefully create a desire for you to create a little artwork of your own.
Here is alonger video but worth the visual treat….it has music so be prepared.
Sight: Look for grasshoppers, katydids, and crickets in your yard. Observe them with a hand lens. Look at a grasshopper jump.
Hearing: Listen for the chirping of a cricket or katydids and see if you can follow the direction.
Inside Preparation Work:
1.Read in the Handbook of Nature Study pages 338-350 (Lessons 80-82). This a lot of information so you might want to break this challenge up over several weeks so you can read, choose some of the suggestions for observation, spend your time outdoors, and then move onto the next insect.
Most of us have heard crickets in the evenings and children will be very interested to learn more about these insects that play music with their legs for us to enjoy. Here is a link to a YouTube.com video that shows what a cricket looks like when he is singing: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8E6q9W8Ur2k
2. Read in Discover Nature at Sundown pages 174-188. There are many suggestions for exploring the hopper’s world and you may wish to choose one or two to try with your family. You can collect a grasshopper and keep it for a few hours to observe it up close. Use your hand lens to complete the “Closer Look” activity on page 183.
Outdoor Hour Time:
Try to spend some of your outdoor time in the evening air. Our family likes to sit on our deck and watch as the stars come out after sunset. This is a perfect activity to couple with listening for crickets because it is just about at the same time that you will begin to hear crickets singing their evening songs. You can also spend fifteen minutes looking for grasshoppers or crickets in your yard or a near-by park. This challenge can be split up into two weeks if you want to really study each insect.
After your observations and outdoor time, have your child tell you some of the things he remembers about the nature study. After you have your outdoor time, provide an opportunity for working on a nature journal entry. Use the Handbook of Nature Study or a library book to find an illustration or photo of an actual cricket to draw in your journal. Have your child label the entry with a title, the date, and the place that you made your observation. Parents can always help the child with this part if needed.
There are also coloring pages included in the Summer Series ebook for the cricket, the grasshopper, and the katydid.
If you would like all the Summer Series Challenges in one place, I have an ebook gathered for you to purchase for your convenience. Here is a link to a complete description: Summer Series of Outdoor Hour Challenges
Outdoor Hour Challenge
Spring Series #10Insect Study-Ants
Inside Preparation Work:
Read pages 294-300 in the Handbook of Nature Study to learn more about insects in general. You might like to introduce your child to the development and structure of insects using the information from the Handbook of Nature Study.
Read pages 369-373 in the Handbook of Nature Study for information about the ant. Make some notes after reading Lesson 91 on the Field Observations of Ants so you will have some ideas for observation when you take your children outdoors. This might be a fun challenge to use a magnifying lens! *Note if you are using the free download of the HNS, The Ways of the Ant are on page 419 and in the Homeschool Freebie version of the HNS, the ant is in the Insects PDF on page 114.
We have used educational ant farms over the years in our home and they are a fascinating way to study ants up close. I highly suggest this as a family activity. Here is a link to the ant farm we have used in the past: Uncle Milton’s Giant Ant Farm.
Outdoor Hour Time:
For this challenge you can spend some of your outdoor time looking for ants. Ask your children if they have noticed ants in your backyard and have them investigate to find some ants to observe. Look under rocks, logs, along sidewalks, under leaves, on the bark of trees, and on garden plants. Use the suggestions you listed in your inside preparation time to learn some more about your ants.
Some Ideas For a Simple Ant Study
Quietly observe ants at work. Count how many ants you can see.
Look carefully to see if all the ants are the same size.
Do you see ants working together to carry something?
Do you see any aphids with your ants?
Do you see any ants fighting?
Do you see any eggs?
Follow Up Time:Talk about the ants you were able to observe during your outdoor time. As always, allow time for a nature journal entry. If you are keeping a simple nature journal of your own, remember that a journal entry can be as easy as a sketch, label, and a date. You can also use the notebook page from the Spring Series Ebook or a blank nature journal page from the sidebar of my blog.
If you would like all the Spring Series Challenges in one book, I have an ebook gathered for you to purchase for your convenience. The ebook also contains art and music appreciation plans for the winter months as well. Please see this entry for more details: Spring Nature Study with Art and Music Appreciation
The sun was out and we jumped on the chance to go to the snow for some fun and refreshment.
Let’s just say it was breathtaking….far too awesome for words.
(Not sure if you are on an email subscription if the video shows up, but you can click over to my blog and view a 30 second video of the landscape.)
It was so quiet and we had the whole place to ourselves. This is the best kind of hike…time to enjoy the quiet and the beauty. Look at those cattails. It reminds me that in the summer this place is hopping with red-winged blackbirds and egrets. This day we saw nuthatches, mountain chickadees, and a raven. It was surprisingly quiet.
The beavers have actually dammed up the regular waterway and it is now flowing around the right side instead of straight through. Fascinating.
Some of the creek is actually all covered over with snow…you can see openings where the water is frozen over. As many years as we have been coming here in the winter, we have never seen this before.
Not very many tracks in the snow this time…
As usual, we end up spreading out and just taking the trail at our own pace. We are usually all within eyesight of each other but keeping a nice distance in between.
As much as I hate to miss a day of regular schoolwork, we really needed this day to wander out in the sunshine and fresh air.
Mushrooms! Fungus! Molds! Ask my children and they will tell you that I am fascinated with these things when we find them during our outdoor time. They even call me very affectionately the “Fungus Lady”.
I found this video during our last study of mushrooms and I would love for you to watch it in order to prepare you for your study of mushrooms. This video is very well done and will help your children understand how a mushroom grows.
You will need to click over to YouTube.com to view this video. Please note: Turn down the sound if the music is too much for you. As always, please preview the video on YouTube and I do not endorse any other video that may come up after this one. There are some questionable videos about mushrooms.
If you do not think you will observe any mushrooms during your Outdoor Time, you can still complete the Inside Preparation work as a way to be ready the next time you do see a mushroom.
Outdoor Hour Challenge
Autumn Series #9 Mushrooms
(See Also Challenge #41)
Inside Preparation Work
Mushrooms and Other Fungi-read the overview starting on page 714 and continuing to page 719. Page 719 shows the parts of a mushroom with labels.
Outdoor Hour Time The ideal study of ferns, mushrooms, and fungi would be to experience them outdoors in their natural habitat. Use your 15 to 20 minutes of outdoor time this week to enjoy a search for some kind of mushroom. Your particular area may not have these subjects readily at hand but let your friends, family, and neighbors know that you are studying mushrooms and with more pairs of eyes looking you may be able to find something to study up close.
Enjoy your time outdoors whether you can find this week’s subject or not. Remember to look at the sky and comment on the weather. Take time to notice your tree from your year long tree study. Collect a few items to take inside to sketch into your nature journal. Just because the topic of this challenge is mushrooms, you do not have to limit yourself to that narrow focus during your 15 to 20 minutes of outdoor time.
Spend a few minutes once inside to discuss your experiences from your nature walk.Are there questions that need to be answered or items that need to be identified? Make a note of any topics that come up that you can research further in the Handbook of Nature Study or at your local library.
Make an opportunity for a nature journal entry. The diagrams on pages 695 and 719 could be sketched into the nature journal. I have created a notebook page for you to use in your nature journal to record your mushroom observations and it is listed in the free downloads section of the sidebar of my blog.
“Since mushrooms are especially good subjects for watercolor and pencil studies, it would add much to the interest of the work if each pupil, or the school as a whole, should make a portfolio of sketches of all the species found. With each drawing there should be made on a supplementary sheet a spore print of the species.” Handbook of Nature Study, page 718
Spore prints are another idea for an activity following up the mushroom study. I would only do this activity with older students who truly understand that mushrooms can be poisonous.
Here are some instructions you can download: Mushroom Spore Prints or this blog entry.
You can use the provided notebook page to sketch a mushroom that you observed during your Outdoor Time or you can use it to copy the sketch from page 719 in the Handbook of Nature Study, labeling the different parts of a mushroom.