“Nature study is, despite all discussions and perversions, a study of nature; it consists of simple, truthful observations that may, like beads on a string, finally be threaded upon the understanding and thus held together as a logical and harmonious whole.”
Handbook of Nature Study, page 1
Outdoor Hour Challenge #33
1. This week read in the Handbook of Nature Study pages 639-642 to learn more about oak trees. Even if you don’t think you have any oaks in your area, it is still interesting to read the information for future reference. Make sure to note the ideas suggested for studying oaks in the lesson at the end of the section-Lesson 176.
2. Spend 15 to 20 minutes outdoors this week with your children in your own yard or on your own street. The weather should be getting cooler for most of us and it is a very enjoyable time to be outdoors. Take advantage of this time before the cold and wet weather sets in. This week you will have two suggested activities. In addition, how about taking a photo of your child with a tree in your yard? This is a great way to document growth of both the tree and your child over time.
*If you have an oak tree of any variety in your yard or on your street, use the ideas from the lesson on page 641 and 642 to guide your observation of the oak tree. Take along your magnifying lens if you want to get a closer look at the bark or leaves of your tree as you spend time outdoors. Don’t forget to look for acorns. If you have an oak tree to observe, it would be fun to share a photo of your acorn. There are many types of acorn shapes and sizes and it would be great to see what your particular acorn looks like.
*If you do not have a oak tree to observe or you have an additional time period for nature study, choose another variety of tree to observe. Study the leaves on your tree and then describe the shape of the leaf, the edges, the color on top and below, count its ribs and veins, and then describe how it feels and how it smells. Encourage your children to observe quietly for a few minutes of each outdoor time period.
3. After your outdoor time, spend a few minutes discussing any trees you saw. Talk about anything that interested your child. Ask them to give you a brief description of something they saw while on their nature walk. Refer back to challenge number two for more ideas on how to encourage oral narration of your nature time. This would also be a good time to look up any oak trees you observed in your field guide and see if you can learn more about your particular oak tree. If your child found something else of interest, look it up in the index of the Handbook of Nature Study. Read over the pages before your next nature study time so you will be ready to share the information with your child.
4. Make sure to give time and the opportunity for a nature journal entry. There is a suggestion in the Handbook of Nature Study to draw your oak in the fall and then again in the winter. Also, the Handbook suggests finding three leaves from your oak that differ in form, and then sketch them in your notebook. If you would like to complete a notebook page, see the link below to choose one for your child’s journal. A nature journal entry can be as simple as a sketch, a label, and a date. See challenges two and three for alternatives to drawing in your nature journal.
5. If you identified a tree this week, add it to your list of trees in the front or back of your nature journal.