It’s that time of year again! Wildflower season is upon us and it may just be the topic that your children will really enjoy as you take your summer nature walks. Who can help but notice the colors of summer when they start to bloom? Every habitat has something to offer before the season passes.
Use the ideas in the link below to take a closer look at a few of your wildflowers of summer. After you make some observations, you can create a nature journal page for each flower. Keep your study simple and fun this summer and you’ll be sure to make some fond wildflower memories for your children.
Here in Central Oregon we have many asters and daisies to observe. This week’s challenge takes us into the Handbook of Nature Study lessons on daisies and asters. Look for these flowers in your garden and yard. If you can’t find any flowers to observe in person during your outdoor time, you can usually find these flowers in the floral department at your local grocery store.
Make this a fun and enjoyable study by following up with some watercolor paintings in your nature journal. I am always inspired to be creative when I take my paints outside and your children may just be the same way.
Make sure to watch the videos in the original challenge to inspire even the most flower study reluctant boys. They might want to look for the patterns and the Fibonacci sequence in the challenge flowers after learning more about this fascinating aspect of nature.
You can also follow up by pressing flowers for your nature journal or allowing time for your children to arrange a beautiful bouquet of flowers for your kitchen table.
Above all, get outside and enjoy your family time!
My current nature themed read isVitamin N by Richard Louv. I am gleaning so many new and original nature study ideas from his writings. I know many of you have read his other book, Last Child in the Woods, but Vitamin N takes his ideas one step further by providing specific and practical ideas for enjoying nature with your family. I highly recommend this book! Look for it at your public library.
Looking for the autumn plan for the Outdoor Hour Challenge? Here is a link!
“The asters, like the goldenrods, begin to bloom at the tip of the branches, the flower-heads nearest the central stem blooming last. All of the asters are very sensitive, and the flower-heads usually close as soon as they are gathered.” Handbook of Nature Study, page 507
I love a good flower study! Reading in the Handbook of Nature Study I learned that the aster has both a disc flower and a ray flower…like a sunflower. Aha! I can see it now that I have slowed down to really look at this pretty flower from the aster family, a Shasta Daisy or an Ox-Eye Daisy…not sure which
We happened to be at the beautiful summer garden found at Tallac Historic Site and I was excited to find a whole range of asters to observe. We had been on a quest to find some goldenrod but settled for any flowers in the aster family we could find. (We did find some goldenrod…see last flower photo.)
Can you see the disc and ray flowers?
I think you can really see the disc flowers once the ray flowers wilt back. This daisy helps show the way the different kinds of flowers grow in this daisy flower head. Point that out to your kids the next time you see an aster.
How about this flower in the aster family? The Purple Coneflower is one of my favorites and I grow it in my garden every year….well actually it just comes back to life in the spring so I don’t have to do too much to it.
So now come a bunch of images that show the variety that this flower family can produce. Starting with this really large yellow aster with the long ray flowers.
These were some of my favorites! I love the multi-colored flowers and the Black-eyed Susans all mixed together. I am going to make sure to plant an area of my garden with seeds like these so I can enjoy their beauty all summer long.
Drooping ray flowers really show this flower off at its best! I am going to put this one in my nature journal…watercolors or markers? Not sure yet.
Edit to add my journal—I ended up with colored pencils.
This aster was not in the garden at Tallac but was on the trail around over by Taylor Creek. There was a whole section of them blooming. I love the classic lavender and yellow color combination. This may need to go in my nature journal too.
Eureka! We finally saw some goldenrod in bloom. We had seen lots of dried up goldenrod during our hike but this was the first blooming plant we spied. The goldenrod completed our hunt for all kinds of flowers in the aster family.
NOTE: If you haven’t read the narrative section in the Handbook of Nature Study on the goldenrod plant, you are missing out. Make sure to read the Teacher’s Story for Lesson 132 before you study your goldenrod flowers.
Here we are…the intrepid aster hunters. My oldest and youngest went with me this time and it was great to have them along. They are both a lot of fun.
Mr. B took a break from flower hunting to stack some rocks and strike a pose. Like I said, always a lot of fun with these nature-loving kids.
Don’t miss out on the chance to do your own goldenrod, aster, or chrysanthemum study this month. Pop over to the challenge and print out the free Autumn Garden Nursery Mini-Book printable if you need to make this a quick and easy nature study week.
We were out working in the garden this morning and the topic of pollination came up. We were talking about the different ways that plants pollinate and as if to illustrate one way, this spider obliged us with his example.
We were really examining these black-eyed susans and their pretty pollen spots and we realized that this very yellow spider was sitting right there in front of us. Isn’t he pretty?
I ran inside and gathered a few things to use in exploring the garden and its pollens. I brought out a few Q-tips and a hand lens for gathering some pollen from the flowers and looked at it up close. We also found that many of the flowers and veggies that we observed had ants crawling in around the inside of the flower. Pollination.
Pollen on a day lily
We took a few minutes more to look at various ways that plants hold their pollen and watched a few bees at work and then we came inside.
Pollen on a petunia
It was a short nature study but the best kind……stemming from curiosity about something we had close at hand.
This week’s garden update is full of colors and surprises. My daily watering routine is always rewarded with something new or interesting to look at and think about as I spend a few minutes enjoying the growing things in my yard. This is the time of year that gardening is at its best….all those hours spend cultivating and sowing seeds, pampering the delicate plants as the summer progressed, and then feeling the surge of joy as you peek under a leaf and see something delicious to eat or something to raise your spirits with its colors and textures.
Here are your garden treats this week.
Morning glories in all their glory. This is the color that they are in real life…a sort of radiant pink and the camera just enhances that rich color.
My Black-Eyed Susans are just starting to bloom along the fence and they make me smile.
“These beautiful, showy flowers have rich contrasts in their color scheme. The ten to twenty ray flowers wave rich, orange banners around the cone of purple-brown disc flowers.” Handbook of Nature Study, page 523 (Black-eyed Susan)
This is a hover fly inside a wildflower. He is the perfect size for this trumpet shaped flower. I have been on the lookout for insects in the garden since that is the focus of the Outdoor Hour Challenges right now. This one I recognize from our fall study of insects.
This creature is my constant companion as I spend time in our backyard. She is always curious about what I am looking at and many times I have to shoo her away in order to get a good photo of something in the garden box. In this photo she is watching my middle son fly his RC helicopter on the lawn. She isn’t afraid of it but I don’t think she exactly knows what to think of it either. Always curious….
This beauty just started to bloom today. It is in a pot on the back deck and it came up from a plant that I had last year. Gerber Daisy…what a color it is!
Now we are to the edible update for the week. My patio tomatoes growing on the back deck are really starting to produce. Can you just taste the yummy sunshiney taste of these beauties? Next year I think I will grow two of these plants so we have enough tomatoes for everyone.
Last year my hubby bought me a lemon tree for the deck. He put it in a beautiful pot and it was loaded with lemons. We harvested those and then over the winter we pampered this tree through rain, wind, snow, and ice. Come springtime it blossomed like crazy and it smelled so delicious. Then the cold weather came back and I worried that we wouldn’t get any lemons at all since the blooms fell off. Well, hiding under the bottom leaves there were some that made it through and now we have some fairly good sized lemons on the tree again. I think there are eight lemons which is better than nothing. 🙂
Hope you enjoyed the garden update for this week….so many things to share. I wanted to mention that I usually look up everything in the Handbook of Nature Study as we go throughout our week. Many times I am surprised to see something listed in there and then we take the time to read and discuss the information. It just seems so natural to find something we are interested in and then learn more about it when it is fresh in our mind. Even though the focus this week is on insects for the Outdoor Hour Challenge, many other subjects come up and we take that opportunity to learn about them too.
Outdoor Hour Challenges for families since 2008!
Join other homeschool families growing a love of nature with Outdoor Hour Challenges.