This is the perfect early summer nature study challenge! The crickets are already singing in most areas and it won’t be hard to take some time in the evening to use your sense of hearing to observe these interesting insects.
With gardens come grasshoppers and/or katydids. Such funny insects to observe! Can you catch a few to observe for awhile?
Use the information in the archived challenge to use your senses this week with your children.
This ebook is found in the Ultimate level membership for you to download and use with your family. If you would like to gain access to this ebook, you can purchase a membership now and have instant access.
We have spent lots of time outdoors in the evenings this summer because it is too hot to be out much during the day. We usually start our evening off with dinner on the back deck and then sit later in the evening as the sun sets. We are still experiencing lots of finches flocking to our tree just at dusk…accompanied by lots of singing and chirping.
We also notice the hummingbirds at the feeders as the sun descends lower and lower on the horizon.
The bats come as well and several times I have felt them whisk past my ears while I am on the deck, startling me but they never actually touch me so I am okay with that.
We have been on the lookout for insects at all times of the day. We noticed grasshoppers in Utah and Nevada on our trip a few weeks ago.
I was able to capture some butterflies at my dad’s house that were in among his flowers. This butterfly had a lot of his wings broken off…didn’t seem to stop him from flying skillfully from flower to flower.
My favorite insect of the month so far is this Milkweed beetlethat we saw in Utah. Amazing colors and design!
Here is an interesting bee we saw in our front yard on the lavender.
And then there were crickets in our yard. When I took a video (so I could capture the audio), I realized that there are two distinct sounds. One is definitely a cricket but the other is a buzzing sound. I am thinking it is a cicada of some sort and have done some research on cicadas found in California. There are some so I am now on the hunt to actually see one.
Just remembered that we saw cave cricketswhen we were at Great Basin National Park in the Lehman Caves, which are pale and have really long antennae. I was so focused on the cave and its awesome formations that I forgot to really pay attention to the crickets or take a photo.
I love it when we take one topic and focus on it for a month….I highly recommend it for more in-depth study of anything topic your children are interested in learning more about.
Have fun this week outside in the evenings looking for or listening for crickets. This is a great challenge to work on building your quiet time outside as you go on a cricket hunt. Don’t worry if you only get a few seconds of quiet from your younger children since listening and working quietly are skills they can build as they mature. Older children can be challenged to hunt quietly for a few minutes and they will be surprised by how much they hear when they do so. (You may find this entry helpful: December Senses Walk.)
If you already own the Getting Started ebook, complete Outdoor Hour Challenge #4. This week you can work on an insect focus. Start a list of summer insects that you observe in your yard or neighborhood. Keep your list in your nature journal and add to it during each season if you would like.
How can you get the new ebook? It will be loaded into the Ultimate Naturalist and Journey level memberships in August!
We have been working on our July Newsletter Nighttime Critter Challenge all month. I wanted to post a little of what we are observing and learning to give you an idea of how you can pick a few things from your area to study in the evening hours. I will update our list after the end of the month with any new finds.
Our most predominant nighttime critters of interest are the Brown bats that come every single night to fly in our backyard. I wrote about them back in May as part of mammal study. For the July newsletter challenge for Nighttime Critters, I decided to share a few of our other nighttime visitors of interest. This study was sort of on-going because when the weather is hot, we tend to drag sleeping bags out to the back deck to sleep in the cool night air. We all lay awake and listen and watch as the nighttime settles in around us.
Shooting stars, satellites zipping across the sky, the moon, the swaying trees in the breeze, and the night sounds all entertain us as we wait for sleep to come.
Fill In The Circle and Fill In With Color Example – Poor owl sketch…he has such a crooked beak.
One of the things that we have discovered sleeping outside on hot summer nights is that we have quite a few great horned owls in our neighborhood. We can hear them calling back and forth right after the sun goes down and then again at around 5 AM. Here is a link to AllAboutBirds.org and if you click the sound button, you will hear the two types of sounds we hear from our owls: Great Horned Owls. We have yet to actually see them but they are out there…no doubt about it.
We also are serenaded by crickets when the temperatures get just right. It is amazing how you don’t hear any crickets and then all of a sudden it is as if someone turned on a cricket soundtrack and they all chirp at the same time. The lesson in the Handbook of Nature Study gives a great illustration showing the parts of the cricket and an excellent explanation of how he “sings”. (Lesson 82)
“The wing covers are much shorter than the abdomen and beneath them are vestiges of wings, which are never used. The male has larger wing covers than the female, and they are veined in a peculiar scroll pattern. This veining seems to be a framework for the purpose of making a sounding board of the wing membrane, by stretching it out as a drumhead is stretched.” Handbook of Nature Study.
Turn in your copy of the Handbook of Nature Study to read much more in the lesson explaining this interesting creature.There is such a simple explanation of the mechanics of the crickets chirping that it is perfect for sharing with younger children. The crickets and the frogs compete in our neighborhood for the winner of the “background” noise. It seems as if one or the other is singing their little hearts out.
We smell skunks quite a few nights a week. Sleeping outside we hear rustling in the garden and I think it is the skunk. I know they dig around the base of the birdfeeder outside our window but over the years I have decided that if he leaves me alone, I will leave him alone. Here is another entry where I talk about our nighttime visitors.
List from the July Newsletter. I cut it out and taped it inside my nature journal.
One last nighttime critter we have had around the neighborhood is the raccoon. Our neighbor has been sharing how they keep forgetting to bring in the dog’s food dish at night and the raccoon has decided that it makes a easy snack taken just outside their patio door. We have had our share of raccoons in the yard over the years but we haven’t seen any lately. Here is an entry sharing one raccoon experience: Raccoon Visitor.
Well that gives you a taste of what we have around here in the evenings. I just thought of something else I need to put on my list….moths.
I look forward to reading about your nighttime critters. Don’t forget to post your entry and then submit it to the Outdoor Hour Challenge Blog Carnival before 7/30/11 for a chance in the July Newsletter giveaway!
Please note the above links are Amazon affiliate links to books I own and love!
NOTE: If the challenge is included an ebook, it is noted directly after the challenge. If you have an Ultimate Membership, you will be able to pull up the ebook and print any notebook pages, coloring pages, or other printables for your nature study.
We were busy picking flowers and taking some photos when we had a visitor. It hopped right up on my arm and it tickled. I realized I had a visitor. My son scooped him up and put him on a flower while I captured him in a few photos.
I was pretty excited until I realized that the challenge was cricket, grasshopper, and katydid….we had ourselves a praying mantis! Oh well, it was fun observing him up close anyway.
Here is his behind….way too funny huh?
He was very good at posing. It made me laugh because every time I tried to take his photo, he would move so his head was facing away from the camera. He would actually look right at me and then turn at the last minute.
One last pose…I think he only had one antennae.
We spent last week in Nevada and it was amazing to us how many grasshoppers there were in the barren landscape. I never did get a single photo of the grasshoppers but we talked about their habits quite a bit as we were out and about.They were rather small grasshoppers in comparison to the one we found near a river in Reno.
I shared this guy last week and since them we have been trying to identify him with no success. He was rather large, probably close to 2 inches long. We think it may be a two-striped grasshopper.
Since we had crickets, grasshoppers, and katydids on our minds, we have slowed down a bit to try to find some to observe. We went out several times to try to hear some crickets but they seem to be smaller in number so the volume is less than usual. It has been a crazy weather year and I am wondering if it is effecting the crickets.
Sometimes I think we might learn more when we have trouble locating our challenge subject. We definitely find more to learn about.
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
I’m tired after a really busy weekend. Spring weather and the call to be outdoors getting dirt under my fingernails kept us busy, busy, busy.
Here are a few images to share a few glimpses into our weekend.
Our resident squirrel in the birdfeeder. I love his tail.
Harvesting the radishes and the first round of onions.
Blueberries growing so round and plump.
Lavender that is alive with bees.
The first round of weeding around the garden boxes is complete thanks to Mr. A. He and I have been working diligently at getting the weeds under control before the warm weather sets in for good. The boxes are all ready for the seedlings we have been nursing upstairs.
We found this guy when we were working in the roses. It was perfect timing since I am working on a cricket challenge for the Summer Series ebook. We were able to do some up close observations before we left him comfortably back on the rose bush.
Edit to add: K left me a comment saying that there is an ovipositor so my he is really a she. Thanks K.
No one says that hard work in the garden does not have its rewards. Yummy first strawberries were picked and eaten. The best ever end to a long weekend outdoors, except for maybe the grilled burgers my dear husband made us for dinner which we ate outside on our deck.
Hope you all had some time to get outdoors and enjoy whatever your world offered this weekend. I know that some of you have written to say that you don’t have an apple tree to study but you could just as well study any tree you find in the Handbook of Nature Study as a substitute or you could do a general apple study using some apples you have on hand. If all else fails, spend fifteen minutes outdoors with your children and enjoy whatever comes your way.
Let’s take a look at crickets this week in our mini-focus on insects using the Handbook of Nature Study. Summertime is the perfect time to go outdoors in the cool evenings, listening and tracking these creatures close to home.
“The haunts of the cricket are usually sunny; it digs a little cave beneath a stone or clod in some field, where it can have the whole benefit of all the sunshine when it issues from its door.” Handbook of Nature Study, page 344
If at all possible, try to spend some of your outdoor hour time outside during the evening hours to see if you can hear some crickets chirping in the twilight and evening.
Outdoor Hour Challenge #24 Focus on Insects-Crickets
1. This week read about crickets in the Handbook of Nature Study, pages 344-349. 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.
2. 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.
3. 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. This is a good time to work on using descriptive words as described in Outdoor Hour Challenge #2. The more you use the proper names for subjects you see during your nature study, the sooner your children will learn and remember them for themselves.
4. If you observed some other kinds of insects during the week, give the option for making a nature journal for those too. Make sure to pull out the Handbook of Nature Study to see if the insect you found is listed and you can read more about it there. If you are keeping a running list of insects you have observed during this focus period, add the insect’s name to the list.
Post an entry on your blog sharing your experiences. You can link up by clicking the carnival button or you can send them directly to me: firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can find another cricket challenge by clicking the button below.