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.
We were not even out to find any grasshoppers but guess who crossed our path? Mr. A spotted this big guy in the grass along the hiking trail! He was about three inches in length and actually kind of pretty.
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
Last year we had a great time keeping track of all our early spring wildflowers. It became a sort of treasure hunt for our family as we hiked every week. Although none of us felt much like getting outdoors for a walk yesterday, except for perhaps our dog, we kicked ourselves out the door and were rewarded with some beautiful wildflowers to look at as we hiked.
The manzanita is blooming now and technically it is a flowering bush…I still think the buds are very pretty and this one with the bright red bud caught my eye.
There is a special spot in the canyon that we can hike to that has a slope where as the seasons progress it has different wildflowers. Right now it is starting to bloom with this Popcorn flower.
The saxifrage is starting to bloom now and it is interesting with its red stems.
How about this Houndstongue? Wow! It is so very pretty. Just like it shows in the photo, some of the blooms are almost blue and some are purple.
Okay, so this one isn’t a photo of a wildflower but he was hopping all over the meadow where we were taking photos. He was a very spirited grasshopper….let’s just say I took about ten photos trying to get him inside the frame. 🙂
We were very glad that we got out and took a hike yesterday. The sun was warm and the flowers cheered us all up. I hope they cheer you up as well.
As I was watering the garden this afternoon I noticed this big guy on the daylily. He was rubbing himself in the pollen and thoroughly enjoying himself. He didn’t seem to mind that I was watching him and taking a few photos. Amazing….simply amazing.
Look at those really long antennae.
What a great discovery this hot summer afternoon. The flower is just gorgeous too…..if you didn’t notice. 🙂
“When any creature has unusually strong hind legs, we many be sure it is a jumper, and the grasshopper shows this peculiarity at first glance.” Handbook of Nature Study, page 339
There is a section on grasshoppers starting on page 338 of the Handbook of Nature Study.
Edit to Note: Makita helped me realize that this particular insect is actually a Chaparral katydid. So now here is my question: Is a katydid a kind of grasshopper? In my field guide it says, Chaparral Katydid, Platylyra californica, grasshopper order. Are grasshoppers, katydids, and crickets all related or am I reading my field guide and misunderstanding? Insect identification is my least favorite thing to do in nature study.
This little critter has been hard for us to identify. We found him and put him in our magnifying jar so we could take a really good look at him. I have never paid much attention to the differences between katydids and grasshoppers but now after identifying this guy, I know so much more about it.
From the Handbook of Nature Study, page 343:
“I love to hear thine earnest voice
Wherever thou are hid,
Thou testy little dogmatist,
Thou pretty katydid,
Thou mindest me of gentle folks,
Old gentle folks are they,
Thou say’st an undisputed thing
In such a solemn way.” -Holmes
From page 344:
“The katydids resemble the long-horned grasshoppers and the crickets. They live in trees, and the male sings “katy did” by means of a musical instrument similar to that of the cricket.”
There is lots more information about katydids in the Handbook of Nature Study on pages 343-344.
Here is a little graphic my son made on the computer showing complete metamorphosis. Katydids go through incomplete metamorphosis. (see page 298 of the Handbook of Nature Study)
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