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Outdoor Hour Challenge #34 Tree Focus: Maples

Maples. I am not sure if we have a maple tree in our neighborhood but we will be on the lookout for one this week. My dad has a Japanese maple in his yard but it is most definitely not a native species to our area. It is a beautiful tree though and I will keep track of it over the next few weeks as it starts to turn its gorgeous fall colors.

So what can you do this week if you don’t have an maple tree to observe? Check out the second option in the challenge for additional ways to get to know a tree in your neighborhood this week.

Extra credit this week: Taste some real maple syrup.

Outdoor Hour Challenge #34

Focus on Trees-Maples

1. Read the section titled “Nature-Study and Object Lessons” on pages 7 and 8 of the Handbook of Nature Study.

“The child should see definitely and accurately all that is necessary for the recognition of a plant or animal; but in nature-study, the observation of form is for the purpose of better understanding life.”

2. This week read in the Handbook of Nature Study pages 628-634 to learn more about maple trees. Even if you don’t think you have any maples in your area, it is still interesting to read the information for future reference. The information may help you to identify a maple in your neighborhood that you did not realize was there before. Make sure to note the ideas suggested for a fall observation of maples in the lesson at the end of the section-Lesson 174.

3. Spend 15 to 20 minutes outdoors this week with your children in your own yard or on your own street. This week you will have two suggested activities.

*If you have a maple tree of any variety in your yard or on your street, use the ideas from the lesson on page 632 to 634 to guide your observation of the maple tree. The lesson suggests studying the maple out of doors if possible.
*If you do not have a maple tree to observe or you have an additional time period for nature study, choose another variety of tree to observe. Use the suggestions on page 623 to observe the roots of a tree.

“Describe what you can see of the tree’s roots. How far do you suppose the roots reach down? How far out at the sides? In how many ways are the roots useful to the tree? Do you suppose if the tree were turned bottom side up, that it would show as many roots as it now shows branches?”

4. After your outdoor time, spend a few minutes discussing any trees you saw. Ask them to give you a brief description of something they saw while on their nature walk. If your child collected an item during your outdoor time, take a few minutes to look at it closely. Ask if your child has any questions that they would like to research over the next week. Make note of anything they are interested in learning more about. Look it up in the index of the Handbook of Nature Study and read more about it if it is covered in the book. Check your local library if you need additional information.

5. Make sure to give time and the opportunity for a nature journal entry. The lesson in the Handbook of Nature Study suggests sketching the fruit including the seeds. Another suggestion is to sketch the leaf and to watercolor your maple tree. A nature journal entry can be as simple as a sketch, a label, and a date. Press any leaves you collected this week and add them to your nature journal later on.

6. If you identified a tree this week, add it to your list of trees in the front or back of your nature journal. You can also use the Running List notebook page. Make a note indicating whether it is an evergreen or a deciduous tree.

You can purchase all of the first ten challenges in a convenient ebook along with custom notebook pages.

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Outdoor Hour Challenge #20 Our Summer Tree Study

We have had hot smoky weather for the past two weeks with all the fires burning in our area. It is very unusual for the wildfires to start so early but my husband says that the fuel in the forests is so dry that it doesn’t take much to get it going. We had several dry lightning storms and two weeks ago we had extremely high winds. All these factors together make for extreme fire danger.

We have been enjoying our outdoor time both in the garden and out on hikes in our local area. First of all though, here is my son’s summer tree study.His tree doesn’t look that much different from our last study. There are lots of green leaves which my son thinks are darker than they were in the spring but it is hard to tell.

Here is a close up of the leaves.This time he measured around the trunk and found it to be 28 inches in circumference.

This is what he noticed had changed the most about the tree. It had these sprouts coming up from the bottom of the trunk. We usually snap these off as they sprout but my son wants to leave them just to see how they grow.

We are anxious to compare our summer tree with our autumn tree!