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Turtle Nature Study for Your Homeschool

Learn about pond life, pondweed and a pond habitat with this fun turtle nature study for your homeschool. Includes activities for learning about tortoises and microscopic pond life too.

Turtle Nature Study Inside Preparation Work

Learn about pond life, pondweed and a pond habitat with this fun turtle nature study for homeschool. Includes activities for tortoises and microscopic pond life.
  • Read in the Handbook of Nature Study about Turtles on pages 204-209 (Lesson 52). Also read about Pondweed on pages 498-500 (Lesson 130).
  • Homeschool Nature Study Members: Use the Pond Study Cross-section Notebook page in your Pond Course as a way to generate interest for this challenge. You can complete the page during your outdoor time if you would like.
  • Advanced Study: View and read in the Handbook of Nature Study pages 400-403 (Lesson 102). Use this information as you make your observations at your local pond. Here is another idea for the field: Guide to Pond Dipping. I also found this excellent resource for identifying things you find when you scoop your pond water: Simple Guide to Small and Microscopic Pond Life.

Pond Homeschool Nature Study Outdoor Hour Time

  • Look for opportunities to spend your outdoor hour time at a pond. Ponds are a center of many nature study opportunities. Let your child lead your pond time (with your careful supervision).
  • Use the ideas from the lessons in the Handbook of Nature Study to observe closely any turtles or pondweed that you find. Make sure to keep an eye out for anything of interest that you can follow up with in the Handbook of Nature Study.
Learn about pond life, pondweed and a pond habitat with this fun turtle nature study for homeschool. Includes activities for tortoises and microscopic pond life.

Turtle and Pond Follow-Up Homeschool Activities

  • Follow-up with any interest that you found during your pond study. Use the Handbook of Nature Study as a reference for any additional subjects that came up. Make a nature journal entry for your turtle or pondweed.
  • Homeschool Nature Study Members: Find a Pond Life Study on page three of your Pond Course and accompanying Pond Outdoor Hour Challenge Curriculum.
  • Advanced Study: You can research individual turtles for you nature journal. Use this website for more information: Turtles and Tortoises of the United States.
  • Advanced Study: Use the information from the Wetlands/Ponds video and create your own pond life images. You can record any pond dwellers in your nature journal. Ebook Users: There is also an additional notebook page in the ebook to use if you have more to record.

Additional links:

Learn about pond life, pondweed and a pond habitat with this fun turtle nature study for homeschool. Includes activities for tortoises and microscopic pond life.

Homeschool Nature Study Membership for the Whole Family

Can you believe all of these turtle and pond resources you will find in membership? You will also find a continuing homeschool nature study series plus all the Outdoor Hour Challenges for nature study in our Homeschool Nature Study membership. There are 25+ continuing courses with matching Outdoor Hour curriculum that will bring the Handbook of Nature Study to life in your homeschool! In addition, there is an interactive monthly calendar with daily nature study prompt – all at your fingertips!

– By Barb July 2012, updated by Tricia March 2022

Learn about pond life, pondweed and a pond habitat with this fun turtle nature study for homeschool. Includes activities for studying microscopic pond life.
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Quartz Study – Rock Collecting Gone Crazy

Rocky Shore - American River
Our quartz study has stretched on for weeks. We have had numerous rock collecting hikes and each time we come home we develop new questions to be answered. The supply of quartz in our area is seemingly endless. Once your eye starts to look for it…you see it everywhere.

Our family lives in the gold country of California. The gold rush started practically in our backyard. We drive by the American River every day…as the crow flies it is about 3 miles from our house. This area is full of old gold mines and many people still today make a living by mining and panning for gold (or using a sluice box). Where there is gold, there is quartz.

Collection of Rocks - American River
We collected milky quartz for the most part at the river, along with a variety of other “pretty” rocks. I have a special place for pretty rocks in my heart. It may be the hunting for them or the spotting of a particularly nice rock that keeps me coming back for more.

Mr. A shares my love of rocks and we enjoyed an afternoon this week at the river with the Kona dog. Kona likes sticks more than rocks so we occupied her with fetching sticks while we looked for something interesting along the rocky shore.

Sunny Afternoon at the American River
The sound of rushing water always seems to welcome a good thoughtful sit..even on an uncomfortable rock. This day we sat and enjoyed the warmth of the sun after a freezing morning. Our jackets were slipped off on the hike back to the car which was nice.

At home we started off with a magnifying lens, looking carefully at the surface of each rock. This can quite addictive once you get started and there really is a lot to see.

Quartz Study with Pyrite

We noticed a colorful collection of sand on the surface of one rock and we had the bright idea to place it on a slide and look at it under the microscope.

River Rock - American River

We are still not sure if the shiny gold is actually gold or pyrite….probably pyrite flakes.

River Sand on a Microscope Slide
We placed a little sand on a microscope slide…our rocks all had small amounts clinging to the nooks and crannies.

Quartz Study  4
Now this is where the study becomes even more interesting! We spent the next hour or so taking turns finding things on the slides to share with each other. It was like discovering a new dimension.

We now have a larger collection of quartz and pretty rocks, a growing understanding of what “sand” is after looking at it under the microscope, and an appreciation that we don’t know everything about everything. 🙂

Quartz Study  3
Amazing world down there…who would have thought?

Quartz Study  2
It is not too late to do your own study of quartz using the Outdoor Hour Challenge. You may be as amazed as we were.

More Nature Study #2 button

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Gall Dwelling Insects – Our Winter Study

Our gall study has been going on for several months now and we have gathered quite a few different kinds of galls during our hikes. Some of the galls are really small but once we know what we are looking for we can look for the signs on the oaks. During the winter, the galls are more noticeable because there are far fewer leaves to deal with. Our local forest is a mix of evergreen and deciduous oaks so we still have plenty of leaves to check but not as many as the middle of summer.

I think the key to finding galls is to know what you are looking for. Check the links in the original challenge if you have any trouble getting started.

The California Gall Wasp is only 1/8″ to 1/4″ in size…far too small to probably ever be recognized or identified but we do know what their gall looks like. It is the big gall in the top image and you can clearly see the exit holes. Fascinating stuff.

Image Credit: Naturegirl 78 Flikr

We took time to observe the smaller galls under our microscope. It truly is a completely different world under the lens of a microscope. Amazing…even a hand lens will open that world up.

Empty Galls Image Credit: Christine Lynch Flickr

There is so much to learn about this topic, reaching into insect study and tree study.

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Learning About Wool – More Nature Study

Sheep Nature Study Notebook page

More Nature Study Book 2 – Sheep/Wool Study

Since we don’t have access to a sheep to observe up close, we opted to study wool instead. Mr. B was not all that excited about this particular challenge but once we started we had some fun with it. We did notice some sheep in a pasture over the weekend but that was about as close as we got to a real sheep.

  • We started off with the video on YouTube showing how wool is made and we also watched a few videos on shearing sheep. This led to a few more videos on spinning yarn from the wool roving. Now we have more of an appreciation for the wool yarn that goes into our hats and scarves.
  • With new interest, Mr. B completed his research into the Artiodactyla order and Bovidae family of animals, finishing off with a written narration of his investigation. Links found in the original challenge. If you want an interesting discussion, try to find some information online that discusses the Artiodactyla order and whales. It led to some interesting thoughts in our home. (You can Google “Cetartiodactyla”.)
  • Lastly we looked at wool under the microscope…amazing to see up close. I encourage you to give it a try if you have a microscope.

Sometimes our nature study is not of the outdoor variety but I knew that when I included sheep in this series of challenges. We chose a rainy day to complete this study and it was fun to think about wool when we were out on our snowshoe hike recently. Nature study can connect many real life experiences if we give it a chance. I look forward to seeing if any other families took this challenge and found a way to make it successful with their family.

If you want to look at other mammal using the Outdoor Hour Challenges, you can find a list here on this page: Outdoor Hour Challenges – Mammals 

You may also be interested in another Winter Mammal Challenge found here on the Handbook of Nature Study.
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Our Winter Wednesday Snow Experiments

With the latest round of snow that we had we were able to conduct our two snow experiments from the Winter Wednesday – Snow activities from chapter two of Discover Nature in Winter.

The first experiment was to gather snow and then let it melt to see how much water was actually present in the snow.

Here are two cups of packed snow.

Just under a cup of melted water resulted from the two cups of packed snow.

The next activity was to put out a clean jar in a snowstorm to gather snow. You then bring the snow in and let it melt. You pour the resulting water through a coffee filter and funnel to collect any particles that are within the snow.

We looked at our coffee filter and we could see a few black particles with the naked eye. We then put some of the water on a slide and looked at it under the microscope. I tried to get a photo of what we saw but you will have to use your imagination.

The arrow is pointing at a green splotch and then there was another green thread-like object at the bottom of the lighted area. This was a brand new slide with a brand new slide cover…..we were surprised and amazed.

I left the melted snow and microscope out all morning and just about everyone in the family tried their hand at viewing the snow up close.

Here are some dog and cat tracks in the snow on our back deck this morning. I love the way they look like they were dancing together. 🙂

I am loving our winter nature study this year. With the Winter Wednesday activities and the Discover Nature in Winter book, we have so many fresh ideas to learn from.