I post lots of photos on this blog of our adventures, gardening, and nature study. You can only imagine how many images I don’t share….perhaps thousands (30-40 a week adds up especially when you add in longer trips). I decided to share ten of those images that didn’t make the blog for your viewing enjoyment.
#1 This was from an amazing day at Yellowstone…totally unplanned and we were on half-speed since both my boys were really sick with some sort of sinus cold. We had planned a glorious day of hiking at Teton National Park, but since they were sick we altered plans and opted to drive the short distance up to Yellowstone and take a leisurely day and let things happen. Sometimes you just need to be flexible and this was one of those times. It was a great day with some great images… this was the same day we saw the grizzly bear and cubs driving back from Yellowstone to Jackson.
#2 Roosevelt Elk in Northern California are such majestic animals…very powerful. This photo reminds me of a great camping trip full of boy stuff, including lighthouses, long deserted beaches, crazy long hikes in the redwoods, and roasting monster size marshmallows over the campfire.
#3 The real story of hiking with boys is shown in this photo. How do they always find something to climb on, over, or through? This gate leads to a fantastic little spot that we discovered this year and have been back in just about every season, including January with about four feet of snow.
#4 There is not nearly enough time and space to share all my wildflower photos with you on this blog. These are along the roadside inside Yellowstone National Park. Honestly, if I didn’t always have boys waiting for me I could get stuck on just taking photos of flowers.
Prepare yourself for a different sort of image….
#5 Yep, this is one of my boys’ favorite images of all 2011. They spent quite some time posing this salmon head for a photo. Mr. A had his camera phone out and was snapping away before I even took any images. Gross but sort of cool when you examine it….I think it looks like a fossil. Later they found a really funny looking dead fish but I will spare you the images.
#6 You must click over to Flickr and look at this one really big…the texture of the feathers is awesome. Do you think I will ever learn to identify more kinds of ducks. Mallards are the only ones I can name for sure…something to work on in 2012.
#7 I planned on writing a post that included this image and sharing how much I HATE brussel sprouts although they are really quite interesting to look at. Who likes brussel sprouts anyway?
#8 This is a combo I am thinking about for my yard. Isn’t it pretty? Love the white of the birch and the yellow of the yarrow together.
#9 My daily friend who visits our feeder. There is a pair that sits on the utility wire across from our house and they make the most amazing sound when they fly….mourning doves are a great bird.
#10 This is what my family sees me doing a lot….gazing out the window at a variety of things, mostly birds.
If you would like to see my Flickr set with my favorite images from the blog from 2011…here you go:
The difference between a good outdoor experience and a great outdoor experience with an opportunity for nature study is sometimes just a matter of preparation. Summer nature study is a perfect fit for most families with the weather being more enjoyable and with longer days to enjoy. Whether you are visiting a new city, exploring your own city, or taking a road trip, including nature study in your plans can make your time more fun and interesting. Our family tries to include some element of outdoor time to each traveling experience.
California Tiger Lily
Four steps to preparing for nature study as you travel this summer.
1. Do a little research ahead of time for the habitat you will be visiting. Determine what you will encounter on your trip that might make for interesting nature study. I linked some ideas below along with some simple nature study books to get you started. Make sure to use your local library to find more books to prepare your family before your trip so you have some things to look forward to seeing in real life. For example, if you are going to be visiting an ocean beach, learn what plants, birds, and animals make their home there. You can also use the Handbook of Nature Study to read about things you think you might encounter during your summer travels.
2. Find resources such as field guides or other nature related books to read or bring along with you. I suggest a good bird field guide, a wildflower field guide, and perhaps a tree field guide as a basic set of resources to have with you. Check your library for books you can borrow and take with you. I have complied two lists of suggested field guides: Field Guides for Beginners and Field Guides for Families To prepare, you should page through the field guides before you leave on your trip to be familiar with the layout of the book and perhaps to glean a few things ahead of time to be looking for as you go outdoors.
Nature Journals done on the trail do not need to be fancy.
3. Bring along your nature journal or some pre-printed notebook pages. During down time it is nice to have supplies on hand to make a nature journal entry to record your nature study as you travel. Basic art supplies like markers or colored pencils are easy to pack. I also like watercolor pencils for nature journal entries. Keep it simple and light. Digital cameras are a lot of fun for children to use as they document their own view of the trip. Encourage your children to take photos of things that they observe for future reference in identifying or including in their nature journals.
My suggestions for nature journal supplies and then nature journal ideas can be found here: Nature Journals-Ideas and Tips.
In preparing for your trip, you could also look up a few of the Outdoor Hour Challenges before you travel, the first five challenges can be applied to any habitat. If you have the first Getting Started Challenges 1-10 ebook, you can have that loaded on your laptop and reference it as you travel.
My boys love to climb and this time they discovered banana slugs and salamanders.
4. I also like to look up nature centers or nature trails in the areas we visit.A good nature center visit can take an hour or two and can provide a spark to capture the interest of everyone in the family. The staff is usually knowledgeable about the local habitat, giving you advice on where to go and what to see. They also can help identify anything you have observed but can’t put a name to as you try to make your journal entries. Most nature centers have bookstores that can provide additional resources to follow-up your nature study time. I found this list of Nature Centers in the United States. (This list does not look complete but it will get you started.)
We are preparing for a camping trip of our own and I have used the suggestions above to gather ideas and resources ahead of time. You know we will share our results when we return from our coastal trip where we are hoping to find tidepools to explore, sandy beaches to walk, and redwood forests to hike in. We have some time before we set out so we will be thumbing through our field guides and looking up some additional information and redwood forests while we wait.
Hope you have the chance to spend some time outdoors this summer with your family AND include a little nature study.
This post is going to be a part of the Charlotte Mason Blog Carnival for nature study. You can submit your own entryHERE and the deadline is 6/13/11.
Outdoor Hour Challenges for families since 2008!
Join other homeschool families growing a love of nature with Outdoor Hour Challenges.