This homeschool nature study will have you looking at winter birds and in particular the sweet little chickadee.
I consider this particular challenge as a personal lesson/revelation that nature knows no borders. You see when we first started using the Outdoor Hour Challenge and this little bird popped up as the focus of our weekly studies I was disappointed. I live in the UK and we have different birds to those of you in the States. I didn’t think that we would be able to follow along and it was so early on in our nature study days that I did not have the confidence to just find something else on our walk.
As I was gazing out of the dining room window at our bird feeder pondering on my dilemma, who should come along but a coal tit!
They are no stranger to our feeders along with their cousins the great tit, blue tit and those sweet mouse-like birds, the long-tailed tit.
The coal tit looks remarkably similar to the chickadee. After a bit of investigating I discovered that the American Chickadee and the British tits are all in the same genus. Yes, we may live across the pond and have wildlife that is unique to each country but there are similarities and connections.
From that challenge on if it was focussed on an animal or plant unique to the States, I would simply see if we had something similar and go with that. So please be encouraged to do the same whatever country you live in.
Nature Study Lesson Plans for Chickadee Nature Study
Here are some inside preparation ideas for your chickadee nature study:
Read in the Handbook of Nature Study pages 68-69 (Lesson 14).
Highlight a few of the questions in the lesson to use during your outdoor time.
Check your bird field guide, using the index to look for chickadees in your area. Share the images with your children.
Use some of your outdoor time this week to look for backyard birds. Chickadees should be present during the winter season and are often found at backyard feeders. Remember the questions from the Handbook of Nature Study lesson and gently guide your children to observe the chickadee to find the answers. Chickadees are often seen with nuthatches and downy woodpeckers and are attracted to feeders that offer suet and black oil sunflower seeds.
In areas that do not have chickadees, observe another feeder bird and their habits. Do they sit on the feeder or under the feeder? Which kinds of food do they like? What do they sound like? How big are they? How many of them are at the feeder?
Chickadee Nature Study HomeschoolFollow-Up Activity:
Follow-up your outdoor time by pulling out your bird field guide to identify and/or confirm any bird observations. If you saw a chickadee, have your child describe the bird with as much detail as possible. If they have trouble remembering, bring up an image on the computer to help them along.
If desired, allow time for a nature journal entry. Ebook users: Complete a Chickadee notebook page (regular or advanced) or a Winter Feeder Bird notebook page entry to capture the memory of your time outdoors. There is an optional coloring page included in the ebook.
Winter weeds are a quick and easy nature study topic that you can complete in your yard or neighborhood, or at a local park or alongside a road (be watchful of traffic). Spend a few minutes this week to take notice of any weeds you may have, searching for seeds or signs of animals feeding nearby.
Easy And Engaging Homeschool Nature Study
You can use these links for some specific Winter Homeschool Nature Study ideas:
Getting Started With The Outdoor Hour Challenge In Your Homeschool Nature Study
Download your free copy of our Getting Started ebook and complete challenge #6. You may wish to make a list of weeds you observed in winter and then check the list during the summer to see if you can add some more entries.
Join The Homeschool Nature Study Membership For Support All Year Long
This week we will ease back into our winter nature study using a simple nature walk idea from the archives. Click over to read the full challenge, including a bit of reading in the Handbook of Nature Study. If you are new to the OHC, this is going to be a great place to start because even if you don’t have snowy weather you can still complete this challenge that will help you see your local winter weather and wonders with your children.
Keep it simple and just take a Winter Wonder walk this week. If you are a more seasoned nature study type family or you have older students, make sure to read the “advanced study” ideas in the challenge.
If you are interested in purchasing an Ultimate Naturalist Membership at this time, you will gain access to the custom notebooking pages that go along with each of the challenges in the ebook.
Note: You do not need to purchase the ebook to participate but they are handy to have for planning and for the regular and advanced notebook pages included in each one. Click the graphic at above to go over to check out the Ultimate Naturalist Library membership.
We will be working through a new series of wildflower challenges starting in April using a new ebook that will publish sometime in March. The new wildflower ebook will also be added to the Ultimate Naturalist Library so if you purchase a membership now, you will have the new ebook as soon as it is available. I will posting details about the new ebook soon.
Getting Started Suggestion:
If you already own the Getting Started ebook, complete Outdoor Hour Challenge #7.Use the ideas in this challenge to start your own personalized field guide to your backyard and neighborhood. Keep it simple and start with a common insect to your area.
When you spend a lot of time outdoors during the winter months, you are bound to notice the various shapes and sizes of winter weeds. Maybe it the lack of other nature study subjects or the more subdued color palette of the winter landscape, but weeds are hard to miss.
These particular images were taken at Yosemite National Park during our last visit in January. The stalks are still standing tall and the fruits are still visible on many of the plants. I am pretty sure this is Common Cowparsnip.
This set of images comes from our hike at Lake Tahoe last month. The winter weeds are clearly seen emerging from the snowy landscape.
This is a different plant and had far more seeds left attached to the stalks.
Rather pretty isn’t it? Focusing on winter weeds is one way to see the beauty even in the winter scene. I hope this encourages your own winter weed study…one that you can fit in while taking a short walk.
Our winter continues to be warmer than normal…even record-breaking temperatures. As much as I love the warm afternoons and sunshine, I am concerned for the drying up reservoirs and the very dry forest conditions. I know I have no power to bring on the rain and snow so I am trying to make the best of it.
I took an image of the page with my phone and we used that during our hike to remember the things we were looking for as we went.
Here are our results:
Buds on a tree
We decided this duck weed was more interesting than moss.
Trees that have lost all their leaves – aspens
a bird – Steller’s Jay
We didn’t find any berries but this rose hip was certainly colorful.
Something with thorns
Pinecones – The squirrels had lunch on the picnic table!
One last image from our hike at Taylor Creek. The beavers have been clear cutting a lot of the trees along the water. They have quite a few trees that are ready to fall as well. The dam is getting huge! Amazing creatures with incredible strength.
We are still waiting for some real snow here and I will keep the snow study in the back of my mind for a future time. I hope some of you were more successful with this challenge or you took advantage of the scavenger hunt instead.
This week we are going to be completing the World of Color challenge from the Winter Wednesday ebook. This challenge invites you and your family to take a walk outdoors and find some color in your winter world. Even if you have to complete this challenge from your window, it will help train your eyes to see the bursts of color that are out there if you look carefully enough.
Original Challenge: The World of Color.
Don’t worry if you don’t have the Discover Nature in Winter book to use along with the challenge. Take the ideas listed in the blog post to complete a simple color hunt with your children and then follow up with an entry in your nature journal. The journal can be simply a list of colorful things you saw or a sketch of something your child found interesting. Make this a no-pressure challenge for your child.
There are a few other ideas in the ebook to try if you don’t want to go outside for this challenge. Color Cards For Your Winter Color Study
Use these color word cards to stimulate a fun nature study related activity. See how many of the colors you can find during your winter color hunt.
TIPS: These cards can be printed on cardstock or cut and pasted to index cards. If you only have a black and white printer, have your children color the words or the border with markers before going outside. Printable Color Word Cards
Getting Started Suggestion:
If you already own the Getting Started ebook, complete Outdoor Hour Challenge #1.This is the perfect challenge to just take a simple walk outdoors with your children as part of completing challenge #1.Make sure to follow up your outdoor time with a discussion to find out one or two things your child would like to know more about. Don’t worry that you won’t know the answers to any questions they may have…just take the opportunity to learn together using internet resources or a trip to the library.
Getting Started Suggestion:
If you already own the Getting Started ebook, complete Outdoor Hour Challenge #6. Use the printable notebook page in this challenge to record some of the things you collect for your winter-themed nature table.
You may wish to follow my Pinterest – Nature Display board for additional ideas.
Outdoor Hour Challenge December World Observations
This challenge will help you appreciate your world during the month of December. This slowing down to make careful observations during December will help your child have something to compare with in each successive season. Learning the cycles of the natural world helps your child gain confidence by being about to distinguish the joys and blessings of each month of the year.
We have make careful observations in the past using the challenges listed below. If you would like an additional challenge, use the Shadows and Silhouettes activity below.
This really simple photo challenge can be accomplished at any time of the year. Before setting out for your outdoor time, sit with your children and discuss what a shadow and a silhouette are and how to find them. Allow them to take a photo of any shadows or silhouettes they observe during your nature walk. Print one or two of the photos for their nature journal.
Getting Started Suggestion:
If you already own the Getting Started ebook, complete Outdoor Hour Challenge #2. Finding words to record in your nature journal after your walk outside is an easy way to remember the experience. Make sure to discuss the walk afterwards with your child and then help them complete the accompanying notebook page for this challenge.
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