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Winter Series #4 Seasonal Weather

Weather Statistics for February 4, 2010

Sunrise: 7:06 AM
Sunset: 5:28 PM
10 hrs and 22 min of daylight-tomorrow will be 2 minutes and 8 seconds longer
High temperature: 50.8 degrees F
Low temperature: 38 degrees F
Winds: 7 mph S
Rain is predicted to start anytime this evening and rain through Saturday.
No snow…snow level is going to be at around 4500 feet in elevation and we live at around 2300 feet.

Here is a photo from our walk today. The weather was actually pretty overcast and a little chilly. The grasses are turning green though and that is encouraging.
ARC Walk 2 4 10

Here are a couple of weather related photos from the last few weeks.
Rain and Snow Frozen in our "Gauge"
We took this photo a few weeks ago as part of our weather nature study. My son was trying to gauge how much rain we were having and then it started to drop in temperature and to snow. His water in the gauge froze. He noticed there was a thick layer on top and a slushy layer underneath. We had a lot of rain.

Ice on the Broccoli
I thought this was a funny photo. There was a big frozen ice cube on top of my leftover broccoli in my container on the deck.

This week though we have had signs of early spring popping up in our backyard.

Violet 2 10
Violets….mmmmmm. They smell so delicious.

Daffodils 2 10
Daffodils in big bunches all around the yard. I can hardly wait!

We are hoping for some good rain and then perhaps some snow next week so the boys can go snowboarding. I will pack up my snowshoes as well in hopes that I can take a romp in the snow.

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Outdoor Hour Challenge: Winter Series #4 Winter Weather

Outdoor Hour Challenge Winter Series Weather @handbookofnaturestudy

Outdoor Hour Challenge
Winter Series Ebook
Winter Weather

Winter weather is usually pretty interesting to children. Observing snow, ice, rain, fog, hail, or just feeling the cooler air is enough to get them interested in going outdoors for this week’s nature study challenge.

I have a vivid memory from my childhood of taking a walk in a raging downpour. I challenge you to experience your weather outdoors at least for a few minutes this week. Properly dressed, your children might just make a fond memory of their own.

“There is no reason why the child’s winter walk should not be as fertile in observations as the poet’s; indeed, in one way, it is possible to see the more in winter, because the things to be seen do not crowd each other out.”
Charlotte Mason, Volume 1, page 86

Snowy Morning
Inside Preparation Work:
You can read the section in the Handbook of Nature Study on water forms to arm yourself with some basic weather information. Pages 808 to 814 have lots of fun ideas for learning about different aspects of our winter weather.

Optional Inside Preparation Work:
More ideas for winter weather study are found in chapter two of Discover Nature in Winter. There are so many great ideas for studying snow in this chapter that you will find at least two or three that you would like to try with your family. Use your highlighter or sticky notes to mark the places that you find with interesting information or ideas for including in your winter nature study.

Check out the Winter Wednesday entry from last year to glean some ideas for your Winter Weather study: Winter Snow.

Outdoor Hour Time:
This week you can use your time to enjoy the winter weather in your backyard. If you have chosen some weather related activities to complete outdoors, make sure you bring any items you need for your study. You may wish to bring along your weather notebook page or your nature journal with pencils to take a few minutes of your outdoor time to record the weather conditions. If your children are enjoying their time outdoors, you probably want to wait until you go back inside to talk about the weather.

Walking in the snow
Follow-Up Activity:
Be sure to complete your Seasonal Weather notebook page. You could talk about the differences between what you observed in autumn and those things you recorded this time.

  • How is the scene you drew this week different from the autumn scene?
  • How are the temperatures different?
  • Is there a difference in the number of hours of daylight?

Ultimate Ebook Library @handbookofnaturestudy

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Winter Series #3 – Winter Sky

Winter Sky -Sunset 2

We have had nothing but cloudy, rainy, snowy weather since this challenge was posted. There has been no opportunity for much stargazing or moon watching. But, my son noticed this beautiful sunset a few weeks ago and we both had a grand time taking photos of the ever changing light and color.

He took just as many photos as I did I am sure of it. We both remarked that you really need to be watchful for opportunities like this one because they don’t happen every day.

Winter Sky -Sunset

What a wonderful way to marvel at the gifts we have in the every day if we are open to seeing them.

Moon 1 10
Here is a moon shot we have from a few days ago at sunset. We have some clear weather in the forecast so we hope to get out past sunset and work on our constellations.

We are prepared.

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Outdoor Hour Challenge-Winter Series #2 Winter Tree Study



Outdoor Hour Challenge
Winter Series Ebook
Winter Tree Study

Inside Preparation Work:

Now that winter is upon us, let’s take this week and observe the tree we chose last autumn to study during each of the four seasons. This week you will use the suggestions on pages 624-625 of the Handbook of Nature Study to make general winter observations of your tree. You may wish to read through the suggested ideas for studying your tree before heading outdoors so you will have those in mind. If you started a year-long tree study a few months ago during the Autumn Series of challenges, you may want to pull out your nature journal and refresh your memory about your particular tree. Hopefully when you go outdoors you will observe some big changes.

Also, if you have the Discover Nature in Winter book, turn to pages 76-81 for valuable information on branch patterns, tree silhouettes, twigs, and seed containers.

Outdoor Hour Time:
Take your 10-15 minute outdoor time to study your tree. If you are just starting out with a tree study, pick a tree from your yard that you can watch through all four seasons. Have your children make as many observations as possible, perhaps comparing the appearance to how it was during autumn. Another way to record your tree changes is to take photographs in every season. This makes for a very easy nature journal entry once you get back indoors. If your weather is too cold or snowy to go outdoors, you can pick a tree to observe from your window or you can bring in a twig or cone to study from your tree instead.

Simple Suggestions for Winter Tree Study:
1. Pick a tree in your yard or on your street and view its branch patterns and silhouette.
2. Find a tree that has lost its leaves and sketch its shape in your nature journal. This activity can be done from a window if your weather is too cold or snowy.
3. Collect some seeds from trees that may still be left over from last season. Look for sweet gum, locust, yellow poplar, ash, mimosa, or sycamore.
4. Collect twigs from different trees and compare them.

Follow-Up Activity:
After your outdoor time, complete a nature journal entry. If you purchased the Winter Nature Study ebook you will have a custom notebook page or there are several free alternatives by using a general notebook page from the sidebar of my blog, the original Seasonal Tree notebook page, or your own blank journal. You can take photos of your tree to put in your nature journal as well. The Handbook of Nature Study suggests sketching your tree to show its shape as it stands bare. File your nature journal page as a record of the season.

Additional Project:
Anna Botsford Comstock in the Handbook of Nature Study suggests on page 624 to take a twig from your tree in February and look at it carefully. She suggests placing the twig in a vase of water and then leaving it in a warm, light place and see what happens to the buds.

Ultimate Ebook Library @handbookofnaturestudy

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What a Difference a Week Makes!

Backyard in the snow 12 7 09
Our first winter snow! This is the most snow we have had in December ever!

Garden in the Snow
Here is my garden all covered in a blanket of snow. Last week I was hopeful about the broccoli but even the protective frame that I built over the top is covered in snow…..seems like winter has arrived.

We took off on our snowshoes to see what the neighborhood was like on this first snowy morning. Here I am about 1/4 mile from our backstreet. There were a few children out throwing snowballs and a man walking his dog but we pretty much had the whole street to ourselves. I always forget how quiet it is when there is snow.
Leaves in the snow

We lost a few big branches from the trees that still had leaves on them. The evergreens held up pretty well but the oaks and sweet gums just aren’t built for this much snow.

Snow bear and Kona
Later on in the day, we all built what ended up being a snow bear in the front yard. Even our Kona dog “helped”.

The next morning we had icicles like never before.
Today is really, really cold for our area….15 degrees. The ice is thick on the roads and I am hoping my husband is careful on the way to work. He has to travel over the river and then climb up into the mountains to get to his station and yesterday it was treacherous. I can only imagine today’s drive. He has chained up the truck and he assures me he will be careful. I will be waiting for his call once he arrives.

Sunset in the snow
Amanda hiked up to the top of our hill to see the sunset. The sky was pink and lavender and after such a stormy night and morning, it was great to see the sun again.

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Even More Lovely Than I Imagined: Winter Weeds

Our Winter Wednesday – Winter Weed Study

We really enjoyed our Discover Nature in Winter reading in the chapter about winter weeds. It is a totally new topic of nature study for us. I feel like we are just getting our feet wet this year and as the years go by, we will be able to observe more subjects. I gathered a few of our photos from recent walks here at the beginning of the entry.

The one thing that the boys noticed about the winter weeds that we observed is that during this season it is not the flower we are looking at but rather the seeds.

We discussed how the seeds were important at this time of year as food for many of the animals that inhabit the area. We also talked about how the rain and the snow knock the weeds over and as they lay on the ground, they are dispersing their seeds in that way as well.

I hope that we remember to look at these particular plants in the summer to compare the differences. It would make a great nature journal entry.

These last photos are from yesterday’s family hike. We took a couple of hours to hike along the American River which was just roaring! It was the first time that all six of us were out on the trail together in a very long time.I told my husband as we hiked along that it was great to have us all spending time in the fresh air and I relished the conversations and relationships that the kids have with one another.

Here are a few of the weeds we saw as we hiked along.

It was such a great afternoon and as always, with any trip to the river, there was eventually rock skipping….so many lovely rocks to choose from.

How about a wildflower photo from the day?

I love a good purple wildflower photo. 🙂

One last treat from the day…..

A beaver dam!

I am so glad that I organized the Winter Wednesday activities. It has given our family a new perspective on the winter season and another reason to get outside and enjoy the day together.

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Winter Weather Report (part of challenge 50)

We completed our winter weather study today. We had a break in the rain so we could go outside and gather some first hand information.

Yesterday we had a full rainbow out our back window. I don’t know if you can see it because it is so faint but maybe if you click the photo it will show up.

My son completed his winter weather activity….with his own style. He drew the clouds and the view out the window in the big box and a winter scene in the top box.

I realized that maybe we should be doing the seasonal observations on the first day of the season. That means we will need to complete the spring observation in a few weeks.

If you read my blog with any frequency, you will remember that we had quite a bit of snow and very cold weather a few weeks ago. For now, our surroundings seem to be heading quickly towards spring.

Here are some signs that we found today.

My bulbs are pushing up into the sunshine.

Our indoor forsythia is blooming.

Our twig from our tree that we brought inside a few weeks ago is really starting to have leaf buds.

We saw the buckeye starting to leaf out.

The daffodils are blooming.

The plum tree is blossoming this week.

Look’s like spring is coming doesn’t it?

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Winter Tree Study: Our Sweet Gum Tree

This time of year our Sweet Gum tree has lost all its leaves and is totally bare except for a few of the sticker balls hanging here and there.

Here are the tree’s trunk and branches.

My son used the Seasonal Tree Study page to record his observations and his sketch. He looked carefully at and drew the buds on his journal page.

Here is our tree last summer with all its leaves.

We followed the suggestion in the Handbook of Nature Study on page 624 and we took a twig with buds, put it into a vase with water, and then placed it in a warm, light place to see what happens.

I added in some forsythia branches as well to see if they will bloom inside this year.

We really enjoyed watching this tree all year long. We are thinking about choosing a different tree to watch this year.

Twigs in a Vase - Beginning our Twig Study

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Outdoor Hour Challenge #47 Seasonal Tree Study-Winter

Outdoor Challenge #47
Seasonal Tree Observation-Winter

1. We are now completing our full circle study of a tree in our yard. If you completed challenges 11, 20, and 36, you will now be observing your tree in its fourth season. This week you will use the suggestions on pages 624-625 of the Handbook of Nature Study to make general winter observations of your tree. You can record your thoughts either in your nature journal or on the Seasonal Tree Study page provided below.

2. Take your 10-15 minute outdoor time to study your tree. If you are just starting out with a tree study, pick a tree from your yard that you can watch through all four seasons. The Handbook of Nature Study suggests taking a twig from your tree and looking at the tree’s buds carefully. See page 624 #3 for more details.

3. After your outdoor time, complete your Seasonal Tree Study notebook page or record your tree observations in your nature journal. You can take photos of your tree to put in your nature journal. The Handbook of Nature Study suggests sketching your tree to show its shape as it stands bare. Take a few minutes to talk about your time outdoors to see if there is anything that your child wants to learn more about. Follow up any interest shown.

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

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Wilson Bentley: Snowflake Man

Recently I have become acquainted with a man who seems like a kindred spirit. He lived a long time ago but I think we both share a fascination with nature, snowflakes in particular. He had a mother that encouraged him in his interests and gave him a great gift. May we all give our children this same gift….one of helping to feed their passions.

Here is a YouTube video with Bentley’s own words and story. I invite you to watch this short video.

This is another video you may enjoy watching too.You will have to click over to YouTube to watch this one. I have not watched all the videos that come up after this one so please preview any other videos that may pop up.
Masters of Photography: Wilson Snowflake Bentley
Edit to add: My daughter on her blog, Hearts and Trees, shared a short video on how to catch snowflakes last year. Here is your link:
Snow Day Science