Friday, December 14, 2012

Nature Study Outing - Cold!

It was chilly this morning--in the 30s!  (That's not all that common in our area, even on winter mornings.)  But we bundled up and had a great nature group walk--very productive and lots of fun.  Some questions that came up today during our walk and while working in our nature journals back at home:

:: Why do squirrels eat only parts of some pinecones, while others they strip almost clean?
:: What is sap for?  And what are the bumps that look like frozen sap on the pine trees?
:: How are oak galls formed?
:: If the locust pod is so tricky to open, how do the seeds end up scattering in the wild?
:: How does the creek dry up so quickly between storms?  Where does all that water go?
:: Why are pinecones such different sizes?

I think we have some homework for the weekend!

And an update on our Squirrel Signs question

more squirrel claw scratches on an oak tree--hard to see, but they're there!

My kids were very excited to find these--it clarified for them that yes, squirrels do have to use their claws to climb, even on gnarled trunks.  The scratches are just more obvious on smooth bark.

I also wanted to share some little sketches from my three-year-old daughter.  When we get home each week from our nature study outing, she usually sits at the table and colors while her older siblings draw in their nature journals.  Usually her drawings are more imaginative (fancy "letters," stick-figure ladies in dresses, and whatnot), but today she wanted to draw some of our finds, and her work was surprisingly realistic and very sweet.

clockwise from very left: locust seed pod, oak leaf, sycamore ball, tiny acorn, another seed pod, and a pinecone at the very bottom :)

And on a day like today, I can't resist adding a gratuitous shot of one of my bundled-up toddlers, along for the ride:

We have two infants in the group (one of them being mine) and boy, did they sure look cute fast asleep in all their cold-weather layers today--I wish I had gotten a photo of them also.  I'm feeling very thankful today to spend my days at home with all my children, whether we're traipsing around the park in the cold or having tea at the kitchen table like we're doing now.  

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