Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Nature Study Outing - Choosing a Tree

Last week we met up for our first official nature study outing of the new school year.  Now that the kids are a bit older and we have had a chance to explore a decent number of the local parks, we decided to make our outings for this year a bit more focused.  We're hoping to rotate between two or three meeting spots and have a focus or activity in mind for each week.  Those ideas will come from Partridge's Natural Science Through the Seasons: 100 Teaching Units, as well as Comstock's Handbook of Nature Study and various other Charlotte Mason-friendly resources.  Some of the activities will be worked on over time (like mapping the species at a familiar park) and some will be outing-specific (like comparing the bark of a group of various trees)  And of course there will be plenty of running around and casual fun with friends as well!

For our first meet-up, the children each picked their own tree to observe over the course of the year at what will be one of our regular locations.  We spent some time walking through the park to find trees that show plenty of seasonal change, and then the children made sketches and observed carefully.  We grabbed a leaf from each one and took a few photos, and they finished up their drawings at home.  They are already looking forward to their next visit to see how "their tree" has changed.

There was also plenty of time for climbing rocks, chasing a woodpecker from trunk to trunk, and watching the Canada geese, whom my 3yo describes as the "not-scawee kind"--as opposed to the white geese, who are a bit more aggressive. ;)

And one last tree-related note: we wandered over to a small grove of pepper trees and what we assume are oaks with these amazingly shaggy trunks.  

The trees were immense, branching out ten or so feet off the ground, and the main upper branches had a yellow-orange tint with a serpentine pattern of furrows.  Leaves were 1-2 inches long, unlobed, finely toothed. 

 Anyone know what kind it is?

Here's to a great start to another year of nature study outings!

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