Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Nature Study Outing :: Lichen!




This week we went out with something special to look for: lichen!  On our last outing, I noticed that there's a lichen walk to be held locally a couple times over the next few months.  We're planning to go if we're able, but that got me interested--so today we went out to take a closer look at the lichen and mosses at our favorite spot.  I see lichen all over the trees there, but I have never really stopped to observe it, and I don't think the kids had either...which is funny considering how technicolor some of it is in comparison to the brown-and-dry landscape we see here for much of the year!


In addition to taking photos, we brought home some samples to identify...and were somewhat successful. There are so many different varieties of lichen that is was tricky narrowing them down.  I suppose that will make great fodder for discussion with the lichen expert-docent when we meet.  I immediately put a field guide for local lichen on my wishlist.  I know I saw one when we were last at the Santa Cruz Museum of Natural History; I'm regretting not picking it up then!   And we discovered how hard it is to draw moss and lichen without them all just looking like blobs. :)




We also brought home some moss to try growing on our nature shelf for a couple weeks.  It dried out in just a few hours, and the kids were amazed at how it glowed green again almost immediately after I misted it.  Fun!

Of course, there was lots of other sights there too.  We had a great time watching a pair of mallard pals checking us out at the pond.  They obviously thought we had something tasty because they swam right over to us after hearing three-year-old Xavier throw a pebble into the water.  We didn't, but they treated us to a diving show as they grabbed grub from the shallows right next to us.  Xavier could have stayed there watching them forever!






But there were trees to climb, logs to move...




...and gigantic pinecones to examine.  This one (which was about a foot long!) was conveniently split down the middle, allowing us to get an up-close look at its structure.


We also noticed lots of other new growth today--not only the mosses were green!  But more about that another day.

8 comments:

  1. I went out with my oldest three kids for a rain walk on Saturday and we saw some amazing specimens! All the rain we've had up here has made for some beautiful lichen. Some of them (I'm assuming they are lichens, but really I have no idea. I think I need that guide book too!) look like small ferns growing off the tree. On one oak by the creek we saw at least four different kinds growing closely together. If it hadn't been raining, I would have loved to take some pictures... but if it hadn't been raining, I suppose it wouldn't have looked as amazing as it did.

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    1. A rain walk??! So fun! I hope you'll share photos of the lichen and moss where you live if you get the opportunity. I'm finding algae/fungi to be a great mini-focus for winter because, like you said, they're abundant during that season when not much else is. ;)

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    2. OK, I did! http://flareoflight.blogspot.com/2014/02/nature-walk-mosses-and-lichens.html We walked down to the creek again on Tuesday and I finally got a chance to do something with them.

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    3. Thank you for sharing, Amber--checking it out now. :)

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  2. In case you need to make Valentine's Cards. A friend took a picture of lichen that she shot during a nature walk and used the caption, "I'm lichen you!" :D

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  3. How do you plan your nature lesson/studies out for the year? Do you just study what you find or do you have a plan of what you intend to cover over the terms?? THanks!

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    1. Hi Elizabeth! We have done it a number of different ways over the years. Some years we haven't planned at all and just let our own discoveries guide us. Some years we have tried to hit as many docent-led walks as out local nature center offered and based our studies around that. Other years (like this year) we have done nature study as a group and worked to choose one topic for the year, which we then explored in a monthly object lesson/journaling session together. On the off weeks, we were back to simple exploration-based learning. This coming year, we have kind of a large nature study group, so I think we're going to up our lessons to twice monthly, one on a topic (birds) and one on nature journaling and observation skills/practice.

      So the short answer is that for us, it has been a combination of methods over the years, and all have been successful because they have gotten us outside and journaling every week. Whatever works! :)

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