This week’s nature walk for Outdoor Hour Challenge #4 was special because we went with a couple of friends! This means that working on being quiet didn’t really happen. On the other hand, a whole lot of running happened, which is just what my non-casted children needed.
Task #1- Read in The Handbook of Nature Study about the use of scientific names and the field journal. I was very encouraged by this: “the purpose of nature-study is to know the subject under observation and to learn the name incidentally.” Such a relief- I do not know the scientific name of very many things. As we do further research, though, we can all discover it together.
I also appreciate the clear rules the author gave regarding the field journal (or nature journal, as we call it): 1- It is the personal property of the child and is not to be criticized. 2- Drawing what is observed rather than writing about it should be encouraged. 3- Do not deal with grammar or spelling in this notebook. 4- Outlines for observing certain plants or animals may be placed in the notebook prior to the excursion. 5- No child should be required to have a notebook.
So this week, I told my kids that these journals belong to them. They may record anything they see in nature in this notebook whenever they wish. I do have one rule that is related to #2: They must attempt to draw what they saw and use faithful colors to the object they are representing. I made this rule to counter my princess’s desire to color everything, from rocks to ducks, pink. I told her that she was welcome to draw on another paper whatever she liked and color it whatever color she wished, but that the nature journal is a record of what she actually saw.
Task #2- Pick a focus. I picked birds because that was what caught my children’s attention yesterday and there are plenty of birds everywhere around our home and in the nearby parks.
Task #3- Nature walk.
We met some friends at a park and all four non-toddler/baby children were charged with finding something interesting. They explored winding trails and the bank of a creek. I carried Z-urchin to a horizontal tree trunk so that he could get out of the stroller. We saw a female mallard duck in the creek and when the boys approached, she flew a short distance, landed with a splash farther down the creek and paddled swiftly away. We had lunch at a picnic table nearby and before long, she had returned with two friends, a male mallard duck and a beautiful white duck. I think they were hoping that we would feed them, for they actually let us get quite close. We observed them for awhile and then my toddler who had been restrained in the stroller again for lunch protested. So we started walking down the paved trail to find more interesting things.
The path was right next to the creek, so we saw many ducks and geese as we walked along. We spotted a Canada goose floating in the middle of a wide part of the creek and X-man was delighted to spot a bright white egret up in a tree. We found a dirt open area with feathers scattered about. There were so many feathers! We collected several to take home for our nature journals. We found a beautiful spot with a bridge and took fun pictures with the kids. It was a lovely walk.
On our way back, I noticed a blue potato bush growing to the side of the trail. I was amazed that I saw and recognized it. I’ve never been all that great at botany. I pointed at the bush and told my kids to take a look. X-man recognized it as the same type of bush that is growing in our backyard. The dawning smile on his face as he recognized this plant was delightful to see.
Task #4- Follow up with discussion and research. I have looked over the pages in The Handbook of Nature Study about birds and geese and I am excited to bring these up with the children soon.
Task #5- Follow up with an opportunity nature journal entry- We taped the feathers we found into our journals, I drew the Canada goose I saw and photographed, and the kids drew mallard ducks.
I am really enjoying our explorations and adventures outside!