We’ve been focusing on birds in our nature studies lately, so I decided for Outdoor Hour Challenge #6 to take a walk at a nearby park that has a farm with chickens, among other animals. The walk was long and the day was hot, but it was good to be outside and moving. I love how my children don’t need any toys on these outdoor excursions. On our walk this week, they found sticks to play with. These sticks were used in many ways throughout the duration of their walk: X & K dragged the sticks on the ground to create “train tracks,” they used them as walking sticks, they brandished them as lightsabers, they hooked their arms around them and called them butterfly wings.
Task #1- Read and Nature Walk- Read in the Handbook a few pages a subject in my current focus and keep the observation questions in mind as I take my walk. I thought perhaps we would continue to collect feathers as a part of this challenge (to start a collection), so I read the lesson about feathers as clothing. This lesson focused on chicken feathers, which was perfect as we were going to take a walk to the farm to see chickens. I read a few interesting bits to the children about chickens oiling their feathers (and they remembered that Canada Geese do this as well!) and then we took off for the farm.
First, X-man found an area off the path that had many tangled branches curved down a hill, leading into the waters of the creek. He worked hard to pull up a tree branch from the creek and then he found those two sticks that they played with so much during the walk. We spotted a spider crawling in leaves and then I noticed that Z-urchin seemed ready to keep going. So we kept going down the path until they found a hollowed out tree in which they played spaceship for a few minutes.
Baby S fell asleep and took a good nap for the remainder of our nature walk. We saw a few birds, a fallen tree, and Z-urchin was very excited to spot a bus.
We finally arrived at the farm. We saw a goat family and felt a goatskin. We saw many different kinds of chickens. What beautiful feathers they had! We watched them peck at the ground and X-man found pictures of the types of chickens the farm had and all of their names. We had fun trying to identify the different chickens we saw. As we started walking away, we spotted a funny looking bird with a bunch of fluffy feathers sticking out of its head. X-man ran back to the pictures to try to identify it, but didn’t see a picture that looked like the chicken we were seeing. I’ve tried to look it up, but there are so many types of chickens, it will take awhile to look through the pictures. And I don’t know about chickens- can you have different colored feathers in the same breed? Or do all the chickens that are called the same name have the same colored feathers? So much to learn!
We wandered over to a table that held a sheepskin and we buried our hands in the soft wool. Finally, we saw a really big pig! We watched it wander around, noticed that it had an area in his pen with muddy water, and then decided it was high time for lunch. Z-urchin called out to the chickens, “Bye bye eekins!”
Task #2- Discussion- While we were eating lunch at a picnic table in a very open barn nearby, we talked about what we had seen. They thought the chicken with fluffy feathers on its head was hilarious. That was their favorite part of our time at the farm.
Tasks #3-4- Nature Journal and Start a Collection- The kids did not have anything they wanted to put in their nature journal this time. I thought we would find some feathers at the farm, but all of the feathers were on the ground behind the fence, so we couldn’t get to them. Next week, we are visiting a friend who has chickens. Perhaps we’ll find a few feathers there!
Having a specific, set aside time for a Nature Walk during which we make observations and find things we want to learn more about has affected how we spend time outside throughout the week. We went to a park the day after our official nature walk (we needed to get out of the house for a few minutes) and the kids enjoyed watching the creek rush over the rocks, they put their feet in the water for a brief time (it was cold!) and they found soft, velvety purple flowers that they brought home.
On Friday, during Princess’s dance class, the boys and I took our customary walk in the park next door. We saw Canada Geese and I was very impressed that X-man could identify them by name! We watched them eat and made many observations about their beaks and what they must eat. He chased them and we watched them take flight. How interesting to see how different they look while flying than while waddling on the ground. When we walked over to the other side of the park, we saw ducks and now X-man knows the name of the ducks. Z-urchin also was very excited to see ducks! He can identify “duck” and he knows that they say, “quack, quack.” We saw the geese again and X-man exclaimed, “Mommy, they were eating over there and then they flew away and they came here! Here they are!”
Nature Study and the Outdoor Hour Challenge– such a blessing to our family!