During the past few years that we’ve been participating in the Outdoor Hour Challenge at Handbook of Nature Study, I’ve been intrigued by the idea of doing a year long tree study, to really get to know a tree and be intentional about observing it in its different seasons. I have observed the trees in my last two backyards (with our Montmorency Cherry Tree I struggled to identify and last year’s Dogwood tree ) in all of the seasons, but this year, I want to intentionally study a tree in our backyard with the kids. Charlotte Mason herself said, “Children should also become familiar with trees at an early age. They should pick about six in the winter when the leaves are gone, perhaps an elm, a maple, a beech, etc, and watch them during the year.”
Our favorite tree in our backyard is our apple tree (of course). So today (thought it is not winter), we started our year long study by taking our nature journals outside to the backyard, grabbing some leaves and apples from the tree, tasting the fruit, drawing the tree, leaf, and apple in our journals, and then reading a book about apples.
The apples on our tree are small-medium sized and green. They are mildly crisp and taste sweet. There sure are a lot of them.
As we drew our trees, leaves, and apples in our nature journals, we discussed questions we have about the tree that we’d like to find out this year. These questions include: What kind of apples are on our tree? Will the leaves change color? What color will they be? How do we take care of our apple tree? We wrote these questions in our journals so that we could remember to look into these things.
Finally, we read the book Apples by Gail Gibbons. We’ve read this book before- last year, when we did an apple study after going apple picking. But it was still good to review the basic information about apples. The book explained what happens to the apple tree from seedling to fruit bearing tree and then what it does throughout the seasons. So when I asked the kids what they could expect from our apple tree based on this book, they explained that they thought by wintertime the apples and leaves would all fall off the branches and then in spring they expect blossoms on the branches. We’ll be watching to see if this is true!