Sunday, August 9, 2009

Outdoor Challenge #4 & #5

I just realized that I never published our expereince with challenge #4. Although I wrote it last week I seemed to have saved it in draft format. So I added this week's #5 to it.
Challenge #4
The Outdoor Hour Challenge this week was to walk outdoors and observe. The challenge was to notice what your child pays attention to and develop a focus area. The next challenges will involve discussing and researching the chosen focus area.
I found this passage in the recommended Handbook of Nature Study reading very inspiring:
"The child should never be required to learn the name of anything in the nature-study work; but the name should be used so often and so naturally in his presence that he will learn it without being conscious of the process."

Why this passage strikes me so, I am not sure. I know very few scientific names for things. In fact, when I was required to learn the scientific names for things in school I am pretty sure I purposely ignored the teacher because of the irrelevance of this knowledge to life. The idea behind this statement is what really captured me. We are new to nature study but have always been nature observers and enjoyers. I have no idea how to "teach" about nature. But this statement is reassuring in that I really don't need to teach anything, just set a good example.
We really enjoyed the park we went to this week. It was new one for us, close enough to get to quickly and just enough nature for observing. It is a city park, not a preserve, but beautiful just the same. After discussing all the plants and animals we saw today, Ms. Q decided that her focus area will be butterflies!

Challenge #5
For this challenge we brought a friend and spent most of the day hiking through the pinelands.
We tried to keep focused on looking for butterflies but there didn't seem to be very many. According to an article I read in the local newspaper, our over abundance of rain this summer has dramatically decreased the number of butterflies in our area. It did however increase the number of mushroom varieties we saw on our hike. We saw over 20 different kinds! The different colors, shapes, and sizes had the girls running with the camera from one spot to another.
The highlight of our hike was this little guy (or gal):
The girls thought it was so cool how (s)he covered up with the leaves in order not to be seen. This led to an interesting conversation about camouflage in nature and how animals use it for protection from predators.
Other highlights included a set of deer tracks that Ms. Q identified and attempted to follow, a salamander climbing on a tree trunk, and an observation deck overlooking a fast moving stream.
Here are some pictures from our day:


Barb-Harmony Art Mom said...

Great entry for #4 and #5! That is very interesting about your lack of butterflies this will fun to record those you do see and then compare next summer to see if there is an increase.

I love the turtle! Wow, great find on this walk.

Your photos of the water are so beautiful.

20 kinds of mushrooms! Wow, that will give you some things to look up.

Thanks for sharing your entry,
Barb-Harmony Art Mom

Mrs. Brooke said...

My girls would be so thrilled to find a tortoise! Thanks for sharing, I love reading others' nature adventures.