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The Outdoor Hour ~ Lesson #2

Our day didn't turn out the way we had expected ... it was better!!

I had intended for us to skip Lesson #2 and go straight to this week's topic on Apples. The kids and I planned to drive an hour away to a working apple orchard, pick apples, buy many varieties, have a picnic, go through the pumpkin patch, buy a couple more pumpkins, come home and bake some applesauce and cobbler.

I just happened to remember that last year the orchard was not open for picking because of the previous winter's ice storm. So I decided to call before we left. Guess what ... the orchard is not open this year either!  Ohhhhhh how disappointed I would have been {not to mention the kids} if we would have driven that hour for nothing!

I suggested we go to a park today instead and have a picnic there. And sweet Brynne said, "I know, we can take apples!" My little problem-solver.

It was here that I decided that we would do Lesson #2, as we should have done anyway. Lesson #2 is as follows:

Using Your Words
1. Read page 15 in the Handbook of Nature Study. (The Field Excursion) Read page 23-24 in the Handbook of Nature Study. (How to Use This Book) Make note of any points you want to remember. My favorite is "The chief aim of this volume is to encourage investigation rather than to give information." This is where many people misunderstand the HNS. It is not a field guide but it teaches us how to help our children with nature study.

2. "It is a mistake to think that a half day is necessary for a field lesson, since a very efficient field trip may be made during the ten or fifteen minutes at recess, if it is well planned." Challenge yourself to take another 10-15 minute "excursion" outdoors in your own yard again this week. Before setting out on your walk, sit with your children and explain to them that when you remain quiet during your nature time, you are more likely to hear interesting things. Brainstorm some sounds they might hear and build some excitement about remaining quiet during their nature walk this week. Take your walk and if they get rowdy, use the universal finger over your lips sign to get them to quiet down. Set a good example and be quiet yourself, modeling how to listen carefully.

3. After your walk, challenge your children to come up with words to describe the following things:
One word to describe something they heard. (For example: rustling, snapping, crunching or chirping)
Two words for something they saw. (For example: tall trees, frozen water, red birds)
Three words for something they felt. (For example: freezing cold wind, rough sticky pinecone)

We arrived at the park and picked a shady spot for our picnic. We nibbled a little and the kids wanted to play on the equipment for a bit. But it wasn't long before they were drawn to the geese and ducks in the lake.

We spent the next hour and a half walking around the perimeter of the lake "looking for clues", according to Eli. I instructed the kids to walk quietly and listen to the sounds around them. We heard water rushing, leaves rustling in the wind, airplanes flying overhead, ducks quacking, geese honking, leaves crunching as we walked. We saw lots of trees and ducks and geese and flowers and other birds and loose feathers and sticks (oh how Eli loves sticks). And we touched and felt as much as we could get our hands on {or faces in one case}.

When we were done exploring I had the children tell me in ONE word something they heard. Eli said "goose". Brynne said "leaves". I had them tell me in TWO words something they saw. Eli said "long bridge". Brynne said "picture tree". Then I had them tell me in THREE words something they felt. Eli said "white spider web ". Brynne said "soft goose feather".

After our walk we finished our lunch, talked about our walk, played some more, met some new friends and ran into another one from homeschool coop.

The day was just as it should have been!

{On a side note. I had just finished Pocketful of Pinecones by Karen Andreola. I had stopped at the library just before going to the park to return it, and pick up some other books I had ordered. When I got to the park I noticed that I had forgotten to return the book. At the end of our park stay I ran into a friend of mine, who has also just started homeschooling. I told her that today we were doing our nature study and explained it to her briefly. I told her about Barb's Handbook of Nature Study blog, but she said she has a difficult time getting onto websites because of some firewalls on their home computer. And then it hit me ... loan her the book! I am convinced that's why returning the book to the library had slipped my mind and why I had run into this friend on this day. She will love the book.}

We are linking up at Handbook of Nature Study. Go there to see other nature lovers!


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