Monday, October 18, 2010

The Outdoor Hour

I am very excited that we will be participating in The Outdoor Hour sponsored by Barb at Handbook of Nature Study.

I am currently reading Pocketful of Pinecones by Karen Andreola, as recommended by Barb. It has certainly prompted my interest in being involved in a nature study. I am looking forward to ordering the Handbook of Nature Study by Anna Comstock, the recommended field guide to use in our study.

Barb recommends that new participants do the first five lessons, then jump in with the whole group on their Lesson 6. That is what we did this week.

We did Lesson 1 which is as follows:

1. Read pages 1-8 of the Handbook of Nature Study. Highlight or underline anything that you as the nature study teacher find will help you in your guiding your children. If you read a sentence that you agree with, mark it so you will remember to come back to it when you need some encouragement.

2. "In nature-study the work begins with any plant or creature which chances to interest the pupil." So here is your challenge this week. Spend 10-15 minutes outdoors with your children, even if it is really cold and yucky. Bundle up if you need to. Take a walk around your yard or down your own street. Enjoy being outdoors. After you come inside, sit the children down and ask them one at a time to tell you something that they saw on their walk. Ask them what was interesting to them. Maybe they picked up a leaf or a stick and brought it back indoors and now they can really take a look at it. Make a big deal about whatever it is that they talk about.

3. After your discussion, come up with two things to investigate further. For instance, if they saw a bird on their walk and they came inside and talked about it, ask them if they want to know more about that bird. You have a whole week to spend some time looking it up. Maybe they found an acorn or a berry on a bush that they were interested in. That could be your focus for the week.

4. After your nature study time with the children, pull out your Handbook of Nature Study and see if the item the children are interested in is listed in the index. If it is, look up the information for yourself and then relate interesting facts to the children sometime during the next week.

We live on a one-acre piece of property off of a bluff about 4 miles outside of town. It is a subdivision, but is full of nature. We spent our time walking around our own piece of property.

The first thing we noticed was a large grasshopper on our driveway. Brynne noticed that he was the colors of the grass and we discussed how God made the grasshopper to be the same colors as the grass so he could blend in, to not only protect himself, but to also enable him to hunt for his own food without being detected. Brynne is typically very scared of bugs, insects or anything of the sort. But our new friend sat very still so we could look him over. We were even able to get close enough to see the spines on his legs.

Then we walked out further onto our property and were amazed at the thousands of acorns all over the ground. We need a few hundred of them for a craft party at my son's school, so we started collecting them. I mentioned that the squirrels might be upset with us for taking their acorns which prompted a discussion about how the squirrels collect acorns during the season when they fall to the ground so that they have plenty of food to eat during the winter months.

She told me she was going to go look in our backyard. She came upon her favorite thing to do in nature ... swing!

Later Brynne drew and colored an acorn and we glued it into her new Nature Journal.

This week I plan to look up information on the anatomy of a grasshopper, to discuss the spines on it's legs, and which animals eat acorns.

This was fun! And I can't wait to dig deeper next week!

If you want to join in, go here to see how to get started!

We are linking up at Handbook of Nature Study.

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