Well, our summer is off to a great start and with the focus on using our senses we are observing far more than we usually do even on a casual basis. The evenings here have been perfect for nature study and last night we were out and about just at sundown. We saw a fox! He was a big guy with a beautiful tail, more than likely a Gray fox. He stopped for just the briefest of moments and looked right at us before he darted off into the brush. Amazing sight!
Summer Series #2
Seasonal Tree: Summer Tree Observations
“The leaf is a factory; the green pulp in the leaf cells is part of the machinery; the machinery is set in motion by sunshine power; the raw materials are taken from the air and from the sap containing food from the soil; the finished product is largely starch. Thus, it is well when we begin a study of the tree to notice that the leaves are so arranged as to gain all the sunlight possible, for without sunlight the starch factories would be obliged to ‘shut down’ “.
Anna Botsford-Comstock, Handbook of Nature Study
Train Your Senses
- Sight: Look closely at the bark and leaves. Stand or lay under your tree and look up. Use a magnifying lens to look at the bark and leaves. Look for birds, animals, or insects in your tree. Look for all the parts of your tree: trunk, crown, branches, and spray.
- Smell: Smell the bark. Rub a leaf and see what it smells like.
- Touch: Close your eyes and feel the bark. Feel the leaf or needle from your tree and describe its texture.
- Hearing: Quietly sit under your tree for one minute. Can you hear the leaves or branches moving? Can you hear a bird in the tree or insects buzzing near the tree?
- Taste: If your tree has fruit, you can choose to taste the fruit.
Inside Preparation Work:
Read pages 618-620 in the Handbook of Nature Study: The Parts of a Tree. For your summer tree study, make sure you read the information on these pages so you have in mind the parts of a tree: trunk or bole, head or crown, spray, and branch. Also, make sure you have a general idea of how a tree makes its own food by reading in the section, How a Tree Grows, on pages 620-622. Your job will be to relate any of this information that you think might be of interest to your child as you study your tree.
Note: If you have the free PDF version of the HNS, you will need to look in the Trees and Plant Life ebook, pages 240-243. If you have the free download of the entire HNS, you will need to look on pages 726-729.
Outdoor Hour Time:
Your tree should have its leaves now and we are going to spend 10-15 minutes of your outdoor time using the ideas from the Handbook of Nature Study to do some focused observations of your tree. Remember you may want to start using the proper vocabulary for the parts of a tree when you are completing your tree observations.
After your outdoor time, complete a nature journal entry using the notebook page provided for the Summer Series, the original notebook page, or your own blank journal. Photos of your tree are a good record in your nature journal as well. This might be a good season to press a few of the tree’s leaves for your nature journal.
Here is my simple press idea: How to Make a Flower Press.
If you would like all the Summer Series Challenges in one place, I have an ebook gathered for you to purchase for your convenience. Here is a link to a complete description:
Summer Series of Outdoor Hour Challenges