Outdoor Hour Challenge #11 Year-Long Tree Study

If you have been following along with the challenges and you picked a focus way back in challenge number four, you should be just about ready to wrap up your first focus study. Our family has been learning about garden flowers but we are soon going to switch over to wildflowers. (This is going along with my son’s study of Kingdom plantae in biology.)

This is a good time to start a seasonal tree study. You will be picking a tree in your yard or neighborhood that you could “adopt” for a year to observe and record the changes in each season. I encourage everyone to start their year long tree study with the group this week. This part of the challenge should take one week to complete and then in our next challenge we will be starting a group focus study of wildflowers or garden flowers.  

Please Note:If your family is enjoying your current focus, you do not need to switch but you can follow your own path and keep us posted.

drawing our tree
Observing our tree Fall 2007

Outdoor Hour Challenge #11
Begin a Four Season Tree Study

1. Read in the Handbook of Nature Study pages 622-623. Also read page 625, Spring Work. After reading, turn to the table of contents, to the tree section, and read the list of trees covered in this book. If possible, pick a tree from the list that you have in your yard, on your street, or in a near-by park that you can observe over the course of the next year. My boys and I have been working on a tree study with an oak tree since August 2007. The changes in the tree have given us something to study in each season. If you live in a more exotic location, like some participants who live in Australia, Brazil, or Spain, do your best to compare your tree to a similar tree in the Handbook of Nature Study. Many of the observations can be used to study a variety of trees.

Before heading out for your nature study time, read the introductory section for your focus tree with your children. Make sure to read the observation suggestions for your particular tree and keep these in mind as you go out to make your observations. You will be challenged in each season of the coming year to make an observation for your tree and record any changes. I have prepared a journal page to record your observations. See the end of the blog entry for a link to the journal page.

2. Take your 10-15 minute outdoor time to study the tree you are going to observe over the next year. We took photos of our tree to put in our nature journal or you can sketch them right into your journal. Keep in mind the suggestions for observation that you read in the Handbook of Nature Study. If you have younger children, just spend your time observing your tree and helping them to look at it closely.

3. Add anything new to your list of items observed in your focus area (challenge #4) that you are keeping in your nature journal. Make note of any additional research that needs to be done to follow up interest found during your Outdoor Hour.

4. Complete the Seasonal Tree Study journal page with your child. Place the page in your nature notebook to have for comparison in the next seasonal tree challenge.
OHC Blog Carnival
5. Post an entry on your blog sharing your experiences. You can link up by clicking the carnival button or you can send them directly to me: [email protected]


You can purchase all of the first ten challenges in a convenient ebook along with custom notebook pages.

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Red-Winged Blackbird on a Spring Day

Red-winged blackbird
You can click the link above and read about this bird and also there is a link to hear his song.


If you click this photo to make it larger, you will notice his little beak is open. He was singing up a storm for us.


Here he is landing in the rushes alongside the pond area at the nursery.

We were out at the nursery on Saturday and the meadow and pond area were full of these beautiful blackbirds. I was able to capture this particular bird by creeping as close as I could and then taking lots of photos. :)

The Handbook of Nature Study has a whole section on red-winged blackbirds so I was able to learn a lot about them from Anna Comstock’s easy to read narrative. The section starts on page 117.

“The red-winged blackbird lives in the marshes where it builds its nest. However, it comes over to our plowed lands and pastures and helps the farmer by destroying many insects which injure the meadows, crops, and trees.” Handbook of Nature Study, page 119

http://handbookofnaturestudy.com/2009/05/outdoor-hour-challenge-birds-crow-red.html

Outdoor Hour Challenge #10 Outdoor Picnic

 

“..by beginning with the child in nature-study we take him to the laboratory of the wood or garden, the roadside or the field, and his materials are the wild flowers or the weeds, or the insects that visit the goldenrod or the bird that sings in the maple tree, or the woodchuck whistling in the pasture.”
Handbook of Nature Study, page 21

Our family eats dinner outside every night from June to September….longer if the weather allows. We have arranged our patio table under a canopy and the citronella candles are always kept nearby. We have a tree that the hummingbirds sip nectar from in the dusk hours and after our meal we sit and observe their dinnertime.
deck and table
Picnics don’t need to be fancy. Wrap up a sandwich in a cloth napkin, grab a piece of fruit, and some water and you are set. Venture outside even if it is only to your own yard to sit on a blanket and enjoy your lunch. Afterwards you can make time for a short period of nature study.
 
Outdoor Hour Challenge #10
Picnic

1. The challenge is to have a picnic. No need to go far or to even have a picnic table. Food always tastes better outside and if you don’t want to commit to a whole lunch, why not just a snack?

“…When the weather is warm, why not eat breakfast and lunch outside?…Besides the benefit of an added hour or two of fresh air, meals eaten outside are often delightful, and there’s nothing like happiness to convert food and drink into healthy blood and bodies.“ Charlotte Mason quote Outdoor Life pg 43

After you eat, sit and listen to the sounds of the spring.

“Given the power of nature to calm and soothe us in our hurried lives, it also would be interesting to study how a family’s connection to nature influences the general quality of family relationships. Speaking from personal experience, my own family’s relationships have been nourished over the years through shared experiences in nature-from sharing our toddler’s wonder upon turning over a rock and discovering a magnificent bug the size of a mouse, to paddling our old canoe down a nearby creek during the children’s school years, to hiking the mountains.” Last Child in the Woods by Richard Louv

2. After your picnic, spend 10-15 minutes observing your surroundings. Add anything new to your list of items observed in your focus area that you are keeping in your nature journal. Make note of any additional research that needs to be done for things your child is interested in. Make a journal entry if you wish.

This challenge is found in the Getting Started ebook which is included in every level of membership. The ebook provides the challenge as shown above as well as custom notebook pages for your follow up nature journal if desired.