Jerusalem Cricket: Our Outdoor Hour #2

This morning we had our official Outdoor Hour Challenge #2 time outside in the sunshine…we had a whole weekend of rain and wind making the sunshine all the more inviting.

My son found a “huge, ugly, insect” on the pavement and he wanted me to come and share in the ugliness. I am not a bug person. I am an outdoor nature-loving person, but definitely not a bug person. I am learning to not be so disgusted by insects and usually make friends with whatever we find after learning about it. If you are squeamish, close your eyes to the photos below.

J Cricket 2
Top View
J Cricket 1
Bottom View

Here are his words for the assignment:

  • Chirping
  • Fascinating Alien (bug)
  • Shiver cold wind


We came in and used our Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Insects and Spiders to identify the insect.

It looked like a grasshopper to my son so we turned to the section for grasshoppers, crickets, and cicadas. What do you know? It was the *first* insect in the section. Bingo! Then we turned to the page that gave the description of the Jerusalem cricket and we found that we are within the range and habitat for this insect. After reading the size and brief description, our identification was verified. This one was easy. Insects are not always that simple to put a name to. I must admit that my older son said that it looked like a potato bug. Guess what? He was right too, Jerusalem crickets are also known as potato bugs.

Here is his journal entry.
J Cricket Sketch

To make up for the really yucky bug photo, here is one of violets we saw growing in our lawn.
Violets

So I think we were successful this week in our assignment. I did all my reading and enjoyed it very much as expected. We actually had quite a bit of outdoor time this past week cutting a tree down in our backyard. We also identified two new birds this past week.

https://handbookofnaturestudy.com/2010/08/ohc-summer-series-10-crickets.html

 

Evening Grosbeak in My Feeder and How We Identify a Bird

Very little compares to identifying a new bird in your feeder. This one was so unusual that we just couldn’t stop looking at it.

The photo does not do it justice. It is bright yellow, with distinct markings of black and white. It was fairly good size so we got a pretty good look at it.

Although the photo didn’t turn out well, the memory will be forever with us.

We identified this bird as an Evening Grosbeak.

Yesterday we saw a bunch of blue birds that we had never seen before. We were out driving in the car when we saw nesting boxes all along a fence. We saw flashes of blue and realized that they were birds fighting, not only in the air but on the ground. The birds were very aggressive. When we got home we pulled out our field guide and identified the birds as Western bluebirds.

I shared the following information with a friend about how I identify a bird by explaining how I identified the Evening grosbeak. I personally like using the Audubon Society’s Field Guide to Birds.

Steps I Use To Identify a Bird
1. When I am trying to identify a bird, I rely heavily on color. The bird we saw in our feeder was a bright yellow so that narrowed it down as far as identifying it. The Audubon guide that I suggested for birds is organized by type of bird (clinging, perching, duck-like, etc) and then by predominant color. This makes it fast to skim through a lot of birds visually.
2. After I look at color and general type, I look at size. (sparrow-size, robin-sized, goose-size, etc) The Aububon guide does group from smallest to largest.
3. After color, type, and size, I look at beaks. This is really easy in the Aububon guide because on the photo pages there are three bird photos on a page so there are less pages to look through.
4. If I hit on the right bird by doing that method, I usually do a Google image search on the internet to confirm my findings. If I missed and didn’t get the right bird but I am in the right ball park, I go to whatbird.com and do a search there.

That pretty much sums it up. I know that others have different methods for identifying birds with a field guide but this works for our family.

It was a big bird weekend around here. I love it.

https://handbookofnaturestudy.com/2009/04/outdoor-hour-challenge-birds.html

Outdoor Hour Challenge #2: Using Your Words

Outdoor Hour Challenge #2
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)


The point of this assignment is to get them to start thinking about what they see as they go along. Each time they take a nature walk they will develop more and more vocabulary and this will eventually trickle down to their nature journals. If they have difficulty coming up with things to say, help them out with some of your own words to get them started and they will soon catch on. Once we start identifying objects they see on their nature walks, you will be surprised at how easily they remember the specific names of plants, trees, and birds.

4. Optional nature journal entry:
Use their words as the basis for a simple nature journal entry. If the child is too young to write in the journal himself, you can write for them. “Everything he learns should be added to his nature notebook by him or, if he’s too little to write, his mother.” Charlotte Mason, volume 1, page 58.

At this point, you can pull out some colored pencils or crayons and invite them to illustrate their nature journal page if they want to. I always leave it as an option for my boys and I would say about half the time they draw. I feel like the nature walk and the discussion is the meat of our nature study and that it is the most important part of what we do. “No child should be compelled to have a notebook.” HNS page 14 (Next week we will read about drawing in our nature journals in the Handbook of Nature Study, page 17.)

5. If in your discussion of your nature walk your child expresses a particular interest in something they saw or heard or felt, make a note of it for further research later in the week. Remember to check your Handbook of Nature Study index for more information about your nature interests.

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.