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Silent Nature Walk – Winter Nature Study with the OHC

Winter Wonder Collage

  • Take a Winter Weather Walk and observe as many things in your neighborhood as possible that are special about the winter season.
  • Advanced study: Challenge yourself to take a walk keeping completely silent. Go as a family or all alone.

After checking our weather for the next few weeks, we realized that a winter weather nature walk was not going to happen any time soon. Our Winter Wonder Walk became our Silent Nature Walk instead. This was part of the advanced study suggested for the first challenge from the More Nature Study Book 2 ebook plans.

Winter Wonder walk - Silent Activity
We loaded up the Kona dog and headed to our favorite local trail. Mr. B started off ahead of me so we wouldn’t be tempted to talk. This was a good plan since it also separated us a little as we walked and it seemed that we were all alone which allowed the sounds of the woods to be easily heard.

Ferns along the trail
A few of the things I observed on our Silent Nature Walk:
1. Greenness of the ferns growing alongside the trail on the hillside.
2. Dry trail with acorns..crunching leaves.
3. Birds singing in the woods. The only one I recognized is the Northern Flicker. I also heard some wing flutters coming from the bushes lining the path.
4. The buzz of an insect which I couldn’t see.
5. I noticed a pile of feathers where some forest animal had made a meal.

Winter Wonder walk Advanced Notebook Page
Mr. B wrote his observations on a notebook page when we got home and I was impressed with the different things he noted that I missed as noted below:
1. He heard five birds.
2. He noticed the river’s rushing sound and how it changed as we walked down the canyon.
3. Scrunch of the needles and the pat of the dirt.

He brought home an acorn to sketch into his journal and I brought home a few samples of ferns, an acorn, a weed, and a feather.
Wood fern - back
I was fascinated by the spores on the back of the ferns. I won’t detail here all I learned from the Handbook of Nature Study on ferns but we will in the future have a challenge featuring ferns. I found a wealth of information in Lesson 195 on the fruiting of the fern. There is always something new and interesting to learn.

Western Sword Fern - back
I identified my ferns as the Wood Fern, the Western Sword Fern, and California Maidenhair Fern.

Winter Wonder Walk Journal
Silence. It is a great way to glean a little more from a walk if you can give it a try. I have to admit that several times on the walk when I couldn’t see Mr. B or the Kona dog that I was a little uneasy. It can be too quiet sometimes. I think we become accustomed to having background noise in our life from the computers, the clocks, music, traffic, and each other. Seeking out the quiet is something I think we should do on a regular basis and I will be adding this to future challenges, at least for the advanced study option. I encourage you to grow your children into the habit of spending a least a few minutes of every outdoor nature study time being silent and really listening.

More Nature Study #2 button

It is not too late to join us for this new series of nature study challenges using the Handbook of Nature Study. All of the challenges for this series are gathered into an ebook format along with custom made notebook pages. Click over and see the details and join us this week for a new posted challenge on Friday.

OHC More Nature Study Book 2: Winter Wonder Walk Challenge

Outdoor Hour Challenge Winter Wonder Walk @handbookofnaturestudy

More Nature Study Book 2
Winter Weather Walk

Inside Preparation Work:

    • Read the “How to Use This Book” section in Part I of the Handbook of Nature Study (pages 23-24). This information will apply to every challenge in this ebook. If this is your first time reading this section, use a highlighter or pen to underline thoughts you can implement with your family.
    • Ebook Users Only: Before beginning this series of challenges, use the Winter Wonder? Notebook Page to create enthusiasm for this season’s nature study. Print a page for each member of the family and complete it together. Refer to this page as you work your way through the challenges and spend time outdoors this winter. Keep the page in the front of your nature journal as a reminder of the three questions you hope to answer and the three activities you hope to accomplish.

Outdoor Hour Time:

  • Take a Winter Weather Walk and observe as many things in your neighborhood as possible that are special about the winter season. These can be man-made or natural items. If you downloaded my January 2012 Newsletter you can also use the Study Grid ideas as part of this challenge (newsletter in the archives for Members). More Nature Study Winter Ebook Users: You can take along the notebook page and record your thoughts as you walk outdoors or wait until you return home to complete the page.
  • Advanced study: Challenge yourself to take a walk keeping completely silent. Go as a family or all alone. Ebook Users: You can take the Silent Winter Walk Challenge notebook page along with you and record your observations as you walk or wait until you go back inside to record your findings. Collect a small item to bring inside to sketch in your nature journal or onto your notebook page.
More Nature Study Winter Challenge 1
Three notebook pages are included in the ebook for this challenge.

Follow-Up Activity:

  • Record your Winter Weather Walk experiences in your nature journal. Ebook users can complete any or all of the notebook pages associated with this challenge as a follow up to your winter weather walk. You may wish to complete another walk later in the season just to compare your weather and surroundings. File your notebook pages in your nature journal.
  • Advanced study: Keep track of the weather in your nature journal. Design and sketch out your own weather chart. (Handbook of Nature Study, page 807, Lesson 222 has an example.) Suggested topics of study: Rain and snow amounts in inches, temperatures (highs and lows), wind speed and direction, cloud types, anything else weather related that you can think of to include. You can use the free weather chart I posted in this entry: Dry December Leads to a Dry January.

You can view our Winter Silent Nature Walk here on my blog.

 More Nature Study Winter Wonder

 Ultimate Ebook Library @handbookofnaturestudy

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Winter Weeds Along Our Walking Trail

Our world is slowly turning green and it feels nice to walk along and see the plants starting to awake for spring. We had our eyes open for winter weeds and we found some new things and some familiar things to share.

Weeds 6
The side of our walking trail is covered in this plant with the nicely shaped leaves. I am going to watch it as the season progresses to see exactly what it is.

California Poppy plant
The California poppies are starting to grow and I can hardly wait to see their happy orange little faces in a month or so. Isn’t it interesting how it can grow right there right on the rock? Not much soil here but there are plenty of poppies sprouting up for us to enjoy.

Mullein in Winter - Seeds
Here is what our mullein looks like right now….all brown and the tops are covered in lots of seeds.

The Handbook of Nature Study says, “Later the capsule divides partially in quarters, opening wide enough to shake out the tiny seeds with every wandering blast. The seed, when seen through a lens is very pretty; it looks like a section of a corncob, pitted and ribbed.” (page 538)

Weeds 3
This is the most interesting of the dried weeds that we observed. I like the way the bottom of the stalk looks like it is the skirt of the plant.

I can’t remember what this looks like in the spring or the summer….Does it have flowers? What do they look like? Now is the best part of the nature study experience. We get to watch this spot as the seasons progress and then see if we can identify it with our field guide. There is always something to learn and I am glad our Creator made us to be curious and he filled the world with interesting things to occupy our minds productively. (If you are a Bible reader: Ecclesiastes 3:10-14.)

Weeds 2
Here is what it looks like close-up.

Weeds 1
The top looks like this with its thin branching arms.

Queen Anne's Lace Winter Seeds
Our Queen Anne’s Lace looks pretty much like it did in the autumn.We had planned to pull up a specimen to observe the roots but we have snow today! We will have to wait now until we can get outside to finish our study.

Winter Weeds Nature Journal
I couldn’t decide on what I wanted for a journal entry this week so started a bulleted list of weeds we observed. I will add a few more as the month goes on and we see some more. I had room so I made a list of random other subjects we have come across this past week…sometimes it is just nice to have a little reminder to look back on in the years to come.

One last thing to share with you. Phyllis had this link in their winter weeds study:
Weed Collection Board - awesome idea!