Channel Islands National Park

How can you live in a state your whole entire life and not know about a fascinating, secluded, national park right at your doorstep? Off the coast of California is the least visited national park in the United States, Channel Islands National Park.

We were trying to think of something new and interesting to do during our few days we had down the coast and this came up and we decided to take a chance and go out to the islands. We caught this boat in Ventura, California early in the morning.

As we started out of the harbor, we saw this whole flock of pelicans sitting on the rocks of the jetty. If you have never seen a pelican close up….they are huge and wonderful to watch as they fly.

We chose to go to the largest of the Channel Islands to do some day hiking. Santa Cruz Island is about an hour’s trip by boat from the coast.


As we cruised out to the island, we were happy to learn that a park naturalist was on board and would be giving a talk once we got to the island. The naturalist came around and introduced himself to our family and I told him that we were taking the trip to the island as a way to build interest in marine biology since we were going to be studying it this school year. He was so thrilled to have interested listeners and he gave us his special whale lecture as we rode along on the boat. He knew his whales and we were interested to know that we could actually see whales during their migration from the island at certain times of the year. (I see another “field trip” later in the year.)

Once on the island I realized that it was a wildflower paradise. Check out the size of these morning glories, unique to the islands.

How about this beauty of a flower….I haven’t identified it yet.


And this is the remnants of a wild cucumber. See the seed inside?


We hiked about five miles from one part of the island to another. We started at Scorpion Ranch and then went to Scorpion Point and then went over to Potato Harbor.


Look at the color of that water and I wish you could have audio from this place. We could hear sea lions barking from the rocks at the entrance to the harbor.

There were many sea birds but the one bird that I never got tired of seeing was the raven. Their flight is so graceful and lovely to watch. Here is one raven that actually stayed in my camera’s line of vision long enough to get captured.

Back at the cove on the dock where we waited for the boat to pick us up at the end of the afternoon, we were interested in watching the kelp as it swayed in the water. It was truly like an underwater ballet.

You can also see if you look closely in this photo, purple sea urchins under the water….lots of them.

Then at just as the boat was due to pick us up, this sea lion came to give us a show.

This was a fantastic place for nature study and you can camp on the island…a little primitive but Santa Cruz Island has potable water. I highly recommend a visit to the Channel Islands National Park if you are ever in California.

We are going to go back and spend a few days sometime in the next year. I would love to go whale watching and sea kayaking.

Outdoor Hour Challenge #20 Summer Tree Study

“Besides appreciating the world, observing nature develops other mental powers-ability to focus, to tell things apart, to patiently seek answers. These things are useful in every facet of life.”
Charlotte Mason in Modern English, volume 1 page 61

With each new season we learn more about the natural world and the wonderful cycles we find in it. The seasons are a way to measure time and to learn to understand the subtle changes we find in the plants and animals that live close to home. (Gen. 1:14) We started a year-long tree study nine challenges ago and it should be a good time to make our next seasonal observation.

“And what about those six trees that the children were watching since winter? Now children will see that they also flower, although those flowers may be as green as the leaves. …This is old news to grown-ups, but a good teacher will present all knowledge as new and exciting by imagining himself in the place of the child and being amazed with him.”
Charlotte Mason in Modern English, volume 1 page 53

Your tree should have leaves for this season’s observation and if you were not able to identify your tree before, this should help you do so at this time. If you are just starting your year-long tree study, consult the Handbook of Nature Study’s table of contents for trees and see if you can find a tree that you have close by your home. Turn to the corresponding section and it will give you lots of ideas for learning about your tree. You are not limited to the trees covered in the Handbook of Nature Study but if you choose a tree not listed, you will need to find your information either at your local library or on the internet.

Outdoor Challenge #20 
Seasonal Tree Observation-Summer

1. We started a tree study project way back in Outdoor Hour Challenge #11 and made our first observations of our tree. If you would like to review this section in the Handbook of Nature Study, you will find it on pages 622-626. This week the challenge includes making the next seasonal observation of your tree. If your first observation was in spring, you are now into summer and your tree should look a little different. If you are just joining the challenges, pick a tree from your yard, your street, or a near-by park to observe over the course of the next year. Check in the Handbook of Nature Study to see if your tree is listed there and then do the reading about that particular tree. There should be some suggestions for observations that you can follow. You can use the prepared seasonal tree study page to record your observations.

2. Take your 10-15 minute outdoor time to study the tree you are going to observe over the next year. You can take photos of your tree to put in your nature journal or you can sketch the tree in your journal. If you need help with tree sketching you can use this resource.
Clare Walkers Leslie’s Guide to Sketching Trees

3. If you have additional time this week, you could complete another small square activity from Challenge #9.

4. After your outdoor time, complete your Seasonal Tree Study notebook page sheet or record your tree observations in your nature journal. Take a few minutes to talk about your time outdoors to see if there is anything that your child wants to learn more about. Follow up any interest shown.

Mini-Challenge #20 Year-Long Tree Study
This challenge can be done with or without the Seasonal Tree Study notebook page. If you have limited time or are trying to combine challenges, pick your tree and make a few short observations. Spend the balance of your time reading about your tree so that during the next season you can review what you have already learned and compare your observations from season to season.

https://handbookofnaturestudy.com/2009/02/announcing-outdoor-hour-challenge-ebook.html
Ultimate Ebook Library @handbookofnaturestudy

Outdoor Hour Challenge #19 Seeds and Germination

“Leigh Hunt said to imagine what if we had never seen flowers, and they were sent to us as a reward for our goodness. Imagine how carefully we’d watch the growth of the stem and every unfolding of each leaf in wonder. And then imagine our astonishment when a bud appeared, and began to unfold in all its delicate, colorful beauty. Well, we have been seeing flowers for years-but our children haven’t.”
Charlotte Mason volume 1, page 53

Before we finish up our eight week study of garden flowers, I wanted to do a little experiment that every child should do at least once their lifetime. Germinating seeds and watching the progress is something that will fascinate some children, not all but some. I encourage you to give it a try along with finishing up your garden flower journal entries with your lists of flowers observed, drawings of some garden flowers, and emptying out your flower press and putting them into your journal.

Outdoor Hour Challenge #19 
Seed Germination

1. This week take a few minutes to go over the mechanics of seed germination. On pages 458-459 of the Handbook of Nature Study you will find a short explanation of how a seed really just holds a little plant struggling to get out.

Try this activity in addition to your Outdoor Hour time this week:
The Germinator

http://pbskids.org/zoom/activities/sci/germinator.html

2. Take your 10-15 minute outdoor time in your garden, yard, or a near-by park. Look to see if you can find any seeds. Remember that cones and acorns are seeds and that beans are actually seed pods. You can also look in any fruits that you eat this week for seeds like an apple, orange, grapes, or strawberries. Nuts are actually seeds too so if you eat almonds or walnuts or anything similar you can talk about seeds.

3. Add any new garden flowers to your list in your nature journal.

4. You can encourage your child to sketch some seeds in their nature journals. Or they can draw the progress of their seed germination experiment for their journals if they wish. Record your flower seeds’ growth (from challenge 12) and/or record your sunflower’s growth (challenge #16) for the week.
https://handbookofnaturestudy.com/2009/07/new-outdoor-hour-challenge-ebook-garden_27.html

This challenge is part of my Garden Flowers ebook. This ebook has ten garden related challenges that will walk you through a study of garden flowers using the Handbook of Nature Study. In addition to the challenges already written, there will be more photos, nature journal examples, book lists, and totally new notebook pages designed to go with each of the Garden Flower Challenges.

Ultimate Ebook Library @handbookofnaturestudy