Right, the nature study. I just have to say ‘WOW!’ This was the greatest thing to add. I was so worried about this, but it’s been so fantastic. My son, who hates bugs, is terrified of anything creepy and crawly and slimy, was saying ‘I like bugs…worms are great’ during our nature walk. He was *excited* when he saw a worm slithering, and shouted ‘Look at this!’ when he saw a bug. I couldn’t believe it.
I got the idea to study leaves here (because the leaves changing colour, falling all over the place, clogging up gutters, the cold weather, and shorter days weren’t enough clues for me; I had to see someone else doing it first) I copied most of what Lynn did and added a few things.
Day 1: Introduced topic. We read Cirlce of Life: Seasons. Stiggy did this activity.
Day 2: We read Signs of Autumn. Stiggy did this maze, and then we went for our nature walk. During our walk, we saw lots of interesting things. He was so excited, running about, looking at things with his magnifying glass, pulling out the binoculars…he didn’t want to go home! After that we did some leaf rubbings.
Day 3: We counted our leaves, grouped them by colour, and graphed them using Crayola Erasable Coloured Pencils. (These pencils actually do erase.) Stiggy then decided he wanted to graph his cars, too, so he did that mostly on his own. We also did a leaves minibook. I read How the Leaves Came Down, a poem by Susan Coolidge. We did another nature walk, but Stiggy mostly just splashed in puddles.
Day 4: We read Why Do the Leaves Change Color? and did the chromatography activity. If you do this activity, the 30 minutes they recommend for steeping the leaves may not be enough; it wasn’t for us. I took the jar out of the hot water, completed the activity, but didn’t get much colour on the filter. After leaving the jar sit overnight, there was much more colour in the alcohol. I read How the Leaves Came Down a few more times. We also sang the leaves song.
Day 5: Today I told Stiggy to choose a nature book. He didn’t want to read Why do Leaves Change Color? He said it was boring. I do think the book is a bit beyond his level. I also think he’s getting tired of studying leaves…I may have gone a bit overboard.
We started to do an autumn leaf ‘glitter’ craft. The instructions recommended microwaving the leaves to make them more crisp. After about 15 seconds of this, our leaves started popping, smoking, and a glorious stench filled the kitchen. A better solution: leave them in a bowl on a radiator for a while, or another safe source of warmth. We didn’t end up doing this craft.
He did, however, want me to read the poem again…and again. 🙂
We were supposed to end the unit by making leaf-shaped cookies, complete with orange, green, and yellow icing, but for some strange reason the batter didn’t turn out right, it was too soft, and we weren’t able to use the cutter, so we just made circles.
My copy of I Love Dirt arrived. This book is fantastic, and the Amazon reviewers who said this is not a book of activites are wrong. Yes, the ideas are fairly simple. The book is designed for those very new to nature study, so if you already spend a lot of time outside, don’t bother buying this book. But if you’re like me, and just have no idea what to do with your kids outdoors, this is fantastic. There are 52 opened-ended activities, designed to get you outside and noticing your surroundings. They do not involve lots of ‘study’ or written exercises.
And the suggestions work. As I was reading it, a suggestion was mentioned to fly a kite. Now, we have a kite, it was sitting in my son’s cupboard, still in plastic, unused for 2 years. It was sunny and and windy. So, I immediately dropped what I was doing and we went outside and flew the kite. We had a wonderful time. I just wouldn’t have thought of it, because I’m so busy doing what I always do, day in, day out. I need prompts. But now that we’ve done it once, I’m more likely to remember the next time we have a day like that. This book is going to help me break out of our old routine and create some wonderful experiences (and memories).
Some of the other ideas are things like creating a butterfly garden, stargazing, building an obstacle course in the snow, and looking for evidence of animal homes. It’s not really a nature study book, more of a get-outside-and-be-aware-of-nature book. There’s no prep work involved. It just helps you get outside and focus on something. I love it.