Saturday, September 15, 2012

Nature Walk Friday, September 14

Being four years apart, it's not always easy to combine subjects. The lessons we do together are Nature Study, Composer Study, Art, Picture Study, Geography, and Health & Safety. Ballerina has a double dose of Natural Science because she seems to enjoy it. We do Building Foundations of Scientific Understanding (BFSU K-2) together on Fridays, but during the rest of the week she tags along with Builder and his second level of BFSU, Elementary Science Education for 3-6th graders, chiming in with answers and participating in building and testing kites, and showing diagrams on the whiteboard.

Our first nature walk was beyond my expectations. The weather is still hot and humid in our area, and I anticipated complaints. Thankfully, we had none and nothing but a great time. I made sure the kids packed their binoculars, magnifying glasses, sketch books, pencils, collection kit, and set off. I snuck my own sketch book in Builder's backpack. Note to self: put a backpack on my Christmas/Birthday wish list.

We set off, and only a little more than a block from our house, we stopped. We saw a round hole, and immediately Ballerina excitedly thought it may be a snake's hole. I pointed out that usually snake holes were narrower, and although we couldn't see it, we were very near the ocean so it could be a crab's hole as well. We examined it closely with our magnifying glass and saw a pair of what we think may be mating beetles walking around together. The kids thought they were funny with "their butts stuck together". We sketched them in our sketchbooks, taking care to write the date and a few words on the weather and labeling the colors on the insects' legs and thorax. They were orange. Ballerina was empathetic with an identical lone insect that didn't have a mate.

Remembering our living book "Life in A Bucket of Soil", I found a twig on the ground and gently poked in the hole. We saw dozens of ants, and Ballerina found a large snail shell. We were all excited that the snail seemed inside and alive! We find lots of shells where we live, but no occupants.

We collected some foliage, a twig with two tiny snails, a few mystery berries, and the big snail. Builder made sure to put some dirt in there with it.

We walked some more, then turned towards home. We all had fun, and it took a whole thirty minutes. We vowed to leave earlier next time, when it was a bit cooler. As it is, it was 10:30 and about 82 degrees with pounding sun.

In the picture all three children are taking a rest from their excursion.

At home we found out the snail was a Florida Apple Snail, with a pretty olive green and brown striped shell. Builder read two of our books on the care of snails, Pets in A Jar and Life in A Bucket of Soil. I gave him the large empty container that used to belong to our hermit crab, and he set to work creating its habitat.

This is what Nature Study is all about, and learning is effortless when it all flows so easily. The kids already asked if we can go on another Nature Walk on Monday.

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