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22 January 2016

Nature in the Winter

So, I've had this book, Handbook of Nature Study, for years. Bought it probably five or more years ago... and never used it. It's jam-packed full of interesting stuff, but I just couldn't figure out how to get the information from the book to our Nature Study outings. So it's been gathering dust.

Until this week.

Three days ago, Kristyn of Beraca Valley Academy posted about how she was using this book. And when I read it, something finally clicked. She described her process: she reads a bit from the book, then she heads outside, later, with her kids. Oh. That's so simple! Why did that take so long for me to get it?

So, it's winter. I'm clueless about figuring out trees without their leaves, though I know that it can be done. There's no flowers. So as I was browsing through the table of contents, I decided that we'd work on climate and weather for a while. That section starts out with a pretty cool history of a Tower of the Winds in Athens, which made for some good conversation while we were out. The kids were (as usual) pretty excited to be at the park, and quick to zip off to their favorite hidey-holes in the brush, so we'll talk about it some more. Maybe see if we can find some pictures of the friezes to look at. And I'm thinking that the observation tower at the park might just become our own "Tower of the Winds".

All that is not too shabby for figuring out this book about 30 minutes before we were supposed to walk out the door yesterday - particularly since a good chunk of that time had to go to dressing for the cold. Cuz it's chilly around here. We had warmed up some - I think it was around 20-25F. Much nicer than the negative temps we had all last week.

So we played in the snow. Checked out some animal tracks. There were tons of bunny tracks around. Some deer tracks. And this, which I'm not sure what it's from.

The big kids were on the other side of a hill, so I didn't get any pictures of them, but the little kids had a great time in the quarry area. I think that Dragon(5) was a bit frustrated that the snow had covered over all the rocks that he loves so much, but he found things to do, digging around. Peanut(3) was right in there with him. My friend and I just tried to stay out of the way, so the kids can learn and enjoy.

It was snowing a little, so we stopped and checked out the flakes that caught on our gloves and coats. They were pretty amazing; it was a good day for that. They were actually big enough to (kind of) see.

When we went to find out what the big kids were up to, we saw tons of tracks. And had a lovely conversation about all the scat. The bunnies had been busy. Very busy. This picture really doesn't do it justice; the whole area was dotted. Next time we go, I want to look at the bushes they cluster around and see if we can see where the bunnies have been chewing on the branches.

Turns out the big kids were having a really good time. Who needs sleds, when you have snow pants and a slick coat?

About this time we decided that the littlest ones had had enough, and we started to wander back toward the car. I'm so glad we didn't take the short, easy way, because we found deer beds! There was three, though we only took a picture of two of them. We also had a nice conversation about how different deer scat is from rabbit scat, even though we didn't know for sure that it was deer that had made it until we got home and looked it up in a book. You can figure a lot out, just by looking and thinking a bit, which is pretty cool.

When we got home, we read our Snowflake Bentley book, as well as reading the sections of Tracks, Scat, and Signs. Today, using the photos I took, we made an entry in our nature journals. Nothing fancy - bushes and rocks and snowflakes aren't the easiest things to draw. But already, even though we do them somewhat irregularly, the nature journals are cool to look back through.


Anne Chovies said...

Sounds like a really good time! I didn't know there was an observation tower in your neck of the woods. It would be interesting to get up one and see what you could see!

Ritsumei said...

It's a great park. Maybe this summer you guys can come over and we can have a picnic over there and show you our "Tower of the Winds".


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