One of my goals for this school year is to incorporate more nature study, and today was the first step. I've heard several times of the Outdoor Hour Challenge, but only recently discovered that the creator is Barb/Harmony Art Mom -- the same person who hosts Sketch Tuesday. I've been enjoying her other blog for several months and never realized the connection, silly me!
As I understand it, she posts a new Outdoor Hour Challenge every Friday, but it is recommended that newbies start with the first 10 Challenges. Hopefully someone will correct me if I'm wrong on that! Barb assigns some reading from Anna Botsford Comstock's Handbook of Nature Study to go along with the challenge. You can read more about how it all works here.
So for the first challenge the parent is to read the first 8 pages of the handbook, and then take the kids outside for at least 15 minutes and just observe and enjoy. Once back home we discuss what we saw and come up with at least two things to investigate further.
In the future we will use the woods in our backyard for most of the challenges, but today I wanted to take the kids to a nearby state park because they have a nice paved path (it's rained a lot this week, so everything is pretty muddy). It has been a while since I've been to this park and I accidentally took us on the wrong tail. So what I figured would be a nice 30 minute hike ended up being almost two hours! But it was so much fun that I didn't hear any complaining until just before we were done.
Ryne is really into Indiana Jones right now, so he dressed in his hat and brought along his home-made whip!
Twice we came upon downed trees, but Grace just urged, "Keep going!"
At one point we took a dirt path off the main trail because I knew it would lead us to some spectacular scenery, although just being in the woods was beautiful.
I didn't tell them what was ahead. But as we got closer I said things like, "Wow, we're getting pretty high, almost like we're on a big cliff," or "Oh, look how light it's getting up ahead. It looks like the trees are ending," and then, finally, "What's that?!" They couldn't believe it was the Missouri River. We see it all the time, but never from this high up. Oh, I can't wait until we study Lewis and Clark this year!
We saw all kinds of interesting things that we'd like to learn learn about.
But this was probably the most interesting. When we picked a few of the cherries, Gracie noticed some funny looking things on the back of the leaf. By the time we got home the leaf and whatever the funny-looking things are had shriveled up quite a bit, but hopefully we will still be able to identify them. I have no idea how to do that though, LOL!
The best part of the whole morning though was when Grace said, "This place makes me think of the song All Things Bright and Beautiful," and then sang the song for me. To me, that is the primary purpose for studying creation -- to be increasingly in awe of the Creator.