Friday, August 28, 2009

Outdoor Hour Challenge # 2

For this challenge my assignment was to read a few more pages from the Handbook of Nature Study, and I was really struck by this quote:

Make the lesson an investigation and make the pupils feel that they are investigators. To tell the story to begin with inevitably spoils this attitude and quenches interest.

Even though we had an amazing time last week on our first challenge, when I told the kids we were going on another nature walk today, they responded with grumbling. I was stunned, but rather than give up I decided to rephrase things a bit:

Yes, we have to go down to the creek and see if the rain freed the catfish. If he's still there we'll have to come up with a plan this weekend to save him.

Let me back-track a little to explain. Last weekend Anna was down in the woods with her friend, trying to find some leaves for a school science project, and they found a huge catfish stuck in a shallow pool of our creek. Most of the time the creek barely has water in it, but when we get a good rain you could almost do some white-water rafting on it. So the catfish must have been swept down during the previous week's storms, but then got stuck in one of the little pools when the water subsided. We did not have a net big enough to get him out, and he really didn't want to have anything to do with people. So we waited to see if the next round of storms would carry him to the lake downstream.

When the Ryne and Grace started to complain about the nature walk, I remembered I needed to make it an investigation, not something to check off our planner. The kids needed some sense of purpose in the activity, and the catfish was the perfect motivation. They got excited, and we had a wonderful time.

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The theme for the challenge was "using your words." After the walk we were to creatively sum up our experience:

  1. Give one word describing something we heard.
  2. Two words for something we saw.
  3. Three words for something we felt.
Here's what we came up with:

  1. chirping (Ryne) and splash (Grace)
  2. bubbles rising (Grace) and green moss (Ryne)
  3. thorn pricking me (Grace) and cold, cold water (Ryne), and sticky spider webs (me)
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And what about the catfish? To the kids great disappointment, and my great relief, the catfish was nowhere to be found. He is probably getting acquainted with his new friends in the lake.


  1. I loved that you remembered the encouragement to make your nature study an investigation. I think this shift in attitude helps change the focus of each nature study lesson.

    Your world is so green and I really enjoyed seeing your photos.

    I think you had a great time just from your telling back of the event.

    I look forward to your next challenge.
    Barb-Harmony Art Mom

  2. Well done, Kellie!

    I hope I can pull our nature walks off half as good as you are doing. :D