We actually spent several weeks on cattails. We took a walk in our backyard, thinking we might find some near the creek. There were no cattails to be found, but we ran into one of our forest friends (see picture at the beginning of this post). Later, we took the world's shortest nature walk (if you can even call it a walk). I remembered seeing some cattails near a storm water retention pond outside a swimming complex where Anna had a swim meet late this summer. It certainly wasn't the most scenic spot and we got some odd looks as we jumped out of the car to take a quick peek, but we did find the remains of some cattails. Gracie called them "roasted cattails"! We picked one of the roasted cattails and inspected it at home. About a week later we noticed tons of cattails growing along the highway exit we take everyday to get home, so I snapped some pictures and prayed we wouldn't get hit by a car. Then we combined our cattail study with an art assignment from Artistic Pursuits in which they were supposed to use water color crayons to make their own picture from a photograph.
By the time we wrapped up our study of cattails, Barb was already posting Fall Challenge # 5 - Pumpkins.
Every year our family goes to the same pumpkin farm that is not far from our house. We've learned from past years that pumpkins are very dependent on favorable weather conditions. A couple of years ago, we had a late spring freeze which wrecked all the local pumpkin crops. So when we got out to the field full of beautiful pumpkins we were very surprised, until we realized that none were attached to their vines. They had all been shipped in! But not this year. The field was full of beautiful pumpkins, still attached to the vines. Makes for a much better nature study!
The following week, I let Ryne and Grace inspect a small pumpkin a little closer. First we looked at, felt, and even smelled the outside of the pumpkin. Then we cut it up. Both kids made drawings for their nature journals. Barb provided some discussion topics and my favorite comment was when Ryne said the seeds looked like raindrops.
Yes, I can count -- there's a reason I'm posting the challenges out of order. As we were taking our hay ride back from the pumpkin patch I noticed some large clumps of yellow flowers. Normally I'd have no idea what they are, but I remembered reading Barb's post about goldenrod. So we went to inspect more closely what the Handbook of Nature study calls "golden cities." The next day I noticed some goldenrod next to the church parking lot too, so we picked a stem to bring home. Gracie made a sketch for her nature journal.
There have been other nature walks too, but not specific to any of the challenges. And I never was able to get OHC #4 of the camera card that won't work in my printer.
Perhaps the best was when Marc took Ryne and Grace on a walk last weekend to the same state park we went to for our first challenge. Daddy doesn't get to participate much in our homeschool fun, so I was glad he had this opportunity. The fall color had peaked a few days before, but it was still glorious. Now, I've complained at least once on this blog about my husband's lack of talent with a camera, but I think he redeemed himself with these pictures.
So even though I haven't been posting much about our nature studies, we have been learning so much and having a lovely time. I am "sold" on how important this is in a child's development.
The mother must not miss this opportunity of being outdoors to train the children to have seeing eyes, hearing ears and seeds of truth deposited into their minds to grow and blossom on their own in the secret chambers of their imaginations. (Charlotte Mason, Vol. 1 p.44)