Friday, January 22, 2010

Outdoor Hour Challenge: Winter Series #2

I have shared before what I love (and don't love) about our school room -- at least from inside.  But one of the best features of our school room is the black walnut tree that sits right outside our window.   It is not a big tree, so its top branches are at the same level as our second-story classroom.   On windy days its branches will even tap the window right next to where our computer sits.  Not only does it give our classroom a treehouse feel, but it provides a great learning opportunity.  When we want to check the progress of spring buds, all we have to do is look out the window.  It's also a favorite stop for birds, so I try to keep the camera on the windowsill for special moments, like this:

Cedar Waxwing

Or like last Friday when our tree was covered with beautiful spiky frost:

Our tree was not quite so dramatic today, but we enjoyed taking a closer look at it during our nature study.  Ryne and Grace each completed a notebook page for the Outdoor Hour Challenge and made a bark rubbing.

We looked at the path of a vine that climbed to the top branches last summer, and even pulled down a small portion of the vine.  I cut a couple of small branches to inspect the buds, and we will keep them in water inside to see if the buds open.  After a quick internet search, we learned that the black walnut has a distinctive honeycomb shaped pith, so I sliced off the end of our branch to see for ourselves.

Another thing we learned is that the wood is very valuable, so I decided if the kids don't get college scholarships, we can just cut down all the black walnut trees in our yard.  Kidding!


  1. Excellent study! We have a window in our school area that overlooks two birdfeeders and they ofter distract us from our schoolwork. :)

    We have a walnut tree too and we are going to have to look for the honeycomb....something new to learn about.

    There are places here in CA that have extreme trouble with people "poaching" the walnut burls from orchards. They are very valuable.

    Great study and thanks for sharing!
    Barb-Harmony Art Mom

  2. Can't believe you got that shot of the bird - holycow! Gorgeous! And that's some crazy looking frost too!
    Glad you're kids could learn so much from something so near and dear!

  3. That is an amazing shot of the waxwing. Gorgeous! You do such great nature studies. Thanks for sharing.

  4. Barb - LOL, we actually use the walnuts for golfing practice! They are impossible to open, so we don't use them for anything useful. But they are close in size to a golf ball, so we practice hitting them into the woods. : )

    Andrea and Dawn - I was so excited about the waxwing shot too. They are not easy to photograph because they keep darting all over the place. The picture makes it look like the bird was just relaxing, but in reality I was just continuously snapping pictures hoping to eventually "catch" one. : )