Friday, March 5, 2010

One small square

Winter is fading fast. Temperatures reached 60 degrees today! The only snow left is on shady north-facing slopes, and even there it is just in patches. I'm guessing it will all be gone by the end of the weekend. All in all, we had a beautiful day for nature study, but it was very muddy. I have a lot of laundry to catch up on now. And (ugh!) I forgot to have the kids wear boots, so now I have to wash their shoes too.

Our winter series challenge for this week was to measure off a small square of earth to study up close. The goal was to see how many different things we could find in our square. We chose a spot in our backyard.

An initial inspection revealed the following: snow, moss, grass, tiny plant of some sort (had little buds on it), ice, and leaves. The top layer of leaves were all frozen together. Then it was time to dig.

Digging proved to be more difficult than the kids thought it would be since the ground was frozen. The area around the moss was especially tough.

But eventually they made progress and found a few more items. Grace was surprised to find a leaf that wasn't crushed at all.

They found several black walnut shells.

They also found a long, but thin root and lots of little rocks. The kids were disappointed to not find any worms or bugs hibernating. So we decided we will do a little research next week on what happens to worms in the winter.

We also tried using a magnifying glass, but I don't think ours was powerful enough. I'll put a hand lens on the school supply list for next year.

We had to leave for an afternoon appointment, but decided to revisit our square when we returned. It was full of muddy puddles! Removing the layer of snow and frozen leaves caused the ground to thaw in the afternoon sun. A good indication of what we have to look forward to in the coming weeks -- even more laundry. Some of you might remember this picture from last year.

We also got a head start on next week's challenge: looking for signs of animals. My guess is raccoon, but we'll have to look at the resources Barb has recommended.

Happy homeschooling!


  1. What a cool idea! A specific square of earth seems managable as well as showing just how amazing even a tiny part of God's cast earth can be!
    Great photos too!

  2. That is such a neat lesson, but I hear you on the muddy clothes and shoes. I buy mine galloshes every year for bird watching and kick myself everytime I forget to have them wear them.
    Thanks for your sweet comment earlier. Today did go well but no results yet. I will put a prayer update on the blog later. Thanks for your prayers.

  3. You have been so faithful about the nature walks/studies. I envy your dedication {not the laundry, though}!

  4. Really great job on your square foot study....I love that they dug around a little to see what they could find. You have some sloppy, muddy ground right now and if you complete this study again in another season you will probably have lots of comparing to do.

    Thanks for sharing your study.

  5. I think its cute that you are the type of mom who would forget boots in an outdoor nature study in the snow and mud. :) Love it! Great photos and a great study! Found you on the Mc Linky. :)

  6. There are some amazing photos in a recent edition of National Geographic magazine that show a professional doing a similar thing, but using a cubic foot frame. Some of the animals he found are amazing!

  7. Just wanted to remind you to submit this to the OHC Blog Carnival!

    Thanks so much for your support.

  8. I think the most disappointing thing about the melting snow is that we won't be able to track animals so easily. I can't wait to get to the one small square study- it looks like tons of fun!

  9. This is fun! We did the small square a year or so ago, but we need to do it again. Thanks for sharing!

  10. Great photos! We didn't do the small square challenge, but now that it's warming up, we can't wait to try it. (It's still pretty muddy here, too, but oh, well...)