Saturday, July 31, 2010

Flower Study Private Eyes

After our nature walk the boys took their samples home and began work on their sheets.  Even though we brought moistened paper towels and plastic bags for our specimens they did not make it home in very good shape. (I need to come up with a good solution for that problem.)

Ds#1 chose the blue toadflax to Observe and draw. He made analogies for the Compare step:
  • a paw
  • an asteroid
  • a fly and a fly swatter
  • a violet
  • a jumping man
  • a bug
  • a tree
  • a bird
  • a butterfly
  • woodchips

For his Consider step he wrote, "I think the petals grew out--spread--so they could suck in the sun easier.

He also did some journal writing:  "The dam where I found my flower is a beautiful place.  You can do tins of stuff there like walks, hike, have picnics, go swimming, and much, much more."
Ds#2 really liked the patch of Maiden Pink on the grassy areas by the reservoir.  (Unfortunately it has since met the demise of the lawn mower.)

Here are his analogies:

  • a pink hand
  • pink explosion
  • elephant's trunk
  • carnivourous plant's mouth
  • multiple hands connected to one another
  • a swirl of colors
  • a nose
  • a spear point
  • a broom
  • pink lights

This is what he thought when considering why it looked as it did: "I think the flowers are spiked because when the flower was not in bloom, the pedals were connected.  So when it bloomed it tore the pedals evenly."

He decided to write a comparison for his journal entry: "The pedals on my flower are brighter and lighter than the ones on a violet.  The leaves on my flower are longer than the ones on a violet.  the stem on my flower is about the same width as a stem on a violet.

Ds#3's flower did not make it home in any condition for drawing, so he decided to draw the remains of a robin's egg he found in the yard a few days before.

His comparisons:
  • a lake
  • a blue rock
  • a blue heart
  • a blue pastel
Since this walk I have been buried in work I have to do over the summer for new classes I am teaching in the fall.  The boys have been swimming, and even spent a week at nature camp.  They still look at all kinds of things through their loupes, though we have not done anything formal in a bit.  We will again soon...

Sunday, July 18, 2010

More On Our Nature Walk

These pictures are from the same walk in which I took the bird pictures.  As you can see, the boys had a lot of fun as we wandered around, and we found quite a variety flowers and things to photograph and identify.

Ds#2 is perched on the rocks.
Ds#3 is throwing rocks into the reservoir.
Ds#1 is enjoying a Brian Jacques book.
They found the remains of some tall and sturdy plants...well, somewhat sturdy:

Ds#3 is feeling very big atop the rocks and waves joyously!

We read that the mullein plant had many uses in days gone by, including using the large, soft leaves to line your moccasins.  Ds#2 decided to give it a try.  He said it was quite comfortable!
Ox Eye Daisies   
A dandelion seed head.  It looks as if a second one merged with this one.
White water lily
Evening Primrose
Maiden Pink
Blue Toadflax
English Plantain
A deciduous tree with "cones"?  They are catkins on this Mountain Adler.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Birds at the Dam

During the summer we've been taking morning walks on a dam with some friends. We have been able to identify all kinds of birds there, the most common being the myriad swallows that soar along the the dam walls.  We also collected flowers from here, but I'll write about that in a separate post.

We've seen birds like these Canada geese.  We've been visiting since the goslings were very little.  In this picture they have their adult coloring.  Seven in all, following closely behind their parents.  They often sit in the shade on the shore.

And these mallards, who are relatively new to this small pond.  Maybe we'll see ducklings soon, too.

We've seen bluebirds, goldfinches, great blue herons, and the brilliant orange of Baltimore orioles.  One day I saw a flash of a dull orange, almost brown.  the medium-sized bird perched on the fence at the edge of the water.  It was a new bird to me, and it did not have distinctive marking on its back for me to look up later in my guide.

When we went for our nature walk, though, I brought my camera.  Fortunately the mystery bird stayed around the ranger station, perhaps nesting nearby, and I was able to capture an image.  Its a brown thrasher, and the orange-brown color is known as "rufous."  It has the distinctive yellow eye, barred wings, and curved beak--though a very thick one compared to the images online.

It's a member of the mockingbird family and has one of the largest song repertoire of any North American bird.

Hopefully I will get pictures of the other birds we've spotted and maybe of the kids will even draw one.  It would be great to find a feather for us to look at with the loupes.