Friday, December 9, 2011

Outdoor Hour Challenge 1: Preparation For Winter - Plants

I do my Outdoor Hour Challenge walks the same day that Harmony Arts Mom posts them. I have decided that the only way to feel prepared (and not lose my sanity in this) is to stagger my plans a week behind what is posted on the Harmony Arts Website. That way I can know and prepare for what we do, and not hurry, scurry to read what is posted and try to get it done the same day.

I am also, finally, implementing use of my Notebooking Pages membership in conjunction with our Nature Study.

So, today for our Outdoor Hour Challenge, we went out to see what we would see. First thing on our walk, I was able to draw my son's attention to a shrub that has blossoms so big they already look ready to burst into spring! (This photo might be blurred -- the camera didn't seem able to figure out what I wanted it to focus on...)
Then we worked our way down to our little creek, so peaceful and serene.  I really enjoyed noting how alive the evergreens make nature feel, even in areas where the deciduous trees have lost all their leaves.
In the interest of the challenge topic, I immediately noticed that some of the shrub plants are still in full seed, waiting for their bounty to be disbursed by wind and other elements.
My husband and my son are into geocaching, and they have a little geocache along our creek. This past week, with all the rain we got here on the east coast, our little cache leaked and got all wet. My son showed me where they have it hidden, and I am curious that the creek probably flooded to where it is hidden for it to get so inundated. Curious, I wondered how high the water had gotten, and wondered even which way the water flows in our little creek. It didn't take me long to figure out the latter, and to a certain extent the former... by examining the brush and grasses along the creekbank.

(The grasses and brush all lean to the left.)

I was looking for mistletoe but didn't spot any. I spied some squirrel nests, but my camera gave me an error message and said change the battery. I don't have a spare battery, so I thought I was sunk, and I missed photographing six beautiful cardinals (three "couples"), but then decided to try my camera again -- and it decided to continue working for the rest of our walk, go figure!

 My son enjoyed the waterfall on our little creek, and was poking around looking for something to capture and observe, but for now to no avail.

Before beginning our walk we had been reading The Story Book of Science, the chapter about "The Spider Web", and I had envisioned going out and finding a spider web to observe. What was I thinking?! It's way too cold to find a spider web out there right now. But, that's okay! We were out there, and found what was there.

We continued following the creek, crossed a road and continued with the creek on the other side. Finally my son found some minnows!
While he was down and dirty with his net, I was looking around from the sidewalk along the street where my feet could stay dry. I spotted some cool trees -- one that had foliage so think I was amazed:

And another tree had this cool white bark with big peeling pieces:

I also found, by the twiney branches, that I was standing under some bald wild grape vines.
As we left from letting the minnows go, I was amazed to find a maple seed pod on the sidewalk (as in this area I thought all the maple trees shed their pods in the spring, but aparently some of them DO shed them in the fall!)
So we had to hunt and find where the seed pods were coming from, and were able to find the tree.
At first my son was convinced it wasn't a maple, but we finally found a leaf on the ground (that wasn't from the oak over our heads), and he was able to see that the leaves really were maple leaves.

Then on our way I noticed one last item of interest--  ...many of the trees have lost their leaves in a very unusual pattern -- the wind has blown the leaves off the tops of the trees, but lower on the trees (where there might be protection from houses or other trees), many of the trees still have some of their leaves still clinging.

So when we got home I had my son fill out a Notebooking page. I was very pleased with his effort -- no complaining, just sat right down and wrote out what we had done! He really needs work on his capitalization and sentence structures, but we work on that at other times. I don't want to mark up his notebooking pages -- they are more a place where we will watch and enjoy as we can observe his improvements!
So thanks for reading about our Outdoor Hour! Have you had your nature walk today?


  1. What an awesome walk! I really loved seeing how you allowed for finding things of interest but also were also on the lookout for plants and trees getting ready for winter. Excellent job on the follow-up journal. It looks like he had plenty to write about which is the key. Thanks for writing up your winter walk.

  2. I love the picture of him with the net!

  3. Thank you for sharing this wonderful nature walk. I love the fact that your son was able to catch minnows at this time of year. :)