Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Stop To Smell The Gardenias

The Gardenia bush next to the house is in full bloom.  The scent is intoxicating as we walk out onto the porch.  So when Barb created a new outdoor challenge newsletter and we were challenged to learn about a flower from our garden I knew which one I would choose.

The boys were smelling the flowers and they thought they smelled like honeysuckles.
Boo was smelling some of the pollen.  The boys rubbed some of the pollen on their faces.  They thought the Indians must have used pollen to make yellow face paint.
The boys chose one of the newer blooms to draw in their nature notebooks.
We used the idea in the newsletter to paint a beautiful water color frame for our Gardenia drawing.  Since the Gardenia was white we painted the inside of the circles so that our white pencil would show up nicely.
We drew  the Gardenia and labeled some parts of the flower...
corolla
anther 
pollen
petal
 We discussed why the pollen is important to the flower.  The boys were also reminded that the chief reason for a flower is to make seed.
The finished products were beautiful...

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Exploring the Pond

As we read Paddle to the Sea, we are using Geography: A Literature Approach available from Beautiful Feet.  One of the extension activities was to compare a swamp and a pond.  We took a walk to the pond in the pasture one warm afternoon.

Materials...
backpack
camera
net
jar
Life in Ponds by Jean Gorvett
It was a lot of fun walking to the pond with the littles.  This was one of the spots that I would go and spend some quiet time alone reading my Bible before I was a mom.  Now I can share this place with my children.


The first thing little hands wanted to do was touch the water.
We noticed a lot of dragonflies and plants around the edge of the pond,

The boys found a lot of tiny water creatures using their net.  They would scoop down into the mud at the edge of the pond and bring up lots of interesting things.

The one above bit Bo!  He quickly threw it down.  We think it might have been a back swimmer.
The three tadpoles were the most exciting find of the day.
The girls were interested in the little yellow flowers growing in the pasture.

What we found:
tadpoles
back swimmer
larvae
whirligig beetle
unidentified green swimming bug
water striders

We took the jar we brought and placed some water and some of our finds inside.  We then poured the water in the aquarium to observe the pond life.  The next day we completed a nature journal entry by drawing the creatures and attempting to name them.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Surprise Nature Study

One thing I love about nature study is that it can happen so unexpectedly.  We can be going about our normal routines and suddenly find something very interesting to sketch and study.  A few nights ago I was feeding the dogs outside and I spotted a large, beautiful moth on the front porch.  I quickly called to the boys, because they love to catch all kind of creatures to observe.



The boys brought their net to daddy and we soon had a beautiful moth waiting to study the next morning.

We were excited to learn that this was the type of moth that comes from the caterpillar we had tried to overwinter.  We posted here about this fun caterpillar.  It is called a Polyphemus moth.  The boys sketched the moth and then let it go in the woods.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Strawberry Pickin' Time

Friday the littles and I took a trip to a friend's strawberry patch.  My grandmother came along to hold our newest addition.  We were able to pick 10 gallons of strawberries before the rain.  Here are a few pictures...
Miss LouLou was keeping a watch on the storm clouds that were brewing.  She felt like it was her responsibility to instruct mommy to pick faster...fill my basket up to the top mommy...hurry mommy...it's about to rain...make my basket heavy with berries mommy...here is one for my basket mommy...all of this encouragement for me...yet she only picked about two berries the entire time:-)
and of course Little Bitty ate all of the strawberries she picked
Bo was a great helper...He picked about three gallons for me.
Boo was a great helper too...He picked about three gallons also.
Now we have 12 pints of jam and 6 quarts of berries in the freezer...
We ate one gallon and gave four gallons away...
Next up...blackberries

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Happy Birthday Little Bitty

Today our Little Bitty turned two.  What joy and smiles you have brought into our lives....

Little Bitty at two...

You Love
peanut butter sandwiches and milk
cheese
when we hold you like a baby
your paci and bear
exploring everything
Blue's Clues
books illustrated by Eloise Wilkins
helping me wash dishes
snuggling

Friday, May 6, 2011

Outdoor Nature Hour...Following Our Pecan Tree

A couple of weeks ago the littles and I decided to study our Pecan trees through the seasons this year.  Last year we studied our dogwood tree and observed its changes through spring, summer, fall and winter.  We thought the pecan trees would offer lots of nature journaling opportunities since they produce nuts in the fall and the squirrels work in them gathering nuts for the winter.

We began our study by breaking off a small branch and observing the small green leaves beginning to grow.  The flowers were still on the branches and the pollen was all over our van parked underneath.  The small limb had several caterpillars busily chomping away at the leaves.  So we pulled several larger limbs down to look for caterpillars.  There were lots of caterpillars on the lower limbs.  This was surprising because we had not even noticed this looking up at the limbs.

Here is the branch we broke off of one of the lower limbs.
There were lots of holes in the leaves.  The caterpillars were munching away.

The boys drew the branch with the caterpillars eating the leaves in their nature notebooks.

Little did I know that when I made these pictures a couple of weeks ago that the tree would soon look like this...
We not only lost our pecan and dogwood trees, but the hickory tree in the pasture that the boys studied in the fall was also lost...
Because of the storm damage we were able to look underground at the root ball of our pecan tree.
Daddy noticed one of the larger roots dripping water.  So we placed a half gallon jug under the drip.  By that night we had a half gallon of water in the jug.  The boys and daddy tried the water and said it tasted like a pecan.
We learned that mature pecan trees can use between 150-300 gallons of water per day in the hottest part of summer.
It was very interesting to see how large the root system of a tree can be...