Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Nature Study Challenge #2 - Using Your Words

Our challenge this week was to get outside and use words to describe what we see, feel and hear. I read the recommended pages from Anna Comstock's Handbook of Nature Study and found a couple of interesting things to note.

"This danger (of seeing too much or not seeing anything at all while on a nature walk) can be obviated if the teacher plans the work definitely before starting, and demands certain results."

I find quite often that I don't know where to start or what to look for or at while wandering through nature. I tend to point out an interesting tree, knowing absolutely nothing more than the fact that it looks pretty up against the blue sky with the clouds behind it. While it is beautiful for me to gaze upon, it doesn't really teach Chloe anything beyond appreciation of beauty. Then I point out a bird flying through the air, and "Oh! Look at the chipmunk over there!" I see beautiful flowers that beg to be photographed and an interesting bug flies across my vision. But there is no real learning happening. That is why the above quote struck me. I should have a semblance of a plan before venturing out for a nature study.

"Make the lesson an investigation and make the pupils feel that they are investigators."

We packed up our backpack with nature journals and water and headed up the hill behind our neighborhood. On the way, we stopped by a bird nest we knew was in a tree there to see if anyone claimed it. We didn't see any birds coming or going from the nest so we decided it must be a vacant nest. This is our third time watching the nest and we have never seen any birds fly to or from it.


We came to our resting spot and sat down on the ground. I had instructed Chloe before we left the house that she needed to remain quiet so she could hear the sounds of nature (through the background city noise we are surrounded with) and see things and feel things. I explained that it's hard to hear, see or really feel things if we are busy yakking about the storybook we read last night or the trip we are planning to take to the beach. I was amazed at how quiet Chloe was. When we needed to speak (to point out the location of a mockingbird or some other interesting find) we whispered quietly to each other.

Part of this challenge was to write one word that describes what we heard, two words to describe something we felt and three words to describe something we saw. Here are Chloe's words.

I heard a bird tweet.


hard, smooth rock


green, poky, movable grass


And my words.



smooth, dry


tiny, white, lace


I see now that I got the second and third parts switched around. But that's okay. We enjoyed trying to come up with words to describe these various things. We struggled a bit with choosing what to describe. I found too many things, so I listed a few for each in my nature journal. Chloe, on the other hand, had a hard time "seeing" anything to describe. "I see mosquitoes on you, but I don't want to describe it," she announced. We'd been brushing the pests off for a few minutes which lent aid to her inability to see much else to describe. She finally settled on describing the grass we were sitting on.

I am looking forward to our next nature study. I feel as though we are starting on an adventurous journey together and that we will learn so much about the world around us. How can that not excite a person? I have just learned that those lacy white weeds are none other than the infamous Queen Anne's Lace. I have heard of the weed flower my entire life but never knew what it was when I saw it. Now I do.

Until next time, look around you. Watch and listen. Investigate. The world is an amazing place.


1 comment:

Barb-Harmony Art Mom said...

I think you did a wonderful job on this challenge. It does take practice and I think you and your daughter are going to catch on very fast as you work through the challenges. I look forward to seeing your next entry!