Spring and fall come with a plenitude of seeds on trees and other vegetation. They disperse in a variety of ways. My favorite are the winged seeds that you find on maple trees. They are called samaras. Look carefully at the samaras below. What do you observe?
Click here for the Safeshare link. This is fascinating!
I just added this book to my collection of nature books. On the last page there is a list of downladable resources.
When engineers are inspired by nature to solve problems, it is known as biomimicry. Click here for more information about biomimicry. My second-grade scientists studied maple seeds prior to engineering rotocopters. Click here and here for information about that science lab.
Some additional activities to do with your scientists:
Record the time it takes a samara to fall with and without the wing.
Use the slow-motion selection on your camera to record a samara falling.
Pull the samara apart and find the seed.
Use a magnifying glass or a camera to look closely at the wing.
Carefully observe and draw a samara. Paint your drawing with watercolors.
Do samaras look the same on the tree and on the ground?
Is there diversity among the samaras you collected (size, shape, or color)?
If you find a maple tree, walk in all directions to discover how far the samaras have traveled.
Can you sprout maple seeds?
Learn about and taste maple syrup. Click here for the Safeshare link.
Can you identify a maple leaf? Click here to watch a video to learn more.
Include this fiction picture book in your study of maple trees. Click here for the Safeshare link.
I found the edge of the woods covered with violets on my last hike. Some believe wild violets (common in the Eastern half of North America) are a desirable perennial, but others consider it a weed. They can take over a lawn because they self-seed and are difficult to control once established.
These native wildflowers bloom in the spring and have heart-shaped leaves. They prefer shady areas with moist soil but can spread into sunnier locations. According to my research, wild violets and their leaves are edible, but be sure to verify that information.
I found this violet growing in a fallen tree!
Violets and their leaves are easy to press and can be used to make sweet gifts. Press them between sheets of newspaper until the moisture in the flowers is gone. Then place them in a frame around a spring or Mother’s Day poem.
When I walk in my neighborhood, I pass a bush with twisted branches. Have you come across a plant that grows like this with your children or students? Why would a tree or bush grow in this manner? Brainstorm a list of possibilities. A phenomenon is simply an observable event which drives student inquiry.
Did you notice the catkins? Have you seen catkins on other plants?
“Men love to wonder, and that is the seed of science.” Ralph Waldo Emerson Click here and here to learn more about twisted plants.
I look forward to my walks through the forest because if you are observant and look in all directions, surprises await you! I had just begun my hike on the Greenway, when I spotted this little guy! It was if he was singing a greeting just for me!
Then around the corner, I noticed this large bird at the top of a tree with its wings spread. Is it a vulture?
White-tailed are social animals who walk in herds. Their tan coloring helps them camouflage in their woodland habitat. They are herbivores. Deer have a great sense of hearing and can move their ears to face different directions without moving their heads. Their strong sense of smell helps them to detect predators from a far distance. A deer’s eyes are on the sides of their heads giving them a large field of view and the ability to spot predators coming from any direction. They also have impressive night vision. When deer sense danger, they make a sniffing sound. If they feel threatened, they stomp with their hooves and snort. Deer are crepuscular which means they are more active at dusk and dawn. Male deer are called bucks, female does, and their young fawns. Fawns are speckled, like dappled sunlight, to provide camouflage. Only males grow antlers which they shed each winter. Deer can run up to 30 miles an hour and jump heights to eight feet. I watched them jump over my neighbor’s fence like talented hurdlers. They are also skilled swimmers.
Although I enjoy observing deer, I wish they wouldn’t eat my plants!
This is a buck’s skull. The flat teeth indicate that he eats plants. Notice the wide eye sockets.
“The deer are not crossing the road, the road is crossing the forest.”
Imogene’s Antlers is a fun fiction story to read while learning about deer.
Welcome spring! This time of year brings me hope because there is new birth everywhere. The warmer temperatures, additional light, songs of the birds and frogs, and the colorful tree blossoms and wildflowers engage all my senses. Watching the forest come back to life truly brings me joy! It’s as if I’ve been watching a black and white television show that is now in color. So grateful for seasons!