May 5

Tulip Poplars

Deciduous trees are interesting to study throughout the year. Click here for a previous post about maple trees and click here to learn about sycamores. To investigate chestnut trees, click here. In this post, we are going to study tulip (or yellow) poplars. Actually, tulip poplars aren’t poplars at all, but members of the magnolia tree family. I have observed this grand tree both on my neighborhood walks and in the forest. Click here for a fact sheet about the tulip poplar.

Take a closer look at the yellow poplar’s leaf. The flower looks like a tulip, but the leaf is also tulip shaped.

The trunk looks like a telephone pole.

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May 3

The Forest is Turning White!

For the last several weeks the forest floor was carpeted with yellow wildflowers, but it is slowly transitioning to white. Even those yellow wildflowers are dying and leaving behind puffs of white seeds. Watching the forest change is enchanting. Even the mood of the woodland changes with the time of day and type of weather. I like walking at dusk and dawn when sunlight peeks through the leaves and the wildlife is more active.



Consider how the wildflowers grow. They do not labor or spin.
Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. (Luke 12:27)

As I wrote this post, I thought of the yellow dandelions, the purple violets, and the other colored flowers that I have posted about recently. How fun it would be to go on a “Rainbow Flower Walk” with your children (or students) in your neighborhood, a park, the woodlands, or even in a plant nursery. Search for flowers of every color.

Click here for the Safeshare link. Plant a rainbow garden too!

See the source image

May 2

A Focus on Goats

Autrey Mill Nature Preserve, only a few miles from home, has resident goats. I visited the preserve during their Earth Day celebration, and watched children feeding them magnolia leaves, which I consequently discovered is their favorite treat! Watch the goat below push the other goat away from the leaves.


In this post, let’s focus on a goat’s eyes. What do you observe and wonder?

How would it benefit a goat to have horizontal pupils? Scroll under the photo below to find the answer.

Goats are herbivores and need to be able to spot predators approaching along the ground. Horizontal pupils improve peripheral vision, so they can see on either side of them without turning their heads. Click here for the Safeshare link.

The two videos below present additional information about goats. Click here for the Safeshare link.

Click here for the Shafeshare link.

After studying goats, read The Three Billy Goats Gruff, a traditional folk tale about three brothers who need to avoid a troll as they cross a bridge to reach the pasture. A folktale is a fictional story that was originally passed down orally. Many folktales have animals as characters, magical elements, and teach a lesson. A common theme is good vs. evil.

It is fun to compare different illustrators’ interpretations of the story. The author will always be unknown. This is also an easy story to dramatize with sound effects. I used a rectangular school table as my bridge. The goats could safely walk across the table with the troll underneath. You may also have a bridge on your playground.
Click here for the Safeshare link.

My youngest scientists brainstormed alternative ways the goats could have safely reached the other side of the river. When one of them suggested a boat, my response would always be, “Let’s make boats for the goats!” Click here for the repost of this STEM lesson.

A lesson about absorbency would be a good place to begin. Click here for a simple lesson that will build background knowledge.

To learn more about animal eyes, click here for the Safeshare link.

April 28

Beware!

I am learning to identify poison ivy. These rhymes are helping me spot it!

Leaves of three, let it be!

Longer middle stem, stay away from them!

Hairy vine, no friend of mine!

Red in the spring is a dangerous thing!

Side leaves like mittens, they will itch like the dickens!

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April 26

Lines and Scribbles

I just added this book to my library because I immediately saw a connection with nature. Some things are made from scribbles, while others are lines. You will need to think abstractly and use your imagination for this activity! Click here for the Safeshare link.

See the source image

When I went walking, I searched for scribbles and lines in the natural world. Such a great activity for observation and communication!

I saw lines:



But here, I saw scribbles:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Take a walk with your children and identify objects that are lines and scribbles. If you enjoy this theme, check out these picture books:

Click here for the Safeshare link.

See the source image

Click here for the Safeshare link. This book could also be used during a discussion of camouflage.

See the source image

Scribbling is an important developmental skill for writing, just as crawling and babbling are stages in walking and speaking. When they scribble, children develop the small muscles in their hands, eye-hand coordination, communication skills, creativity, and imagination. Scribbles have meaning and it is the manner in which young children express their thoughts and feelings.

April 25

Foxes

Susan, a friend of mine, recently relocated to Montana with her husband. I’ve enjoyed her wildlife photos and her recent pictures of a fox inspired me to post about this canine.

Why is the fox jumping in this photo? Watch the video to discover what is happening.

I was in my backyard when I heard the scream of a fox. It will startle you! Listen to the call in the video below.

Click here for the Safeshare link.

Hattie and the Fox is an easy story for young children to dramatize and the predictable, repetitive text will encourage them to participate in the reading experience. Click here for the Safeshare link.

Image result for hattie and the fox

April 21

Great Blue Heron

The Big Creek Greenway, my favorite place to walk, is a wetland ecosystem. After a heavy rain, the area often floods, and paths are frequently closed for a few days.

After recent storms, I spied this great blue heron wading through the residual water.

“In order to see birds, it is necessary to become a part of the silence.”¬† Robert Lynd

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April 19

Dandelion Study

Use dandelions to teach your young scientists about plants! They are safe, plentiful, and move quickly through their life cycle.


The flower’s role is to produce seeds. Because dandelions bloom in the spring, they are one of the first food sources for pollinators.

Can you name the parts of the plant? Dandelions have a tap root, like a carrot. Label the plant parts. Diagrams are found in informational text.

Dandelion seeds disperse by the wind. I am mesmerized by the beauty of these seeds.

A dandelion rapidly changes from a flower to a puffball of seeds. Sequence the life cycle. Click here to watch an animated life cycle. Plant the seeds and journal the growth of the dandelions.

Dandelions are edible. They were brought to America by European settlers and were cultivated for their medicinal qualities and as a food source. After studying dandelions, try a dandelion tea like the one below, or taste dandelion greens. These were at Whole Foods.

These photos were taken after a spring rain.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Take photos of the shadow created by the ball of seeds and draw what you see.

Click here for the Safeshare link.

Click here to listen to the story.

Dandelions: Stars in the Grass - Lerner Publishing Group

Dandelion is a classic children’s book. Click here for the Safeshare link.

See the source image

April 18

Inchworms – Math and Science

I discovered this inchworm climbing up my window frame. An inchworm isn’t a worm at all, but the larval stage or caterpillar of a geometer moth. All moths go through metamorphosis-egg, caterpillar (larva), pupa (cocoon), adult (moth). Inchworms are about an inch long and are commonly brown or green.

Do you see the six legs near its head? All insects have six legs. The inchworm’s name is derived from the way it arches to propel itself forward. Ask your children to move like an inchworm. Start in a plank, walk your feet toward your hands, and then walk your hands forward. Repeat.


Inch by Inch is an excellent book to teach beginning measurement skills. Cut green paper into inch strips (inchworms) and use them to measure items at home or in your classroom. Click here to watch the story.

Amazon.com: Inch by Inch: 9780375857645: Lionni, Leo: Books

Inchworm, performed by Danny Kaye in the movie Hans Christian Anderson, is a classic children’s song. Click here to watch him sing the song with the Muppets.

April 14

Egg Experiments for Easter

This photo was taken by Tasha Dickson, parent of one of my favorite young scientists. These eggs came from her chickens. What a beautiful natural Easter basket!

May be an image of indoor

I am reposting some of my favorite egg experiments. These are fun to do in a classroom or with your family at home.

Click here for an investigation with eggs and vinegar.

Click here to use eggs for an investigation about brushing your teeth.

Click here for a collection of egg experiments.

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