Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Outdoor Hour Challenge #2 - Using Your Words

A leaf and pine needles in ice on the driveway.

This week, we're doing the Outdoor Hour Challenge #2 - Using Your Words that's on the Handbook of Nature Study website.  The instructions for the challenge are in bold typeface.

1. Read page 15 in the Handbook of Nature Study (The Field Excursion). Read page 23-24 in the Handbook of Nature Study (How to Use this Book).  Make note of any points you want to remember.

There were several key ideas that were interesting and worth noting.  The points I want to remember are in italics.

Take up the questions with the pupils as a joint investigation, and be boon companion in discovering the story.

Found the letter "A" in pine needles on ice

On the way back home after our walk, I pointed out a tree to Olivia simply saying, "Look at that tree."  She silently look at it for a few minutes.  I thought she would notice the rather large holes that woodpeckers had made in it.  Instead, she said, "It looks like an 'R'." 

I stepped back a bit.  Sure enough.  The limbs did look like an "R."

Lead [your] pupils to discover [facts] for themselves.  Make the lesson an investigation and make the pupils feel that they are investigators.

Heading back home after our nature walk. 
The slower pace gave us an opportunity
to look at the wind moving the pine trees.

One of the advantages to walking (versus bike riding) is that it forces you to move at a slower pace which lends itself well to nature observation.  One of the things that Olivia noticed was that the wind was so strong that the pine trees were moving quite a bit. 

The wind also was so strong (and cold) that she said that her legs "itched" since the wind made them so cold.  Later, when we were reflecting on the walk we talked about the wind and how it was a rather "biting" this morning.

The chief aim of this volume [the HNS] is to encourage investigation rather than to give information.

The sun trying to peek out through the clouds.
This is overlooking a cornfield we passed on our walk.

2. "It is a mistake to think that a half day is necessary for a field lesson, since a very efficient field trip may be made during the ten or fifteen minutes at recess, if it is well planned." Challenge yourself to take another 10-15 minute "excursion" outdoors in your own yard again this week.

Sophia, Olivia, and I (plus Montague and Gretel...the dogs) went on a nature walk/bike ride that was probably about a half an hour.  Since we are not limited by a traditional school schedule, we can spend more time outside.  This is something we enjoy doing, and could have spent longer had the wind not been as bitterly cold as it was.  Nonetheless, the walk was invigorating and inspiring...such a wonderful way to start the day!

Before setting out on your walk, sit with your children and explain to them that when you remain quiet during your nature time, you are more likely to hear interesting things. Brainstorm some sounds they might hear and build some excitement about remaining quiet during their nature walk this week.

We didn't brainstorm about what we would hear.  I'm glad we didn't do that, in this case, because I think the girls might have been disappointed if they were thinking or wishing about the things they wanted to hear and then didn't hear them. 

First stop to listen to instructions about the nature walk
and what we'll be doing.

Take your walk and if they get rowdy, use the universal finger over your lips sign to get them to quiet down. Set a good example and be quiet yourself, modeling how to listen carefully.

They were listening and observing throughout the entire walk/bike ride.

The rows of harvested corn are again showing
after snow buried them since mid-November.

3. After your walk, challenge your children to come up with words to describe the following things:

One word to describe something they heard.
Sophia - wind
Olivia - wind
Ann (me) - wind

Two words for something they saw.
Sophia - two hawks
Olivia - corn husk
Ann - two hawks

Three words for something they felt.
Sophia - freezing cold wind
Olivia - cold biting wind
Ann - bone chilling wind

Clearly, the wind was the major focus of this walk.  With the exception of the two hawks, no other wildlife was observed. 

The point of this assignment is to get them to start thinking about what they see as they go along. Each time they take a nature walk they will develop more and more vocabulary and this will eventually trickle down to their nature journals.

If they have difficulty coming up with things to say, help them out with some of your own words to get them started and they will soon catch on. Once we start identifying objects they see on their nature walks, you will be surprised at how easily they remember the specific names of plants, trees, and birds.

The letter "V" made by pine needles that had fallen
from one of the trees in the front yard.

4. Optional nature journal entry: Use their words as the basis for a simple nature journal entry. If the child is too young to write in the journal himself, you can write for them. "Everything he learns should be added to his nature notebook by him or, if he's too little to write, his mother." Charlotte Mason, volume 1, page 58.

Olivia tells me what she wants to remember.  I print it on notebook paper and have her copy it in her own printing into her nature journal. 
Olivia's nature journal entry.

At this point, you can pull out some colored pencils or crayons and invite them to illustrate their nature journal page if they want to. I feel like the nature walk and the discussion is the meat of our nature study and that it is the most important part of what we do. "No child should be compelled to have a notebook." HNS page 14 (Next week we will read about drawing in our nature journals in the HNS, page 17.)

We each have a set of Prismacolor color pencils.  I encouraged the girls to use different colors so their pages would be a bit more colorful, and add a creative and/or tactile element to the page.
Sophia's nature journal entry

5. If in your discussion of your nature walk your child expresses a particular interest in something they saw or heard or felt, make a note of it for further research later in the week. Remember to check your HNS index for more information about your nature interests.

Neither of the girls mentioned anything in particular that they wanted to wanted to explore in greater depth. The main focus was the wind - it was something we experienced through hearing, feeling, and sight (the effect wind had on the trees). 

My journal entries - one from last week (the left side) and
one from this week (the right side).

We will be doing another nature study later this week about salt.  The girls are excited that they'll be growing their own crystals for one of the experiments.


Fairy Tale Mama said...

Looks like you all were brave souls to get out there in that wind! I really enjoyed reading your post :-)

Barb said...

Two Hawks,
Bone chilling wind.

Sounds like poetry to me. :)

Wonderful entry showing your winter nature walk and your wintery world.

Your journals are very inspiring. I am hoping you will join our Flickr Nature Journal group and share you images!
8 yrs and under:

9 yrs and up (including adults):

If you need any help with that, please let me know.

You could do something simple with the interest in the wind like keep track when outdoors of wind direction which is interesting to do with kids. You could make a pinwheel to take outside the next time:

Have fun and I look forward to your next entry!

Anonymous said...

I'm your newest hop follower
Have a wonderful week

Donna @ The House on the Corner said...

You managed to capture "cold" really well - I can almost feel my nose go numb!!

Thanks so much for stopping by The House on the Corner ~ I'm following back!!

Gidget Girl Reading said...

I love your journal! great blog new follower!

Gina said...

I am so intrigued by your Outdoor hour posts! So many great ideas especially since I am just beginning to learn how incorporate nature studies into our day! Thanks so much!