Some of the files are still relevant while others I will be decluttering and recycling in the process. Each day during April, I will pick one of the files to focus on - either doing a hands-on activity or sharing some information from one of the files.
For the 14th day - Letter N - I am focusing on Nature, New Year's Eve, and Nutrition.
Ways to Discover Nature for Adults and Children
- Keep a nature calendar - record temperature, precipitation, and snowfall data; sunrise and sunset times; and phenology notes. For example, "The first eastern chipmunks are out and about." "First country roads turn muddy." "Red-osier dogwood shrubs have bright red twigs." Note the first frost, the first snowfall, and the first and last sighting of migrating birds.
- Go play outside - Go to a slow-moving, shallow river with a drip net and see what you can find. Take a walk in the woods.
Sophia and Olivia playing in the pond.
(Taken on March 30, 2011.)
- Go to the state parks - There are often park activities and events that are both educational and fun.
Olivia and Sophia took a class with a naturalist about
life in glacial potholes at Interstate State Park.
It was very interesting and a great hands-on learning experience.
(Taken on June 22, 2012.)
- Take a class - take a college course or one through community education to better understand the natural world (e.g., astronomy).
- Get crafty - Try rubbings of leaves or bark. These could be put into a nature journal. Photography is a good way to explore nature. One idea is to try making a collage of photographs of the same tree in your backyard, each taken at a different time of the year.
Types of Science Notebooks
- Garden Journal - record the progress in your garden and the experiences you have while planting and tending it.
Sophia planting strawberries in May 2016.
- Travel Journal - keep a memento leaf, dirt, or nature samples while on trips. Put the date and place of collection on the journal page.
- Change of Seasons Notebook - spend a week every season adding information about the changes you observe.
Wild columbine blooming in May 2016.
These plants are under our pine trees in our front yard.
- Field Guides - use sketches, inking, or photography, collect specimens, identify them, and make notes. For example, in a tree field guide you may draw or photograph a tree or leaf, record the height of the tree or record the length of the leaf; describe the tree and its fruit; make a bark or leaf rubbing; and note any wildlife that lives within in.
- Envelope Journals - poems written on the outside with relevant items inside (e.g., dirt, sand, grass/weeds, leaves, flowers (dried first), seed pods, twigs/bark, small rocks or shells, ticket stubs/postcards, drawings (your own or cut from some source), writings, or anything that is three-dimensional.
New Year's Eve
Rather than doing the usual "resolutions," go a step further and write down your goals in several categories that resonate with you:
- Family - maybe it is to spend more time with them doing low-cost activities together.
- Financial - note what is essential to your living and what you can work on (e.g., saving for retirement, lowering debt)
- Mental - is there anything you have wanted to learn to try?
- Personal - what goals do you want to work on for your personal self?
- Physical - learn a new sport or activity.
Cliff/rock climbing at Tettegouche State Park in Minnesota.
This is along Lake Superior.
Olivia and I both did climbing here
which was challenging and fun.
(Taken on July 11, 2014.)
- Social - depends on the amount of activities you already are doing. However, are there other social activities you might want to join? Sometimes we may need to decrease in this area.
- Spiritual - what can you work on to change yourself for the better?
Women stop making bone around age 25, so it's crucial to protect the ones you have now.
Eat three servings of calcium-rich foods daily (e.g., 8 ounce glass of milk or fortified orange juice, cup of yogurt, slice of cheese).
Cheese Press that we saw at Enfield Shaker Museum.
(Taken on September 8, 2011.)
Take 600 mg. of calcium every day.
Exercise 40 minutes three times a week (weight-bearing exercises such as jogging or tennis are best for bones).
Proper Portions is important with food. For example:
- 1/2 cup of vegetables/fruit: fruit or vegetable that fits in the palm of your hand (about the size of a tennis ball)
- 1 cup of cereal: about the size of a woman's fist; cereal that fills 1/2 a standard cereal bowl
- 1 ounce cheese: about the size of 2 dominoes
- 1 teaspoon butter or peanut butter: about the size of the top half of your thumb
- 1 ounce of nuts: fits in the palm of your hand
- 2 ounces meat: small chicken leg; 1/2 cup cottage cheese or tuna
- 3 ounces meat: about the size of a deck of playing cards; 1 small hamburger, 1 unbreaded fish fillet, 1/2 chicken breast, 1 medium chop
Personal Choices Make a Difference
- As you eat locally grown, seasonal foods, much less fuel is used to package and transport food from far away. Pollution related to processing and shipping is reduced significantly.
- As you get to know some of the people who produce your food, you help to complete an important circle of communication between yourself and the earth.
- As you eat fewer processed and highly-refined packaged foods, less fuel is used, less water and air polluted.
This pig at a local CSA was playing in the mud with other pigs.
It took a little break to rest and enjoy the sun.
(Taken on June 2, 2012.)
- As you replace some or all of the animal protein in your diet with complex carbohydrates and vegetable protein, you help to reduce the loss of topsoil and pollution of water associated with energy-intensive methods of livestock production, some land stripped of trees for this purpose may be returned to its natural, life-enhancing forested state.
Pathway at Lake Itasca State Park.
(Taken on September 4, 2012.)
- As you choose organically-grown foods (and animals which have been nourished by them), you help support the natural fertility of our soil, the quality of our water and air, as well as the health and livelihoods of those who invest the extra effort required to grow and harvest them.