We have had a cold, wet winter in our area. It sometimes makes doing nature study outdoors difficult because we have little ones in our group. We had to cancel a couple of nature days in December due to the cold and rain and I knew it was time to come up with an alternative plan for bad weather days.
This past week, nature study fell on a cold day so we decided to go to our local wildlife museum for some nature journaling.
Our local wildlife museum consists of hunting trophies from a local hunter so it is a interesting place to hang out.
We walked through the whole museum, which takes about a half hour, listening to the audio provided. While they walked the boys tried to decide on something to add to their nature journals.
Jack decided to draw the leopards spots. They sat and did a quick sketch.
Since this week it was just the three older boys, they asked if we could walk to the river nearby. The cold obviously wasn't an issue for them.
They walked down to the river, skipped some stones and ran through some of the tunnels that were nearby. We saw ducks and a few birds.
I also took plenty of pictures for some future nature journaling at home.
We had a wonderful time with our homeschool group today visiting the dinosaur tracks and hunting for fossils. The weather ended up being perfect for a day in the desert.
We found this little guy right on the trail to the dinosaur tracks.
One of the tracks.
One of the best fossils we found. We found a lot of partial negative fossils.
It was a great day with great friends. The kids easily spent an hour sliding down a sand hill. Then all the boys young and old set up rock targets and then tried to throw rocks and knock them over. We look forward to doing it again soon!
We've been trying to get out on a good hike as a family at least once a week. This time we went to a trail that we haven't been on in years. It was nice to be back there and visit some of our favorite places again.
We were able to collect quite a few items for the latest nature pal exchange. We also saw many Native American pottery pieces and chips from flintknapping.
Just a sample of what we found.
Last week, we held a special little ceremony to award Jack his Wolf patch for the Wild Explorers Club. We started by having him read through the assignments and then telling us what he did to complete each one.
We then awarded him his badge. It was short and simple, but I really think it was a great way to honor his hard work on earning it.
This week we went to a new to me park at the suggestion of one of our group members. It is billed as a nature park and I was anxious to visit.
It is right at the end of a street and at first glance I didn't expect much. From the parking lot all you could see was a small pavilion and small grassy area.
There was a little path to the side of the grassy area that led up a hill to a huge pond. We saw ducks, coots, and red ear sliders along with various songbirds.
After running around the pond for a bit, the boys settled down on the grass to do some cloud watching.
Eventually the boys found some flowers to sketch in their nature journals. They sketched, dissected, compared the shapes of the petals and then we arranged the petals to form pictures.
Then, having gathered some energy they went off to have sword fights with sticks while the mothers talked about different read alouds.
If you haven't already heard of Wild Explorers Club, you are missing out. This new program has been the answer to some of our prayers. We don't have a scout program that we feel comfortable being a part of in our town, yet we always wanted a similar program for our kids to participate in. Luckily this came along at just the right time for Jack.
He eagerly awaits the assignment each week and it has given us yet another excuse to spend more time out in nature doing what we love.
It's great to see him thoughtfully go above and beyond for each assignment.
Miss Cairo got her own Wild Explorer badge for her backpack since she accompanies us on all of our adventures.
He has recently completed the first badge, wolf. I will post how we celebrated next week.
This week we went to one of our favorite places to collect and forage.
Our first stop is always the apple trees. They weren't quite ready this time.
Jack was thrilled to find so many ferns. He has been learning a lot with Apologia Botany and has been having fun finding and identifying so many different types of plants.
Taking a break in the campground gazebo. Always a lovely spot to stop and watch for wildlife.
Taking a snack break on our favorite rock. It's fun to look back through the years and see how many pictures I have taken of the kids on this rock.
A short hike down to a little creek. We found lots of moss and the boys collected different samples to bring back for a project they are working on.
We were able to collect some prickly pear fruit for Jack, along with some pine cones and acorns.
After every hike this happens. The pup falls asleep in his arms. Too cute.
Thanks for being patient with me while I get back in the groove.
Sorry it has taken me so long to get this post finished and up on the blog. Our stay at Humboldt Redwoods state park deserves it's own post because there was so much to see and experience there.
I have decided that there isn't enough moss or lichen in my life.
The park has a really wonderful visitor's center. I highly recommend making time to visit there if you are in the area and have kiddos.
A camp trailer made out of a redwood.
There are quite a few hiking trails in the park that are easy hikes.
There is an easy hike down to the Eel river. We enjoyed exploring it for a few hours.
Up the road from the campground was the drive thru tree. The tree you drive through was okay, but it was fun walking through the rest of the grounds. These tree houses were amazing!
I finished this book on our trip. You really must read it.
The redwoods were my favorite part of the trip. I may have said that I don't have near enough moss or lichen in my life at home. It was just perfect. I can't wait to go back and spend more time there. At one point Zac started talking about moving to the Pacific Northwest and asked what I thought. I told him if he ever wanted to move there he didn't need to ask, I was all in. :)
One of the main things I wanted to add to our learning experience this year was nature study. Here are some of the things we have found and studied over the past month.
It's been nice to slow down and take notice of nature around us everyday. We are still trying to be consistent about nature journaling, but we will get there.
- The Nature Connection
- Natural Science Through the Seasons
- The Tree Book
- Botany in a Day
- School of the Woods
- Botany Coloring Book
- Fearless Latin: A Gardener's Introduction to Botanical Nomenclature
Along with this we are doing nature notebooks and a group nature study that I have planned based off of these books. I will post the plans for that soon.
For the past month, these two birds have had a little project going.
Or should I say five little projects. The pea hen made a next on top of our compost pile.
Today was 30 days to the day that she laid the eggs. Tonight when we checked on them, this is what we saw:
There was one more dark chick that we saw for just a moment before she turned and hid them all away.
I did take out some of the wild game bird food that I bought for when our quail eggs hatch and threw some to them, the chicks went right after it.
We are so excited about our five new friends!
Part of the lettuce patch. We plant lots of lettuce and basically use it as edible ground cover. We have bermuda grass and if we plant anything else it helps cut down on the bermuda grass in the garden. Once the bermuda grass takes over it's pretty much a lost cause. The great thing is I no longer have to buy lettuce we eat fresh. We can pick as much or as little as we want and we have all different varieties.
The peas are doing well so far. We planted early enough that they were able to get established before the heat started. They are scattered all through the garden and around the chicken coop, patio, and sunflowers- basically anywhere they would have something to climb, we planted them. The peas are on right now. While we are weeding we tend to grab a few to eat. The kids also snack on them when they are out playing.
We have our first artichokes! This is our first time growing and getting artichokes. We are excited about this plant!
Our mammoth red clover is doing great. We have big patches of it in the vegetable garden.
Our carpet roses have bloomed. The hollyhocks are taking over and the milkweed is coming in strong. I have a love hate relationship with hollyhocks. They are so pretty, until fall and then they are a pain. They are our neighborhood weeds. Pretty yes, but prolific. They would take over the yard if we let them.
The milkweed is blooming and the bees are loving it. I love going out in the evening and smelling the sweet scent of milkweed.
And we have lots of seedlings coming up. Our main job right now seems to be thinning the sunflowers out to give everything else a chance. I pull about 100 or so a day. I figure if I do that now while it is cool, when it gets warm we will be left with the right amount.
While at the park this past Friday, someone in our group found a shovelnose snake.
It's very small, but fiesty.
We brought it home to show Zac and keep for a few days for observation. We did consult my brother who is as much of a snake expert as we have around these parts. He helped us set up a small tank and get the right kind of food for him. As soon as he hit the sand, he started to burrow in it.
It is a very beautiful snake.
He really enjoys this log decoration and is eating his crickets.
I had never seen one before this. He has been fascinating to watch and observe. The way he digs and buries himself. And I can't believe how long they can stay under the sand. Really fascinating!
We've had a peacock in the neighborhood for a few years now. Nobody owns him, he just showed up one day.
Our neighbors bought a pea hen to try and keep him in their yard because some of the neighbors were complaining. It worked for a while, but now he is back roaming and bringing his girl with him. He loves our yard, our garden and showing of for our chickens.
Apparently his girl liked it because she has made a nest in our compost pile.
She is currently sitting on five eggs. We are all excited about this. Hopefully we will have five little ones running around soon.
Yesterday, we had the opportunity to head out on an adventure with some of our friends. We visited two of my favorite places. The first was the fossilized oyster bed in The Grand Staircase National Monument.
The last time we were hear Jack was just a toddler. He has always been my rock guy so I knew he would love to visit here.
There are so many fossils out here, it really is amazing.
The geology of the area was amazing. Talisa is taking a geology class right now in college and it was great to have her along. She was able to explain some of the things we noticed.
We found this layer of coal. Which brought up all sorts of questions that we are looking in to. It crumbled really easily, but the colors are a match to some of the rock that my husband uses for flintknapping.
After we had explored for a while, we headed over to the Paria Canyon. The colors in the canyon walls are amazing.
We found the cemetary.
Our last stop was the Paria River. It is so beautiful here.
It was a beautiful day, spent with wonderful friends. Can't wait to do it again!
We've been taking advantage of the wonderful weather, hubby's time off, and a reasonable schedule this week to spend lots of time outdoors. Today we went for a hike on top of the radio tower hill in the middle of town.
Our house is somewhere in the middle of that picture. See the snow? A month later and we still have snow? That is unheard of around here. Also can you see how high we are? Yeah I had a hard time looking over that edge.
Looks like an altar of collected rubbish from the hill.
It was fun getting out with my boys again.
We went for another walk down to the river today after all of our school work was finished.
He found a stump that was perfect for a boy his size.
It was only and hour, but it was needed. It has been another one of those weeks. The older kids have the next two days off school. We are planning to relax, enjoy some fall activities and get some much needed rest. And we are going back to the park!
This week has been crazy. We got one car back from the mechanic, took the other car in for a couple of days and picked it up today. Then tonight we had to replace the battery in my van. If it's not one thing it's another. Next week we have to take my van back in to finish up, they had to order parts. I am glad we have all the vehicles home for the weekend though.
We are still doing well on staying in the groove with homeschooling. We've been adding things in this week and finally made it back to the library. I've been missing our weekly library trips.
Hope you are all having a good week!