Monday, April 25, 2011

Nature Study- Spring Bird Song

Outdoor Hour button

Last week we took a bit of a vacation and drove to Boston.  We braved both the Boston Children's Museum and Sturbridge Village during the school vacation week.  We had a great time and the boys learned all kinds of new things ranging from touring a turn of the century Japanese house to hammering pegs in to make a shoe sole circa 1840.  I was very glad to get back to our routine this morning.  We jumped right into the spring bird study.

The plan was to drive down to the Hudson River to the bird sanctuary.  As soon as we were headed down the road the April showers kicked in.  We turned around and decided to make our observations from our backyard.
Our focus this week is on identifying birds by their call or song.  We climbed up the "fort"  in our yard to get still and listen to the woods.  While we were sitting quietly the children used their spy glasses to see if they could spot any birds.

We could find nothing in the rain with our eyes, but our ears were given a workout.  Most of what we heard we could not identify.

We headed inside to the computer to learn some more of the calls of what we have observed in the past on our yard.  We went to The Cornell Lab of Ornithology website to listen to the songs and calls.  We started with the Black -Capped Chickadee, because we actually knew that one.  Here is the rest of the list of the birds we researched. I will put a star next to the birds that we recognized the call or song.  See how many you know. (You have to scroll down to the audio)

1. Bluejay*

We were very surprised at how many we knew the sound, but not the name.  I would like to set up a listening activity that matches the call to the bird.... that is one to work on.  

The boys each picked a bird to complete their notebook page.  "I" picked the Eastern Bluebird and "T" picked the Pileated Woodpecker, both of which we have observed in our yard the past few weeks.

Here is a picture I took with my phone of the Pileated Woodpecker we saw in our yard.

Overall a fun study.  I will be sure to share the bird call game when I get it completed.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Nature Study- Spring Weather

Spring is finally here!  We are so excited to be out in the warmer temperatures.  The grass is just starting to green up and the last of the snow is melting.  This week we are focusing on spring weather.  Before we ventured out to investigate we built upon our prior knowledge of weather.

First we read the book ...
What's the Weather Today? (Rookie Read-About Science)

We also discussed the water cycle through a slideshow called  "Drippy".   We completed a series of simple experiments to understand evaporation, condensation, precipitation, and collection.  

We just used our tea kettle to boil some water and look for steam.  That was our example of evaporation.  Then we used a cold cookie sheet that we placed in front of steam to create condensation.  We collected the drips of water to discuss precipitation and condensation.  

We also used some cotton balls to demonstrate how clouds collect condensation and then precipitate.  The cotton balls were our "clouds."  We used a cookie sheet with water as our ocean.  The boys hovered the "clouds" over the ocean to allow the "condensation" to collect.  The boys enjoyed comparing the dry cotton ball to the heavy wet one.  Squeezing the water from the cotton ball to make rain was quite popular.  

We ventured outside just as it was beginning to rain.  The boys looked at the drops on the driveway and in our empty fountain.  They caught some in their hands.  
We felt the wind at our backs and recognized what direction it was coming from.  The thermometer showed us that it was 60 degrees.  

When it was time to record our findings the sun and a bit of blue sky showed its beautiful face.  

We ended up enjoying some time outside and skipped our notebook pages for today.  

Monday, April 4, 2011

Nature Study- Shapes in Nature

Spring still has not arrived for us in upstate New York.  As much as I would love to be following "The Outdoor Hour" spring series, we will have to wait for a few more weeks to catch up.  In the mean time we are getting out and exploring more of our yard as it is slowly being unearthed from snow and revealed by rain.  Our focus this week is on shapes in nature.

We used a worksheet to get our mind thinking about what we might see.  Securing the chart on a clipboard, we slipped our rubber boots on enjoyed a short break in the rain for our exploration.  Here are some photos of what we found.
hydrangea flower - example of veining and oval
Circular animal hole

Horse Nettle Berries - sphere shape (and poisonous)

Fungus - half circle shape

Hyacinth - scales 

bulbs sprouting - triangular shaped leaves

Heart shaped leaf

We collected each of the items we found and brought them into the house to create our journal entries.  We also realized that there were things in our refrigerator that were also examples of shapes in nature, such as eggs, strawberries, and spinach leaves.  Our science table is currently set up with a magnet exploration, but below it we have bins of our collected finds from our nature walks. We grabbed two of our bins and looked for more shapes in nature.

The boys each cut and pasted the worksheet labels on a piece of scrapbooking paper.  Then they selected one item from the table that represented each of the shapes to draw.  They connect a line from the label to the represented shape.

 We will be following up on this study by reading
A Star in My Orange: Looking for Nature's Shapes

We will also work on some printing with various fruits and veggies later in the week.