Thursday, August 21, 2008

Nature Study Class

A friend and I exchange taught our daughters again this summer. She taught them sewing (and they made some darling things!) and I taught a nature study class. I had never formally taught a class on it before, but we've been learning a lot informally over the past year, so I thought it would be fun to expand on it. We tried lots of fun things like pressing flowers, pounding flowers and leaves, mounting insects and making a mollusk collection from shells we gathered at the Cape. We also live in a beautiful part of the country and tried to spend quite a bit of time enjoying the nature around where we live. I wish I had taken my camera more, but here are a few photos showing what we did:

Bookmarks made from the pressed flowers:

We had a class on butterflies when the butterfly bush was in the heighth of its bloom. We saw three types of butterflies that day. A silver spotted skipper enjoying raspberry blooms:

An Eastern Swallowtail:

Later that day we went to a park near the lake and discovered an injured Tiger Swallowtail. There was quite a bit of damage, but the girl's wanted to try to bring it home and nurture it the best they could. Bringing it home was a bit of a trick, but it seemed to like holding onto one of our dd's friend's shirt. The girl's called her "the butterfly ambulance." When we got home we gave it water (in sand) and a blossom for nectar. Unfortunately, it passed away the next day. It was a great opportunity to carefully examine a living butterfly up close. Their tongues are amazing to watch how they roll them up. (It's actually a tube called a proboscis.)

On one of our jaunts into the local nature, we visited the botanical gardens and traipsed through a wooded area that had a myriad of mushrooms and fungi, and tree stumps and logs with holes in them. We called them fairy houses and pretended the mushrooms were their furniture. So, later we thought it would be fun to try building a fairy house of our own in the woods in our neighborhood:

Building the swimming pool:

Elsie and Cyrus enjoyed tagging along. This is Cyrus asking for a hand through a rough patch of ground:

And my own little woodland fairy:

It is fun how nature is so appealing, no matter how old you are. Cyrus is so funny. He gets so excited whenever he sees insects and makes this loud, joyful belly laugh. We always know when he has found something exciting.

To help me plan for the class I used The Handbook of Nature Study by Anna Botsford Comstock online. I really want a copy of my own! There is also a blog that posts nature challenges that go along with this book and her family's experiences in following them.