Tuesday, July 19, 2011

June Nature Study: Birds

We've finally made it back on the focused-nature-study bandwagon! Last month, we decided to head back over to one of our favorite homeschooling resources, the Handbook of Nature Study blog to check out the June Outdoor Hour Challenge. We decided to focus on our own backyard and, while we can boast of many bird visitors, we have one bird in abundance: chickens!

We started off by observing our girls while they scratched around in the run. We took our colored pencils and sketchbooks with us and focused on their heads, tails and feet:

In this one above, Syler was really intent on capturing all the intricate details of the comb, the waddle, the ears, and especially the four toes.

Violet sounded out the work "chicken" all on her own. I believe the second word is "beak."

 The next day, we collected feathers from the run and labeled them. Sy was able to make out the quill, the fluff and the barb of a tail feather (above).

Violet found a wing feather and was able to distinguish between the quill and the fluff.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Everglades National Park

What an exciting spring break trip we've had. In addition to collecting shells and building sand castles at Fort Myers Beach, we took an amazing trip into the Everglades National Park. There, we took a ranger-led boat tour of the Ten-Thousand Islands, which was absolutely breathtaking. I, unfortunately, forgot my camera - big fail, since the kids were looking so adorable in their sunglasses and sunhats, writing furiously in their Junior Ranger Workbooks (so as to do enough prep work to be sworn in as Junior Rangers - more on that later!) We saw nesting terns, ospreys, gulls, pelicans, herons/egrets, ibis and, Syler's favorite by far, the infamous turkey vultures! We were even treated by three dolphins who decided to swim in front of, alongside and behind the boat - the kids were in absolute awe. Here's some great info on all the bird species that you can see in the Everglades.

After the tour, we drove about a mile away to the Big Cypress National Preserve where we were in for a real treat: big black alligators gliding (and hiding, rather well-camoflaged) in the swamp waters! We got out for a closer look but were warned by a ranger at one of our stops that we needed to carry the kids, since some of the alligators had been recently (illegally) fed: hence their tendency to glide toward us rather than away from us. Scary, but totally cool.