Thursday, September 23, 2010

Autumn is Almost Here - Signs of Autumn Challenge

Well, we are well into our groove of school and so this week we are adding in some of the last few things to our schedule. One of them being Nature Study.
The girls really took a liking to studying nature in the late spring, especially the birds (due to a feeder being right outside our front window.) So we went out and bought everyone a sketch pad, some special pencils and colored pencils so we could all do this activity weekly as a family. I use the challenges from Barb over at The Handbook of Nature Study. She's done an awesome job of creating weekly 'lessons' (challenges) to do while you are outside observing nature.

On Monday, due to the first day of Autumn officially beginning yesterday, she put a post about an "extra" challenge. So Tuesday, the girls, Seanan, and I all went outside to see if we could find any "Signs of Autumn."

We decided it would be best to go around our side and back yard first before we took our walk around the neighborhood. We saw such new and interesting things. First we found that one of our fig trees has fruit that is ripening (not there yet, but almost.)

Then we came across the Magnolia tree pods were blooming. I never knew they bloomed. (Check out this post about the Magnolia tree from earlier in our study.) There were some pods that are still ripening and others that had these very bright red seeds popping out from the pod. We even brought one in so we could check it out in more detail. (I also brought in a leaf so that later they could draw it in their Sketch book if they chose, and because the back of the leaf is fuzzy like a peach.)

Then we searched for a spider web. We found one and from some of these pictures it may be hard to see the web itself.

However, we did find the owner of the web. This spider looks like a crab, but he sure is pretty.

Have you ever seen one like this? We'll be looking it up tomorrow to see if we can figure out more about this particular type of spider.

After all these discoveries we decided to start for our walk. Thankfully, the "ugly weed infested area" has been recently mowed and we can see things. While walking we came across an insect of some sort playing in a bunch of yellow flowers (which may be weeds, but they're still pretty.) Arianna thinks it was a bumble bee, but Audrie wouldn't stay still, so the flying insect didn't stay long enough for me to catch a close up.

We also heard lots of birds chirping, singing, and calling. I think this one on the dead stick of a tree (which might be impossible for you to see) is a woodpecker.

Then there was this patch of grasses that had a very fall look to it. We also say some changing leaf colors on a few of the trees.

At the back of our neighborhood square there is a pond. Up until a few weeks ago it was completely hidden with overgrown weeds. But now we can see it easily. So the girls were able to view these cattails, even some that were beginning to bloom. If I had better shoes on and the right tools, I may have cut down a 'regular' looking cattail as well as a 'blooming' one for them to check out, but I'll do that next time or maybe dad can help us with that.

Most of the birds and butterflies we saw would not stay long enough to get caught on camera. One of the reasons is that my little one, is rarely quiet on walks. And Audrie has a hard time being quiet too. That's okay, though. They loved walking around and observing nature and they are learning, that sometimes being quiet can be quite rewarding.

Then yesterday we went out with our scavenger pages and our 4 Signs of Fall Worksheets and tried to fill them in. Audrie had quite a time because apparantly an insect of some sort (we think a red fire ant was the culprit) bit her and her foot has ballooned up. So that makes walking for her very difficult (and she's a bit too heavy to carry everywhere.) I would have strolled her and carried Seanan, but I must have locked my house keys in the pocket of the stroller in the garage, so no walk around the neighborhood. Arianna just went around the yard finding the objects and then would report them to Audrie and show them to her so that they both could check their finds. We were not able to find tracks or some other things, but the girls loved the hunt.

So what have you seen to help you remember the coming of fall? I'd love to hear about your finds. And don't forget to stop by The Handbook of Nature StudyI'm also linking this post to Nature Tuesdays over at Peace Creek on the Prairie.


Barb-Harmony Art Mom said...

This is an excellent start to your autumn nature study! It will be great for your family to continue to notice the changes as the weeks go by. (There will be a cattail challenge so stay tuned for that!)

Thank you so much for sharing your nature study.

Michelle Smith said...

Thanks for sharing this. I will have to look up the autumn nature study and try to participate, too. I am desperately hoping for a little cooler weather for us to enjoy the outdoors more again.

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