Sedges Have Edges :: Nature Study

We went to the museum again for our weekly nature walk… though, the weather was a little chilly and due to a slight miscommunication in scheduling, our walk didn’t get put on the interpretive talks / animal encounter schedule until a just a few moments before we were to begin. Alas, it was just the 3 of us, allowing us time to practice and focus more on the challenge for last week’s Green Hour Challenge

I decided to focus on tree buds (as I knew it would be do-able in the field with lots of kids – should they come) and they would be able to extend the activity easily at home. Before we departed, I jotted down some notes and made a quick sketch in my journal to label the parts of a typical branch.When we started on our walk, we headed directly to the pond. In Central Oregon, the Ponderosa Pine and Junipers dominate… so I knew the best place for deciduous trees on the museum grounds would be near the pond.

We spent a few minutes watching the trout, a turtle and a Canada Goose before we turned our focus to ‘Signs of Spring’. Each of the kids pointed out trees that had buds on them. I told them that spring also brought out resident birds in search of nesting sights, migrating birds stopping by for a rest and a meal, and the rushes and grasses would send up new green shoots. They were quickly able to find evidence of new sedges growing up along the banks of the pond.

I shared with them a poem I used to teach my 4th graders:

“Sedges have edges,
Rushes are round,
Grasses have bumps all the way to the ground.”

We then took a small branch clipping so we could look more closely at the buds inside. It was uncomfortably cold out and I knew they wouldn’t be able to focus much longer outdoors. When we got back inside, they each climbed up on a bench and pulled out the small loupes to take a closer look at their discovery.

I encouraged them to sketch their branch in their nature journals. I was confidant Sweetie would have no difficulty but she struggled a little with the right technique. She wanted to trace the entire branch and was frustrated the branch was larger than her journal. I made a few suggestions and she was underway.

Buddy, on the other hand, surprised me. He doesn’t normally color or sketch anything! But he got right to it and completed his sketch in just a few minutes. Needless to say, I was impressed that he got even a slight resemblance (he’s done nothing but scribble before now). He is a little budding artist, too! (yes, the pun was intended).

I, myself, didn’t get a chance to sketch a single bud. Though I did bring home the clippings we took and I made a few notes. We’ll come back to our journals again tomorrow.



Un-Nature Trail – A Scavenger Hunt

I volunteered to coordinate a monthly nature hike for the homeschool co-op with whom we’ve connected. My plan is to develop a hike around a specific theme or topic area and meet every 3rd Tuesday of the month (allowing for changes due to holidays, the calendars of potential resource specialist/guest speakers, etc.).

We gathered yesterday for the first time and seeing as it was the first time, I thought it would be fun to do an Un-Nature Walk or nature scavenger hunt. I’ve done them with my students in the past and have always had success. The students have enjoyed them and everyone is engaged in the activity … suitable for all learning styles.

nature walk

Literature Connection

These walks are designed to get the ‘learners’ to be more observant while walking … encouraging them to slow down and listen, taking note of small movements and sounds, connecting with their surroundings. So, to begin, we read The Other Way to Listenby Byrd Baylor and Peter Parnall.

unnature walk

Un-Nature Trail

We then started our walk. I slowly led the group along a meandering trail on which I had intentionally hidden objects that would not normally be found in this area. Some objects were natural (flipper bone from a seal, Douglas fir cone, a pumpkin, shark jaw bone, sand dollars, sandstone w/fossils) and others were not (handmade pine needle basket, small stuffed porcupine). Some objects were concealed well and others were hard to miss. Some were placed on the ground while others were suspended from trees or within the branches of shrubs.

After the initial walk-thru, we all went through together as a group and I pointed out to everyone the objects that were hidden. This provided time for questions and discussion. Many of the boys were intrigued by the piranha specimen, the one object that most overlooked. 🙂

Most everyone found more than 12 objects (there were 16 all together). I obviously didn’t hide them too well… and perhaps more objects were needed. Nonetheless, everyone had a good time. Due to the cold (it was threatening to rain and many of us were shivering despite our layers of clothing), I opted not to extend the activity and provide time for sketching in our nature journals as I normally would. We needed to be moving around. To top it off, my little buddy informed me (non-verbally) that his diaper needed attention, anyway.

This activity is adapted from Sharing Nature With Children by Joseph Cornell.