The first Outdoor Hour challenge is simple. Read pages 1-8 (did that, read my “book review” here) and head outdoors! The focus is Comstock’s principle that “In nature-study the work begins with any plant or creature which chances to interest the pupil.”
So yesterday we went for an hour-long walk around our block and we brought a large bag for collecting things. Amie is very into “collecting” and she gathered wood chips, stones, twigs, leaves, cones large and small, pine needles, maple seeds, and a feather.
As we walked we discussed the colors we saw, the sounds we heard, and even what the wind smelled like (“sour,” she said, but honestly I don’t think she’s even got sweet and salty straightened out yet). We checked out some strange berries, and Amie told me “they’re not for us for eating, but for the birds”.
We looked closely at two trees. One that had three things growing on it: moss, lichen, and some kind of climbing plant. We found it pretty amazing, that those are not the tree’s leaves, but the leaves of a different plant that lives on the tree! The other, otherwise bare tree was hollowed out, and we speculated about what had damaged it and what had been eating it, and whether it lived in the tree. (Click on the pictures for larger image)
Back home I got Amie’s small table out of the guestroom – it was banished when we acquired her large desk – and baptized it our nature table. We assembled all our treasures (along with some bugs that had come along for the ride).
Since then Amie has frequently returned to the table to rearrange things or to finger the small piece of bark with lichen on it that we found on our driveway. the lichen look like tiny plants, but they feel so crusty and crumbly…
Drawing in our field books wasn’t part of this first challenge, but today, when she saw my own drawings of this morning (but about that tomorrow), Amie was keen to draw. It was a true exercise in observational drawing and magic to behold! I took a whole series of pictures, more of which you can see via the Flickr badge in my sidebar.
First it wasn’t clear to me what she was drawing, but it was to her!
Then she moved on to draw and paint the feather – amid much speculation about which bird it used to belong to.
I’m not sure what the two things are that we will be returning to throughout the week (part of the challenge). I’m reading up on the lichen (Comstock, p.715) and the feather (pp.29-33), etc. But I’m going to see where Amie takes it. Like Lori says, Don’t plan ahead, Plan along!