Thursday, May 3, 2012

Nature Walk

The children are lucky that I don't have the time, money or inclination to have a perfectly manicured yard. About once a week we'll take a group perusal of the sights, smells, sounds, textures and tastes to be had. This is a single morning spent in our outdoor classroom.

We just started a gardening unit and have been discussing plant life cycles, plant needs and plant parts. We first pulled one of our radishes and discussed the different plant parts and how we eat the radish root, but the lettuce leaf, the pea seed, the celery stalk and the broccoli flower.

We located dandelions and discussed the differences between a bud, a flower, a seed head and an empty seed head. We looked at the seed to see that the fluff was not actually part of the seed. We blew the seed heads, and watched the seeds fly as we had read about. We watched how far they would fly.

Next we found some maple tree seeds and threw them in the air to watch them helicopter down and discussed that these were ALSO seeds made to fly. We took a walk and carefully watched for maple seeds to spy which one had landed the farthest from the tree. Then we walked back to the tree counting how many of my steps away that was. Twenty-four. If the children had been older, I would have let them count their own steps and also counted mine by two's because I have a two foot stride.

cherry tree
We also checked out all the fruit trees and discussed how the fruit holds the seeds inside. They remembered just a few weeks ago when they were in full bloom. Here we discussed the differences between a tree, bush, plant and vine and how different foods grow on different types.
pear trees
We have these along with apple, peach, plum and apricot trees.

Smelling and tasting the oregano before hitting the lemon balm next to it. 
We also tried the clover today.
Checking out the thorns, soft petals and subtle scent.
Buds versus blooms versus spent blooms.
The thorns on the roses versus the thorns on the berry plants.
[Why do plants have thorns?]
Always a favorite...the fuzzy plant...lamb's ear.
"It's SO soft!"

I have several different peonies around, and each has a slightly different scent. It's a great experience for them to rapidly flit between them and assess the differences. Peonies are wonderful for showing the stamens and pistils and how the ants work to pollinate them, rather than bees, as they gather nectar. 
[Why do plants smell?]

This baby evergreen was soft enough to touch, but still prickly. We compared it's size to the medium one in the middle of the yard and the big one at the side. [Why are some plants prickly?]

We spied a white butterfly, we also found a monarch. 
[Why did the butterfly land on the flower?]
When we found the butterflies, we just had to fly like butterflies. 

On the back of the property B spied this leaf with a red dot. She thought it was a lady bug. We found out it was an insect egg...and there were a LOT more of them on a taller maple sapling behind it. This gave rise to discussion of insect life cycles, a review of some of our just finished egg unit points, and a brainstorming on what kind of insect they could be from, since we didn't see any nearby. [Why are the eggs stuck to the leaf?]

We have a couple of boards that we term the "bug boards." We regularly turn them over to see what is there. It's a race to see what all we can see before many of them disappear. The spiders head off first. LUCKILY. If not, I encourage them along with a stick after the children get a view. Today there was only one small brown one. We also saw a couple small black milliipedes, a larger brown centipede, snail, slugs and lots of pill bugs [rollie pollies]. [Why do the bugs live under the boards?]

The 11-year-old likes playing with slugs, he just hates the hassle of getting the slime off afterward. It really sticks. He named this one Darrin. [Why do slugs make slime?]

Doesn't she look sweet feeling the peony? You can't tell from this pic how filthy she is. Muddy tiger stripes on each cheek, muddy feet, muddy dress. 
PROOF...It was a great day!

Posted to the Outdoor Link Up

Tags: nature, nature study, preschool, prek, pre-k, toddler, senses, backyard, exploration, bugs, bug, science, plant, plants, herbs, flowers, childcare, daycare, sensory, outdoor


  1. So many amazing science lessons! Great job incorporating so much learning into the beautiful discoveries in your outdoor play space.
    Thanks for linking up this week to the outdoor play party.

    1. I appreciate the opportunity, Abbie. Thank you!!