Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Great Ideas to Share: Nature Museum and More

It amazes me what great ideas we all come up with together and then are willing to share. Here is a great idea from a reader that she shares on her blog:
The Museum
They have taken the idea of a nature journal and made it into a great visual "museum" for their family. Her son was a reluctant nature study and nature journal student until he read the Boxcar Childrenbook that told about how they made a museum. Ellie's children were inspired to take the idea and apply it to their nature study.

I love this idea and I have already cleared a spot on our school area wall to hang some of our sketches and ideas until they find their way into the nature journals...which for my boys are binders. Thanks for sharing your idea Ellie.

Last week, Melissa shared a fantastic entry on nature study on her blog, In the Sparrow's Nest. She explains in her entry Carving out Time for Nature Walks the many benefits of nature study in each and every family. She challenges us all to make it a priority and to view getting outdoors and observing all the living creatures around us as important as math and reading. I couldn't agree more. Thanks Melissa for sharing your heart with us all in your entry. I encourage all that have not read this entry yet to pop over and take a few minutes to be prodded to do more with nature study.

I am always so inspired when I read the Outdoor Hour Challenge links each week. Each one is a gem to me. I encourage you if you have a few minutes to check out some of the links at the bottom of each Outdoor Hour Challenge. You will not regret it.

Thanks for all the great ideas.
Barb-Harmony Art Mom

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Hummingbird Moth or White-Lined Sphinx Moth

Another gift this morning....a hummingbird moth or a white-lined sphinx moth. (click this link for a better look at what we saw this morning)

I heard this guy in the skylight of the kitchen last night but I couldn't get him to come down so I could see what sort of moth he was. This morning as I was sipping my morning cup of coffee, he buzzed right over to collect some nectar from the vase of flowers on my kitchen table. Can you believe that? We all watched as he hovered around the flowers and then up over the table. This was our first experience with a hummingbird moth and it was fantastic.

He flew up to the ceiling and landed in the corner. Please excuse the really ugly background for this beautiful moth. We re in the middle remodeling our living room and he landed right in the dusty corner where we are sheetrocking....of course.

I pulled out my Handbook of Nature Study and I was surprised to find that there is a complete section on hummingbird and sphinx moths, pages 320-325.
"The have long, rather narrow, strong wings which enable them to fly with extraordinary rapidity. ...Their colors show most harmonious combinations and most exquisite contrasts; the pattern, although often complex, shows perfect refinement.....Most of the sphinx moths have remarkably long tongues, which are sometimes twice the length of the body."
Handbook of Nature Study, page 321
This was a very interesting insect to read about and I will be on the look out now for more of them. I read in the Handbook that they especially like petunias, morning glories, and nasturtiums which are all planted in my new garden from the spring!

Another gift....thank you.

Barb-Harmony Art Mom

Friday, August 22, 2008

Nature Study as We Go About Our Everyday Life

This week we had some new and interesting things come our way for nature study. We seem to find things. We saw this field of wildflowers along the bike trail in our local area. The field was so pretty in the early morning light and I couldn't resist taking a few photos.

Common Madia

I even got a photo with a bee in it as part of our insect study this week.

My son found this moth in the bathroom and called me in to get a photo of the "pretty moth" on the wall. Cool.

We visited the pond this week and we brought home some water, plants, and some fish. This snail came along for the ride.

This is something else new for me...not sure what it is. The fruit looks sort of like a cherry. Isn't it frustrating when you just don't know what you want to know? I will try to figure it out and come back and edit. This was in the parking lot where I was waiting for the boys.
Edit: Thanks everyone....rose hips! The bush is so big and I didn't realize it was a rose but I am sure that everyone is right....rose hips. Thanks again.

The cutest thing we saw this week was a squirrel eating walnuts from our tree. He had such a long bushy tail and he didn't mind that we watched him as he nibbled. There are plenty of nuts for everyone. My son discovered the squirrel while he was in the backyard working on a project.

We had a lot of incidental nature study this week. I love that when it happens.

Barb-Harmony Art Mom

Outdoor Hour Challenge #27 Bees

Bees on the Lavender

“During many years naturalists have been studying the habits and adaptations of the honeybees, and, as yet, the story of their wonderful ways is not half told. Although we know fairly well what the bees do, yet we have no inkling of the processes which lead to a perfect government and management of the bee community; and even the beginner may discover things never known before about these fascinating little workers.”
Handbook of Nature Study, page 391
We have lots of honeybees and bumblebees in our area of California. I love to watch them on my lavender plants and on my other garden flowers. I love to sit and let them buzz up right next to me so I can see them clearly. I have had a sting or two in my life but usually because I stepped on a bee in the grass with bare feet.

“The structure of honeycomb has been for ages admired by mathematicians, who have measured the angles of the cells and demonstrated the accurate manner in which the rhomb-shaped cell changes at its base to a three-faced pyramid; and have proved that, considering the material of construction, honeycomb exemplifies the strongest and most economic structure possible for the storing of liquid contents.”
Handbook of Nature Study, page 395
I am fascinated with the geometry of the honeycomb and read with interest the section in the Handbook on honeycombs starting on page 395. Maybe it has something to do with my love for eating honey.

Outdoor Hour Challenge #27
Focus on Insects-Bees

(You may also like to look at the Yellow Jacket and Mud Dauber Challenge.)

1. This week read about bees in the Handbook of Nature Study, pages 384-400. There are sections on leaf-cutter bees, carpenter bees, bumblebees, and honeybees in the Handbook of Nature Study. You may not have every kind of bee in your location but I found the information very interesting and maybe someday I will have the opportunity to observe all the different kinds of bees discussed in the book. Remember our focus right now is on insects so if you don’t find a bee to observe, you can always look for other insects to study.

2. Your 15-20 minutes of outdoor time this week can be spent looking for insects. Make your goal just to get outside in your own backyard and find something to observe with your child. If during that time you find an insect, take as long as you can to describe what it looks like, what it is doing, and then try to come up with some questions to answer later with your Handbook of Nature Study or a field guide. If you find a bee to observe during your nature time or at another time during the week, use the opportunity to relate some facts from your reading in the Handbook of Nature Study.

Honeybee entry (3)

3. Give the opportunity for a nature journal entry. It might be hard to draw a bee from your outdoor time but it would be a great idea to find a photo of a bee online or use the diagram on page 391 to make an entry about bees in your journal. Another idea is to use a notebooking page and fill it in with your thoughts and observations from your Outdoor Hour time.

4. If you are keeping a running list of insects you have observed during this focus period, add the insect’s name to the list

 OHC Blog Carnival
Post an entry on your blog sharing your experiences. You can link up by clicking the carnival button or you can send them directly to me: harmonyfinearts@yahoo.com.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Crane Flat Meadow: Yosemite National Park

Just another example of a simple nature journal for you to see. This is one with doodling...sometimes you just need to doodle in your nature journal and see what happens.

Remember to have fun when you journal. You can make it as simple or as fancy as you wish. No wrong answers.

Barb-Harmony Art Mom

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Charlotte Mason Blog Carnival

Charlotte Mason homeschoolers,

Would you please pop over to my other blog to complete a poll about the upcoming edition of the Charlotte Mason Blog Carnival? I am trying to pick a theme.

Harmony Art Mom

The poll is on the top left sidebar.

Thanks for your help.

Did you read the latest edition of the Charlotte Mason Blog Carnival Back to School Planning Bash yet? It has been an amazing success!

Back to School Planning Bash

Barb-Harmony Art Mom

Crazy for Ladybugs: Outdoor Hour Challenge #26

We love ladybugs in our garden. It is as simple as that. They always make me smile when I see them crawling around in the grass or on the rose bushes. Maybe it is the nostalgia of childhood memories that flood in when I see ladybugs....you know, singing *that* song. :)

Here is a link to an entry that I wrote a few months ago on finding a ladybug larva and a ladybug in my garden. This is an example of how taking the time to focus on something different in your own yard leads to a lot of really great information and then satisfaction.
Ladybug Entry

Anyway, we recently observed a different kind of ladybug. I did take photos but now they are missing...hmmmm, it might actually have something to do with the number of photos I take each week. I have a hard time keeping them organized. :)

Anyway, here are some thoughts from the Handbook of Nature Study that I enjoyed:
From the Handbook of Nature Study, page 366:
"The ladybird is a beetle. Its young are very different from the adult in appearance, and feed upon plant lice."
"These little beetles are very common in autumn and may be brought to the schoolroom and passed around in vials for the children to observe. Their larvae may be found on almost any plant infested with plant lice. Plant and all may be brought into the school room and the actions of the larvae noted by the pupils during recess."
From page 365:
"From our standpoint the ladybird is of great value, for during the larval as well as adult stages, all species except one feed upon those insects which we are glad to be rid of."

"The ladybird is a clever little creature, even if it does look like a pill, and if you disturb it, it will fold up its legs and drop as if dead, playing possum in a most deceptive manner."
Here is one of our nature journals.

I don't usually have to go far during the summer to find a ladybug or some aphids. The boys will point out that I have a ladybug in my hair or there will be one hiding among the weeds on the edges of the garden box. They just seem to go hand in hand with summer gardening.

Want an update on my garden? Here you go! All the photos in this entry are from this week in my garden.

Fading Coneflowers

Green beans growing up the poles in my garden box

My first nasturtium....we must plant more of these next year.

My morning glories are glorious.

Our butterfly bush in blooming...two different colors. Click to see them.

The days are getting shorter again and I can feel autumn nipping at my heels. It won't be long now...sigh.

Barb-Harmony Art Mom