Sunday, November 22, 2009

Acorns and Oaks Study

"Through cloud rifts the sunlight is streaming in floods to far depths of the wood. Retouching the velvet-leafed dogwood to crimson as vital as blood." Handbook of Nature Study

We took our first nature walk in ages last Friday and marveled at the beauty of the dogwoods, which Pamela likes to call redwoods. Nature study is something easy to skip, but, whenever we get back into the habit, we realized what was missing in our lives.

We had no problem finding acorns for this belated autumn series challenge. Our block is full of oaks. In fact, two tall willow oaks stand on the border of our property, on the neighbor's side. In the spring, yellow catkins color our driveway, while, in the fall, yellow leaves and acorns, which attract squirrels, blue jays, carolina wrens, and tufted titmice to our yard, leave clutter everywhere. Cars crossing the driveway leave a trail of smashed acorns the color of Cheeze-itz. We leisurely walked around several blocks near our home picking up acorns and leaves to journal at home.

Typical nature walks abound with opportunities for sharing joint attention and this walk was no exception. While Pamela was taking notes about an oak tree for her science folder, I noticed a visitor on the trunk. I said, "Pamela! I see a friend!"

"Where?" she asked.

I kept looking at the trunk and answered, "Right there on the bark. Don't you see our little friend."

Suddenly, she smiled and exclaimed, "A beetle!"

Animals are such swift creatures that Pamela finds it difficult to shift attention fast enough. I tried pointing out a hilarious action scene between a squirrel and mockingbird, but she missed it. So, I narrated what had happened for her. The hapless squirrel was madly scampering up the roof of a house with a mockingbird in hot pursuit. Just as the squirrel reached the apex, the mean jet jockey beaned it on the back of its head. The squirrel bounded over the roof like a muscle mobile bounding over a hill in a seventies car chase scene. If you do not believe it is possible, then you need to spend more time outdoors. Here is a video to prove my point!

We even discovered a bouquet mushrooms, neatly placed on a delicately woven mat of mycelium, which we will study next week for our fungus study.

Today, Pamela finished up her study, drawing an acorn on the notebook page, making leaf ink prints as suggested on page 642 of the Comstock book, and recording her ideas in her nature journal. While you may find it hard to see, Pamela drew the acorn in pencil and carefully made criss-cross lines for the texture of the saucer before she colored it with marker. She experimented with coloring her ink prints with marker.

The Comstock book suggested planting some acorns to see if they will sprout. Given my black thumb in cooking and gardening, there is very little chance of that!

Pamela recorded her thoughts in her nature journal and made these stunning ink prints. She decided what to write to reflect our walk.


Barb said...

Really great oak study for you and your daughter. I love hearing how you adapt and share nature with her. :)

I have never heard of a willow oak....thanks for sharing your oaks from your neighborhood.

Thanks for the link,
Barb-Harmony Art Mom

poohder said...

It all so great. All our leaves have long been gone here in Missouri.
FYI,I'm told we have an unusual oak in our yard called a Spindle Oak.

walking said...

I'm figuring you'd hate us in our T-shirts in November . . . today is colder though . . . drizzly and miserable--a great day to hunt for mushrooms.

I've never heard of a spindle oak--awesome!

Nikki said...

I loved reading your post. We are new to the OH Challenge but we posted our first one today. ~ Nikki