I took my own advice last week and headed into our backyard for a bit of nature study. We have one tree in our yard now, thanks to a storm when Lulu was a baby that revealed to us the wisdom of having the exceedingly tall pine trees in our front yard removed. Our remaining tree is a lovely maple that puts on quite a show in autumn.
We walked around the tree and discussed its shape, noting in particular that one limb is missing at the trunk. We also noted the texture of the bark–how deeply grooved it is.
I intended to collect a few leaves and then head back inside to do our sketching and painting (or whatever the girls decided to do), but it was such a beautiful day (and the DLM was so happy to be outside!) that I wiped off our Little Tikes picnic table, gathered our materials, and we stayed outside for a bit of nature artwork.
I taught them some new words during our nature time, words that I would never have known if I hadn’t watched Barb’s leaf sketching tutorials. We talked about a leaf’s midrib, veins, and how the petioles on some of these leaves were a beautiful pinkish-red.
The girls each sketched a leaf and then made some leaf rubbings for their nature notebooks. I think they did a beautiful job.
I even got in on the action this time. 🙂 I love using the watercolor pencils and blending the colors together with a wet paintbrush.
Mary asked last week about the notebooking pages we use for our nature study. These pages (and most of our inspiration!) come from Barb’s Handbook of Nature Study blog. There’s a box on her blog in the right sidebar where you can enter your email address to subscribe to her blog and get her monthly newsletter, which is where the notebooking page we used (seen above) came from.
I wanted to plug a few tree books in this (already lengthy) post while I’m at it.
Most avid readers of children’s literature, particularly nonfiction, probably already know Jim Arnosky’s lovable naturalist, Crinkleroot. Somehow, I missed him. However, his name was firmly planted in my mind by Carrie’s praise, and after reading Mary’s post entitled “Do you know Crinkleroot?”, I knew I had to seek him out. I love this book–Crinkleroot’s Guide to Knowing the Trees. We did not read it straight through; to me, it’s more of a title to dip into when needed. I love how “home-made” it feels, especially in this day and age of computer generated illustrations. I love how the illustrations and even the diagrams still look hand-drawn. The tone of the book is so casual, so “you can do this, too”–it’s very encouraging to a young naturalist. Highly Recommended. (Simon & Schuster, 1992) (I think the Crinkleroot titles must be out-of-print, so if you find one, snap it up! If you don’t want it, I do! 🙂 )
Of course Gail Gibbons has a book about trees. Of course! I consider her the Queen of Juvenile Nonfiction; she really has the ability to break down complex topics in a way that even young children can understand. Tell Me, Tree: All about Trees for Kids does just that–from a brief look at photosynthesis to what’s inside a tree to how to distinguish between the two main types (and then how to further identify a particular tree), it’s all here in a very accessible format. I think with the Crinkleroot book and this one, you really have all you need to engage in a real-life study of trees. (Little, Brown, 2002)
I’m pretty sure that I saw Redwoods by Jason Chin on someone’s blog, but now I can’t find the review. If it was yours, thank you. 🙂 (For the record, no, we don’t have any redwoods standing tall and proud in our backyard, but I thought it fit with our theme so I went with it!) We were mesmerized by this book and its tale of the majestic giants! I like how the little boy on the cover is on every page of the book, and while it’s not written from his perspective (it’s more of an informational book than a storybook), the readers pick up on the awesome majesty of the giant trees simply by looking at his face. Really, we knew very little about the redwoods, and this book served to whet our appetite to know even more. In fact, it prompted me to look up a video on the redwoods, something I’m not prone to do. This is another Highly Recommended title, but this one makes me want to hop on a plane and head west. Visit the book’s website here and the author’s website here, or even better, get your hands on this terrific book and read it yourself! (Roaring Brook, 2009)
If those aren’t enough, here are a few more posts in which I’ve written about tree books:
We’ll be dipping into these books and others more in the days ahead. I’m excited about continuing our study of our maple tree in the weeks to come!