I think I’ve finally had the inspiration for my children’s book! And it comes, of all things, from my own amazing daughter. Well, it should come as no surprise really. She really is so amazing!
She has been having a very up and down week. I’m not sure what set it off, last week we seemed to be coming up out of the spiral, it seemed as though we were beginning to heal, but this week has been less even than day to day, but hour to hour with her.
One thing that never changes though is her love of the outdoors, and taking care of the things that are alive on our property. She is extremely observant, and just seems so connected to the outdoors, it’s amazing to watch, and I am in love with it in it’s entirety! If she is not always gentle with other people and moody over nothing (always has been), the knowledge that she possesses, and the care that she displays for nature is wonderful.
For the children’s book, my idea was: “The Girl Who Saves Wooly Bears” and is about all the ways that Elizabeth cares for things in nature – easy things that any child could do, like move wooly bears out of the line of traffic (foot traffic that is) or put spiders outside instead of squishing them. I read her what I had written, and it seemed to touch her greatly.
Well, in keeping true to taking care of the Earth, yesterday she spotted some milkweed that had pods that had burst open and were releasing their seeds down at our overgrown garden. In the spring, her Ranger Rick, Jr. magazine had had a program that kids could sign up for called ‘Being Monarch Heroes,’ and they sent us a seed packet for milkweed. Well, none of the seeds grew that we planted, but we had milkweed anyway, since our garden was left to grow over after Chepe moved out in July – a blessing for more than just myself apparently!
Elizabeth was very worried at first that the seeds were dispersing, but I helped her realize that that was what we wanted to have happen, and she and I set to helping the milkweed plants disperse their seeds in an area that doesn’t get cut until the end of the year. Today, we returned to the garden to finish up, and dispersed the seeds over the area of the garden outside of the fence that I have absolutely no intention of planting next year, but that will not be mowed either because it is so over grown. Then, as we were heading to my mom’s for dinner tonight, she wanted to take some there so that Mima could have some milkweed and Monarchs too! She collected about 10 pods to take, and just before dark, we walked down to an area on the property that is left shrubby and has a 4-wheeler trail through it and dispersed the seeds there too. Probably we let hundreds of seeds out of their pods, so hopefully we will see lots of milkweed next year! And hopefully the Monarchs will come around too!
It’s so wonderful to see my daughter so connected to the Earth and to care about it so much! It warms my heart!
And did our activity have a learning component to it?! Of course it did! It taught her how to identify milkweed seeds. It taught her about seeds that use the wind for dispersal – and she made her own connection that milkweed seeds are like dandelion seeds in that respect. It taught her about wind direction and how that affects seeds that use it for seed dispersal. It taught her about how many seeds could possibly be in one pod. We helped disperse seeds that were in pods that had all ready broken open and others that were just on the brink. In the second type, the seeds were still packed tightly together in a cone shape, and when we broke them apart the fuzz didn’t fuzz up like those in the ones that had broken open on their own, as they were still a little moist yet, but the seeds were just fine for letting out, it just happened that the pods had not dried completely enough to break down it’s seam. We discussed this as we pulled the white fuzzies apart. We discussed shapes and numbers. She more firmly made the connection between where the plants need to grown so that they don’t get mowed down. She asked if any other bugs use milkweed as well – and I honestly didn’t know, something to look up tomorrow!
Overall, it was a fun activity. Hopefully because of it, we will be able to see some monarch caterpillars next year, and maybe even find some chrysalises! That would be awesome!
Share your thoughts: What are some fun nature-based activities that you do in the fall?
Click on photo to be re-routed to photographer’s Flickr page.