Changing Leaves. Reflections, Paul’s Pre-K, Week 14

Autumn is definitely here. The trees in upstate New York are beginning to turn with the season. It’s always glorious. With Elizabeth in school, Paul and I have been able to get more done more often. We finished the fireflies … Continue reading

Nature Walks – December 2015

“So come, get ready.  Don’t delay!  We’re on a nature trail today.” ~Maurice Pledger, from In The Forest For the most part, December 2015 was in the 50’s here in upstate NY, we didn’t even have a white Christmas.  Snow … Continue reading

Nature Walks – October 2015

“So come, get ready. Don’t delay! We’re on a nature trail today.” ~Maurice Pledger, from In the Forest As I keep saying, time just feels like it’s flying, and I can’t believe that October is come and gone! For the … Continue reading

Nature Walks – September 2015

“So come, get ready.   Don’t delay!  We’re on a nature trail today.” ~Maurice Pledger, from In The Forest September.  September done, no less.  Actually, my nature walks pictures from September 2014 were in my mind all month.  I kept remember … Continue reading

Nature Walks – December (Plus a Leaf Pop Quiz)

“So come, get ready. Don’t delay!  We’re on a nature trail today!”

~Maurice Pledger, from In The Forest

The weather fluctuated between warmer and colder this month, sometimes calling us out and other times making us want to stay in.  With all of the preparations for the holidays, we didn’t make it out as much on our nature walks as in other months, but Elizabeth and I did go out one day while Paul was sleeping and saw lots of interesting things.  As well, the pictures being produced by my camera just aren’t up to par anymore and I’m wondering if maybe I ought to invest in another one.  Even so, here are some pictures from around our garden and bird feeders on a cooler day, and a warmer one.


Elizabeth found this leaf with ice crystals on it under the bird feeder.  Can you identify the leaf (A)?


She also noticed these ice crystals in the dirt, and asked me what they were.  The picture is so neat to me that I made it the header on my other blog, Seedling.  Can you ID that leaf (B)?


On a warmer day, while Brother was sleeping, we headed outside just the two of us for a little while.  Down by the garden we saw all sorts of neat things, like this black walnut half partially filled with water.  This of course came back to the house with us. 🙂


I then showed Elizabeth the money-face leaf-scars that the leaves leave behind when they fall off in the fall.  Whew!  Say that three times quickly.  They are sideways in my picture, with the chin on the right-hand side.  You can also see some fuzzy leaf-buds forming during the tree’s winter dormancy.  (Actually, you can see the monkey face on the stick next to the walnut half above, but I like this picture too, so I’m gonna leave it.)


Elizabeth also found a large leaf that she liked.  After drilling her on what kind of leaf it is, I took a close up of the texture of it’s back-side.  Can you guess what kind it is (C)?


Lastly, we went into the garden and our boots got really, really, really muddy as we looked around.  I found some cotton-tailed rabbit scat, which was very interesting to Elizabeth.  She then spotted two more piles.  I wanted to take a picture for the sake of this post, but couldn’t locate the first pile, which was a little bit bigger and ‘neater’ (as in one spot), and she was the one who was able to find it again.  Future naturalist.  Do you know what kind of leaf is laying above the scat (D)?

Pop quiz: Identify the leaves in the pictures (A-D), and let me know your answers in the comments section.  Good luck!

Nature Walks – October

“So come, get ready. Don’t delay! We’re on a nature trail today.”

~Maurice Pledger, from In The Forest

October was beautiful here in Upstate New York.  I spent a lot of time raking leaves, and the kids came out and jumped in the piles.  Here are some pictures of autumn in our yard.


One day, Elizabeth decided that she wanted to have a picnic.  Her brother was asleep, so we took some blankets and snacks outside.  It was breezy and the clouds were moving fast overhead.  I enjoyed just laying back and watching them, something I don’t have the time to do very often.


A very small sampling of trees in our woods.  Just this amount of trees lets loose A LOT of leaves though!


One day while raking, I found this huge worm right up on top of the grass.  Both kids held it for a while, then Elizabeth “saved” it by carrying it to the center circle that our driveway runs around.


Also while raking, I also found these two caterpillars.  Our woods house lots of different kinds of caterpillars, and support a healthy bird population – which we absolutely love!

Nature Walks – September

“So come, get ready. Don’t delay! We’re on a nature trail today.”

~Maurice Pledger

This comes almost a month late, but better late than never, I guess.  My excuse is appropriate though, I feel, as I haven’t had a proper computer for the past three months. But finally!  Though, unfortunately, we are not sure that we like what we got…and may send it back.  Until we make a final decision, I did all ready download some pictures, so I might as well use them.


Summer lake

On Labor Day, we headed to the lake, and enjoyed the summer weather riding bikes, playing in the water park, picnicking, and fishing.


Cicada on sunflower

Elizabeth spotted this cicada while we were down by the garden.  We had just been on the road, and hearing the cicadas, I had commented that sometimes we used to see them on the branches of the trees in Honduras, but I had never seen one here in the US like that.  We briefly looked into the high branches but didn’t see anything there, as cicadas blend in pretty well.  But then we went to the garden and her keen eyes spotted this one on a bright sunflower.


Butterfly chrysalis

One day, I spotted this chrysalis on the little used clothes-line, which is strung between trees behind the house, slightly in the woods.  Elizabeth has long been interested in chrysalises, I sometimes wrap her up in a blanket as a “pupa”.


Large basswood leaves

For the unit in which we read We’re Going On a Leaf Hunt, we went on a leaf hunt. On our hunt, we collected leaves of many different species of trees and shrubs.  Our hunt culminated in these huge basswood leaf, which Elizabeth could not resist. She picked the one in her hand.


Monarch butterfly

Lastly, one day while looking at the cows across the road from the part of the property that is down by the garden (our property touches two roads), I happened to look down and see that the toddler was standing on this monarch butterfly.  We picked it up gently, then carried it down to the horsebarn (that has no horse :(…), and Elizabeth wanted to leave it inside in case it was just stunned.  The following day, she checked to see if it was still there, and it wasn’t.  We hoped that it had flown away and continued on it’s journey south.

Leaves and More Leaves. Reflections, Week 9

Our book this unit, We’re Going on a Leaf Hunt, by Steve Metzger, is Elizabeth’s favorite so far, yet it seems like it’s taking us forever to get through the unit.


Oak. Photo via Wikimedia Commons by Inti-sol.

Last week, on Tuesday, we began the unit by going on our own leaf hunt together while Paul was visiting at my grandmother’s. It was a lot of fun – to do, and to watch her observing leaves, as she went on a search for leaves of different kinds of trees. We went down through the woods, to the garden, and into the neighbor’s small apple orchard, then returned to the house and met my grandmother as we finished up in the front yard and around the driveway, where there are other species of trees that aren’t found in the woods.

Since then we have counted and sorted the leaves a number of times and ways, adding the element of the number cards to work on number recognition. I’ve found though, that once we did a leaf activity one way, it is hard to redirect her on a separate occasion to a different method with the same materials. Is this because she is such a fast learner, or something of the first child syndrome as seeing things very black and white?  It does make it a challenge for me to get the lesson rolling as she tries to take charge and repeat the previous lesson. This is cool, and I try to go along with it for a little while, encouraging her to try to do the new activity as well, or by beginning the new activity and encouraging her to jump in too.

I’m kind of surprised at this mentality in her actually because we’ve always been kind of random in the way we do things. I get bored easily, but have learned that to kill the boredom I usually just have to change one element of the situation, and then I’m content, so I tend to do things like that with the kids. An example would be our nature walks. Nature always changes of course, but where we go on the property and how we get there changes each time we go out. Having Elizabeth kind of stuck in a loop with our lessons kind of throws me for a loop. Not matter, though, we are just somewhere in the learning experience.


Beech leaves. Photo via Wikimedia Commons by Luis Fernandez Garcia.

Beyond the mental loop, I’m also having difficulty getting her interested in the last few activities of the unit. Unit 4 had lots of work sheets and activities in the workbook which really engaged her even though she didn’t express a whole lot of interest in the book (which actually really surprised me because I thought it was her kind of book), but this unit incorporates these leaves over and over again. Now that we are done sorting them, I just can’t seem to get her interested in repurposing them for gluing activities, like a leaf wreath, which sounds nice to me :).

On the flip side, we’ve been pretty busy and have suffered a (not totally unanticipated) death in the family. As well, we are busy with autumn-time activities like putting up food for the winter from the garden, so it’s not like we’ve been sitting around. I’ll give our last few activities a few more tries this weekend or the beginning of next week (everyday has the possibility of being a school day at our house, especially because school activities don’t take very long and are lots of fun).  If I can’t get her engaged, I guess we’ll just move on to the next unit, with the possibility of returning to them later.

Chime in: How do you engage a disinterested learner?