After posting, Tree Study: Weeping Cherry Blossom Tree, Pauline from Homeschooling Monty Style asked me, "How do you ACTUALLY incorporate it into your year?"
When I started to comment, I realized I was writing a blog post and not a comment. :) So here's how we study a tree...
We usually begin right before school starts. I pick about 3 trees that are different than one that we have studied before. Then I let the kids choose which we will study for the year.
Four times a year we take an afternoon to visit our tree (once a season). I try to choose the time in the season where something exciting is happening. If it is a blossoming tree, we wait until the buds are in full bloom in the spring (although we sometimes note the small changes in the buds when we are out and about). In the autumn, we catch the tree when it looks to be at its peak color change or when nuts are falling, fruits are ripe, or pine cones are dropping.
Then the things you can do are endless. These things usually last long passed one afternoon.
2) You can take a leaf and press it (we use cardboard and rubber bands to press leaves and flowers).
3) You can research the tree online, with library books, a tree nature guide, or the Handbook of Nature Study.
These are some terrific sites for identifying trees from the leaves:I've Got my Leaf
Leaf, Tree ID
Nature Detectives: Leaves
What tree is it?
4) You can take photos of the tree and compare across the seasons or take a picture of the kids in front of the tree. We do this at the beginning of our study and at the end. We can see how our tree has changed and how the kids have changed, too.
5) You can check out the wildlife you notice around the tree-bees, butterflies, squirrels, chipmunks, different types of birds, etc. Then you've got a whole new study.
6) You can bring in a branch in the winter (usually February) and put it in a glass of water to let the buds open.
7) You can do sketches with color pencils or paint watercolors.
We don't do all of these things with every tree all of the time, but these are great ways to really get to know the trees around you.
What do you do with your tree studies?
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