Our nature study theme for this month was for the majestic oak tree. We were inspired by the Handbook of Nature Study.
Our study began with a search for an oak that was close by. We don't have any on our property, but there is one in our church yard. It is owned by our music director. It is very old and is actually split. Someone has put cords around it to try and increase its life span. I would have to guess that it is about 40 feet tall, although we have not done any actual measurements.
Then we gathered some of it's leaves to try and identify which type of oak it is. The leaves are pointy so it is definitely in the black oak family. We were initially torn between red oak and scarlet oak, but upon closer examination we settled on scarlet.
Then we took an ink print of the leaves. We made these by rubbing the leaf onto a stamp pad and pressing into our notebooks.
Then we read from the Handbook of Nature Study to see what we could learn about oaks, the black oaks, and finally the scarlet oak.
Our oak tree didn't have acorns that were regular sized (there were some very small ones), so we used some from our nature table. We keep lots of collections of things there. The kids then went out and buried 3 each in different places around the yard. They will go out to hunt for them next week to see if they are as smart as a squirrel. :)
My collection of interesting facts from the Handbook of Nature Study:
- oaks can grow to be 80-100 ft. tall
- branches have wide angles
- the leaves on an individual tree vary greatly
- acorns are different on each of the different types of trees
- until an oak is at least 20 acorns can not be produced
- oaks have long strong tap roots and surface roots act as braces
- the wood is heavy and strong, tough and course
- the heart is brown and the the sapwood is whitish
- the crown of the tree looks rounded, oval
- black oaks have dark bark, smooth leaves on both sides, leaves end in points, acorns are bitter and acorns take 2 years to mature
- scarlet oaks have a deep and brilliant red acorn
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