Noticing Nature – Nature Prompts: March 2017

Noticing Nature - Nature Prompts for Children and Their Families_ March 2017.jpg

Marcescent Plants

The nature word of the month is “marcescent” so your challenge is to take notice of the marcescent trees in your area.  Add some sketches of the leaves to your nature journal or take photos and display them on your nature shelf.  Don’t forget to add the date, the location you found the tree, and the type of tree (if you don’t know this would make a wonderful investigation activity).

winter shades of green

Shades of Green

Year after year my children and I are amazed at how many shades of green we notice during the winter months, even when there is a thick layer of snow covering the ground.  I shared this colors of fall color wheel as part of the October nature prompts and since it was so popular, I thought I would create one to use for a shades of green nature hunt.  How many can you match?  If you celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, going on a green nature hunt is a perfect activity to tie in to the day’s fun.

Download the Shades of Green color wheel, print it on card stock (for durability you could also laminate it or glue cut out wheel to an empty cereal box), and get hunting!

Winter Tree Bud Nature Hunt

Did you know that usually by mid-summer deciduous trees have formed their buds for the following spring?  Winter is a great time to get out and observe the variety of buds as they are easy to spot on the bare branches.  You might be amazed at the variety of shapes, sizes, colors and arrangements.

You can find some helpful resources in the ‘Identifying Winter Trees‘ post but here is some terminology to know before you head out:

Arrangement

Like the branches of a tree, its buds also grow in certain arrangements:

  • opposite –  structures (branches, buds, leaves) grow in pairs from opposite sides of the twig at the same level
  • alternate – structures grow singly from the twig without another leaf directly across the twig
  • whorled – three or more structures grow from the same level on the twig

The scales of a bud, if present, also have unique arrangements:

  • imbricate – multiple scales that overlap each other like shingles
  • valvate – 2 to 3 scales that do not overlap
  • naked – there are no scales covering the leaf bud

Shape

If you’d like to learn the specific names of the various shapes that tree buds, this is an easy to understand resource with drawings and matching photos.

Once you have reviewed this vocabulary, print off the ‘Tree Bud Bingo‘ sheet (we like to laminate ours for repeated use), grab your Bingo marker and see how many different tree buds you can spot.

winter tree bud bingo

You can build on this activity by trying this longer-term tree bud observation.

First Day of Spring Sit Spot

The first day of spring is March 20th and it’s the perfect time to (re)establish the routine of visiting a sit spot.  A sit spot is simply a special place in nature where you are comfortable sitting quietly and observing the nature around you.  It should be a spot you can access easily and regularly and have these qualities.  Right in your own backyard is a good place to start.

Once you and your child have found your special sit spots, spend some time just sitting quietly and observing.  Start with at least 5 minutes and slowly increase the time each visit.  If your child is quite young, sit with her.  Ask questions like: What sounds do you hear?   Do you notice any smells?  What’s the weather like?  Is there any animal activity?  What does the ground feel like?  What do you notice about the plants around you?  With practice, your child will become familiar with making these observations for herself.

Make sure that the sit spot is easily identifiable so that your child can return to the same spot each time.  Try to visit the spot once a month.  This will provide your child the opportunity to observe the changes that occur in nature throughout the seasons.  Through this practice, your child will feel a personal connection to the nature all around, will develop a strong sense of place and will have a sense of wonder that will be carried throughout her life.

Follow on Facebook and at Instagram to see what we notice from our sit spots on the first day of spring.

Download this month’s nature prompts here and print and hang them up where you can easily see them.  We post ours on our home-school morning board and review the prompts regularly.

Have fun noticing nature!

Fondly,
Monique