Monday 2 October 2017

September Nature Studies

If you have read about our homeschool curriculum or follow my instagram account, you will know we are following a nature curriculum this year called 'Exploring Nature With Children'. It is a wonderful curriculum that covers different topics each week of the year. For each week, there are activities to do, recommended reading, poetry and a piece of art to study. The curriculum incorporates science, English, art and nature studies so it is really varied. You can check out the curriculum here.

I have decided to do a round up article of our previous month's nature studies each month. Here I will tell you what we got up to in September, week by week.

Week 1 - Seeds

Our first week saw us learning all about seeds and seed dispersal. We started off by looking at the seeds in the food we eat.

I cut up some vegetables and laid them out so the children could take a look. We talked about what the seeds were like in each piece of fruit and vegetable. Then the children had a go at drawing the fruits and seeds with some chalk pastels.

We go on nature walks each week and see how the environment is changing. This week our mission was to collect seeds to study at home. We managed to find lots of different seeds which we sorted into different compartments in ice cube trays. We talked about the similarities and differences between them and then stuck them to some sheets of paper to make a display.

We learnt about the different methods of seed dispersal and how this is important so that the seeds get as far away as possible from the parent plant. Here are the  diffferent methods:

  • plant itself
  • animals
  • water
  • wind

We looked at how each of the seeds we had collected was adapted differently for different methods of seed dispersal. The children were particularly interested with the way seed heads can disperse seeds themselves. We watched some YouTube videos of seed heads exploding which the children loved. I found it fascinating too!

Week 2 - Minibeasts

The second week of September was minibeast week. We went into the garden to see what minibeasts we could discover. We found worms, snails, woodlice and centipedes! Then we discussed the different types of minibeasts and their characteristics. Here are the different types:

  • Annelids
  • Insects
  • Arachnids
  • Isopods
  • Myriapods

Wherever we went this week we kept an eye out for minibeats. We found some ladybird larvae on some railings. It was the first time I have ever seen them. It was fascinating!

These are some of the books we used this week to learn about minibeasts. 'Mad About Minibeasts' inspired us to make some minibeasts out of play dough!

We always make our own play dough. It is so easy, safe for the children and feels nicer to work with. The children love to help me make it. We made play dough in a variety of colours and then the children had great fun making their favourite minibeasts.

We also used clay to make models of minibeasts. Here are the children's creations.

Week 3 - Autumn Equinox

This week we learnt about the Autumn Equinox. I explained to the children how the seasons change. The seasons change because of the tilt of the Earth's axis. The orientation of the tilt causes us to be orientated toward the Sun for half the year and away from the Sun for half the year. When we are orientated toward the Sun it is summer and when we are orientated away from the Sun it is winter. In between, we get the seasons of autumn and spring as the Earth's tilt is moving us either toward or away from the Sun.

We spent a lot of time this week going on nature walks and finding treasures to add to our nature tray.

We also spent time outdoors thinking of ways we could make natural materials into games. We played noughts and crosses using sticks for the grid and leaves for the noughts and crosses. This was a lot of fun.

Nature also came indoors for some maths practise this week. I set up some equations for my son using acorns and play dough. He had a lot of fun working out the equations and rolling out play dough the make the numbers for each answer.

Week 4 - Autumn Pond Study

The final week of September was autumn pond study week. We headed to a local pond to see how the pond had changed since we had last been there in the summertime. I think this may have been my first trip to the pond in autumn and it was interesting to see how different it was from the spring and summertime.  

It was a lot more overgrown than at other times of the year. Tall grass covered large parts of the pond.

We did not spot any frogs but found a number of dragonfly larvae. We also found water snails and one or two pond skaters. I was really surprised at the amount of dragonflies flying around the pond. I don't think I have ever seen so many! One of the boys discovered an injured dragonfly and held it gently while the other children took a look.                                                                                                                                                    
We spent some time later in the week learning about bird migration. We used the book 'Looking at Nature' by Elsie Proctor to find out which birds migrate to England during the autumn and which birds leave England for hotter climates. 

This gave us a chance to talk about geography too. We looked up England on the map as well as the countries birds come to us from (such as Sweden and Norway) and which countries English birds migrate to (such as South Africa).

The children then wrote stories about migrating birds. They both wrote stories about birds migrating from England to Africa.

Finally, we painted some pictures of the birds which migrate to England during the autumn. Again, we used Proctor's book as a reference. 

We have all thoroughly enjoyed our first month using 'Exploring Nature With Children' and look forward to the topics we will be covering in October. To take a look at the curriculum you can use the links below.

Have you been following this curriculum? What activities did you do during September?                                                

Additional Articles of Interest


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