August 26, 2011

Friday Favorites : Mini-Field Trip!


The kids and I went to the park twice this week to play, now that public school is in session and the playgrounds aren't overrun.  Of course, it was such a nice week that there were a number of moms out with little ones in strollers.  I hate to be an equipment-crasher, no matter how well-behaved my kids are.


What to do, what to do?

We decided to take a nature walk along the "creek" instead.


Where there are floating trees.  {grin}

(It's more like a big drainage ditch that runs the whole width of the park.  But I'm not about to go trekking through the woods in search of something more authentic.)

It was so much fun that we went back today.  This time, armed with cameras!
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It turns out there are a number of little ponds that have formed in the creek bed, between dried out spots.  Little enclosed ecosystems you can look down on from the bank.


We saw lots of minnows.  Are minnows really fish, or just overgrown tadpoles?  The boys had a recurring argument discussion about this as we went along.  (I'll have to google it later.)

According to Wikipedia:
"Minnow is a general term used to refer
to small freshwater and saltwater fish...
it refers to small freshwater fish
 of the carp family."

There you go!
Some of those minnows looked big enough to catch with a hook!

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We also spotted a water snake, hanging out near the edge.  Until he caught our scents.
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Photo from National Geographic.

In one little puddle-let we saw a little creature all curled up on himself.  I thought it was a snake, but the kids got out the nature guides when we got home to prove me wrong.  They concluded that it was a mudpuppy or similar type of salamander.

 (Not my picture, of course, since silly me didn't foresee the possibility that we would be in need of photographic evidence of the critters at the pond in order to categorize them properly.  I only expected some tadpoles.)

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We saw several butterflies which are yet to be identified.


We also hit the library on day two, and all anyone wanted to do when we got home was dig into their new books.  (And eat lunch, of course!)


(This one, my 10yo informs me, is a buckeye.)



Mr. Monarch hung around for a while too.

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On day two, we spotted another water snake, this time in action.  It was swimming into the school of (pretty large) minnows, and caught one!  Very exciting!  He shook it around and then swam back into his home.  We waited a while, but he didn't come back out.

(And of course, I didn't catch him on film.  Although, I did keep my 4yo from ending up in the water with the snake, so I'll call that a victory.)

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photo credit

Later, (meaning: after I had put the camera away) we spotted a woodpecker who looked a lot like this.

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The kids loved it.  Especially the part where we had to climb down into the creek bed and back up the other side.  Boys love their adventures!


Mom, on the other hand, was just glad we didn't meet up with any creepy-crawlies while we were crossing over.

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So what did we learn about on our little adventure?
food chains
snakes
fish
water currents
weird little green tennis-ball-like fruits
tetanus shots
obedience
(as in, No, you cannot pet the snake!)
enclosed ecosystems
life and death in the animal kingdom
patience
weather
attention to detail
teamwork
salamanders
thankfulness
(as in, We're thankful we're not strapped down to a book right now.)

Really, who knows all that they'll take away from this experience?  Maybe in a month, or a year, or when they're 46, they'll remember walking along the bank, feeling the warmth of the sun and the sweetness of the summer breeze, and remember the thrill of watching that snake attack the minnow, and the longing to stay just a little longer, please.

I love books, but hands-on experience is also a very good thing.

All in all, another successful and fun episode of homeschooling!


Linking up with Rachel at Finding Joy for Friday Favorites


friday favorite things | finding joy

2 comments:

  1. What a great adventure! So good to see moms getting their kids out. I'm sure they'll treasure those memories forever.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Ah, I love exploring nature! Nice photos too. It is especially fun to look at it in detail and wonder how oh how God created something so detailed.

    Have a lovely weekend!

    ReplyDelete

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