Monday, January 18, 2016

2016's First Nature Study

As I was attempting to plan for a good start to our Nature Study outings, I was so glad to have Barb's January Handbook of Nature Study Newsletter in my inbox for inspiration!

I printed off her planning page, skimmed through Comstock's guide, made a few notes about the pine trees in our neighborhood, then was ready to go the following day with the kids in tow.

It was a chilly day, but we enjoyed finding out some interesting things about the Afghan Pines we have planted here (For more info on this pine species, see here and here). They are non-natives, originating from southern Russia, Afghanistan and Pakistan. One of the best desert pines, they thrive in heat and drought. A good thing for our Texas summers!

We used some of the lesson questions in the Handbook of Nature Study itself that Barb highlighted and focused on the tree as a whole, then its smaller parts/characteristics. We did several entries in our Nature Journals, so this has taken place over the past two weeks.

A sampling of our outings and drawings ...

Alice amidst the trees
"The dark foliage outlined against wintry skies appeals to the imagination,
and well it may, for it represents an ancient tree costume.
They stand among us, representatives of an ancient race,
and wrap their green foliage about them as an Indian sachem does his blanket,
in calm disregard of modern fashion of attire."
-HONS, p670

curly bark
two needles per sheath

my entry

a little monkeying around
doing some needle rubbings

their favorite tree

these are the pine cones (female)
these are the pollen cones (male)

a look at our tree sketches

back home to sketch pine cones

"The appearance of the unripe cone is another convincing evidence that mathematics is the basis of the beautiful. The pattern of the overlapping scales is intricate and yet regular - to appreciate it one needs to try to sketch it. Beneath each scale, when it opens wide, we find nestled at its base two little seeds; each provided with a little wing so that it can sail off with the wind to find a place to grow."
-HONS, p672

"The shape of the scales of the cone is another distinguishing characteristic of the pine, 
and sketching the outside of scales from several different species of pine cones will develop the pupils' powers of observation."
-HONS, p672


  1. We have been studying trees too but it has been much too cold to go outside for study, so we have been drawing using images from our tree book as we learn about each tree. I'm hoping for temps to go above freezing soon so we can go on a nature walk. I'm very impressed with your drawings!

    1. Thanks, Lucy :-) I am very impressed that even without venturing outside, you are continuing to pursue nature study! If I don't get outside, it pretty much doesn't happen (except for maybe watching birds).

  2. This is a wonderful study of pine trees and cones! Your photos make it so inviting...wish I could have come along to make some observations and do a journal entry too. I am so glad you could be inspired by the newsletter topic this month and thank you for leaving me a comment so I could come by and visit.

    1. Thanks for visiting, Barb! It would be fun to have a seasoned nature-lover like yourself along to join us :-)
      I appreciate your encouragement and consistent inspiration in your newsletters.