We are a little late joining in the Outdoor Hour Challenges, but we've been enjoying sporadic nature studies all along. By participating, I hope to be a little more consistent!
We have a young oak in our front yard that was planted by the builder just before we moved in, so we didn't have to look far for a tree to observe. Cullen was excited to find scattered acorns beneath our tree. This is the first year it has dropped any acorns at all, so I was a little excited, too! After identifying the tree online and with our Handbook of Nature Study we discovered that we have a variety of black oak. According to the Handbook, these trees take about 20 years to produce their first crop of acorns, so we also learned the approximate age of our tree.
After observing the bark and the ants crawling up and down, picking off a few leaves, looking at the tiny blotches where the color was beginning to change and gathering some acorns, we came inside to make a page for Cullen's nature notebook. He did a rubbing of a leaf and a drawing of one of the acorns. We also opened up an acorn to see the inside. We'd already read that it likely had a very bitter taste, so Cullen could not be talked into tasting it. Acorns of a black oak are supposed to be tasty to squirrels and deer, so Cullen tossed quite a few far into our wooded back yard where we've seen a few deer and plenty of squirrels. Plus it was just fun to throw them!
By far, the most interesting and surprising thing we learned was that the acorns are velvety smooth, except for a really sharp point at the tip. Cullen rubbed his face with it so much, I think he wore the velvet covering off of this one!
Next, we'll be looking for pine trees and maples. I am loving the time outdoors as much as my little one!