The fall weather here has been wonderful – perfect weather for a getting outside for a nature study. Luckily, my 2nd grade son’s botany unit in his Nancy Larson Science study just started, so we have been studying plants indoors and out.
We started by taking a look at one of our house plants and naming all the parts my son had just read about. After identifying the parts, my son sketched and labeled the plant on paper for his science binder. (I love keeping a science binder with our Nancy Larson Science study.)
The next phase of our plant study took us outdoors to study the largest plant in our habitat, trees. My son made some bark rubbings and collected leaves. For the first time, he noticed that the bark is so different from tree to tree. Some trees have thin, smooth bark with just a few rough spots. Other trees have thick, deep, furrowed bark. We added the rubbings to the science binder, as well.
When we collected leaves, we tried to get green leaves and leaves that were turning color from the same tree so we could compare them. My son noticed how different tree leaves where turning different colors. That led to an interesting conversation about pigments with my 6th grade daughter.
She explained to him how chlorophyll makes the leaves green in the spring and summer, but in the fall, the lack of sunlight and colder temperatures cause the chlorophyll levels to drop. When the chlorophyll fades, the other pigments (red, orange, yellow, etc.) that where there all along, but hidden by the chlorophyll, start to show. (Try this leaf chromatography experiment to learn more about the pigments in leaves.)
All the beautiful colors of the leaves inspired both kids to do an art project. First, they drew brown tree trunks and then added some leaves in various colors found in nature. What a great way to wrap up our tree study!
This fall tree study has been a great hands-on experience. If your kids are hands-on, tactile learners, check out Tactile Tuesday at Educating Laytons for more inspiration.