We’re kicking off a three day series on seeds. My kids are fascinated by them, whether it’s seed packets for planting in the spring or seeds on the ground in the fall. How many of your kids have come home from a trip in the woods with pockets full of nuts and seeds? See what I mean? Kids are drawn to them. What a great opportunity to teach them about nature and the life cycle!
My seven year old son and I took advantage of a warm fall day and hit the trails looking for seeds and leaves. We founds lots of different types of oak leaves on the ground, so we started looking for acorns. We found some and examined them – and of course, my son put them in his pocket. This lead us to do some acorn research.
What is an acorn?
Acorns are seeds of oak trees. There are over 600 species of oak trees world wide and each grows from a little tough shelled acorn with a rough cap that attaches it to the tree. Each oak tree species produces a unique acorn. If you are very good, you can determine the species of oak tree just by looking at the acorn.
Who plants acorns?
Lots of people think that acorns are planted by squirrels. Squirrels do bury acorns in the fall as part of their winter storage of food, but very few of those acorns grow into trees. Most acorns are “planted” by the trees themselves. The leaf litter that collects on the ground in the fall is enough protection for the acorns so they can sprout.
We found this acorn in the leaf litter. It had already begun to sprout. Won’t such a vulnerable little thing freeze and die in the fast approaching winter? Did it get too warm and get “tricked” into sprouting early?
Actually, fall sprouting is normal for the white oak acorns. They start to root into the ground as soon as they fall from the tree. Then, in the spring they send up their leaf shoot.
The red oak acorns wait until spring to sprout. They need the winter cold to prepare the seed.
Next time you and the kids are collecting acorns, take a field guide and try and identify which oak tree they came from.
Did your kids bring home the acorn mother-lode? Collect them all and put them into a jar and have the kids estimate how many are in the jar.
Feeling crafty? Check out The Homeschool Scientist’s Nature Crafts Pinterest board. I just started it and will be adding more to it. If you like nature crafts, you’ll want to follow!
Here’s a cute acorn lesson plan for pre-schoolers from www.first-school.ws.
Print out these acorn coloring pages and writing worksheets.