Before I launch into my owl notes, I first wanted to address a more general nature study question. I was recently asked how I go about choosing our nature study subjects - specifically, if am I following a timetable listed in a book or a type of science curriculum. Although I do have countless nature-related resources in my posession, I don't follow any one text to a "T." What I do, generally speaking, is to follow the seasons, because it's so easy to learn when you're excited about the natural year.
I also plan studies around our Homeschool Nature Club schedule, which is one of our favorite monthly activities. So, for instance, in March our group will be visiting a maple farm and we'll learn all about maple sugaring. (So I can't help but think: trees and their gifts, local farms, evaporation, leaf buds ...) In April we'll be spending a night watching for salamanders (amphibians, night noises, the spring woods, vernal pools). In May we're going to learn about New England geology (rock collecting, dirt samples, erosion, stone walls) and in June we'll visit flower gardens (seeds, flower parts, gardening, pollination).
As you can see, this schedule gives me a whole bunch of great themes around which to plan our ongoing nature study!
Since our current study focus is owls (see our owl pellet post here
), I've made lots of notes on owl-related learning activities. I'd like to share them with you all today. (Activities mentioned in blue font
are the ones geared toward my littlest learner, Earlybird.)
*v*First of all, as with anything we do, there are always books - lots and lots of books! Some we own, but many more we borrow from the library. I am already hunting down maple-related resources for next month. I display them in our learning room, and a select few will be featured along the top of the nature shelf. Please see my sidebar book list at left for owl titles.
*v*Earlybird enjoys playing with puppets and it just so happens we have two owl puppets in our basket - a big hand puppet and a small finger puppet. I'll make up a few simple stories for "the owls" to "tell," possibly in conjunction with a few other critters. For example, the mouse puppet could make a narrow escape, and the crow puppet could abandon its nest to the mother owl. I try to take actual facts and weave them into the stories.
*v*Another thing I like to do with Earlybird is act out the animal itself. What does the owl say? Can you hoot like an owl? Can we pretend to be owls, flying silently through the night sky?
*v*Along the same lines, we might make up "an owl nest" using blankets and pillows. Since owls nest in tree cavities, I will probably clear out the cupboard beneath the china closet and let EB pretend to be an owl in his nest. I might even encourage him to go "hunt" for prey - small puppets hidden around the house (you could use pictures if you don't have puppets) - to bring back to his "nest."
We could listen to and learn an owl poem
. A famous one, of course, is "The Owl and The Pussycat." (We have the Jan Brett version
somewhere around here ...)
*v*A short simple handmade book about owls can be assembled - with construction paper pages, possibly stored inside a sturdy binder. The pages will hold pictures (colored, drawn or printed out) and owl terms: eyes, ears, feathers, claws, beak, hoot, nest.
*v*We've long subscribed to a wonderful nature magazine, My Big Backyard, and we have serveral years' worth of back issues on our bookshelf. The inside back cover always has a colorful fact page about something "in season." The January 2006 page is all about the Great Horned Owl. I will color-copy the page and hang it as a focal point on our nature board.*v*
The boys can color realistic owl illustrations such as the ones found in the Dover coloring books: A Walk in the Woods
and Birds of Prey
. I brought home simpler line drawings
for EB to color from the owl pellet class last week.
Speaking of owl pellets - you could order a kit online
and do an owl pellet dissection at home. We placed the baggies of bones the boys brought home from their class on top of the nature shelf for now.
We will use our Birdsong Identiflyer
to listen to various owl calls
. The Raptor
card features several owls, including the Barred Owl who paid us a visit the other night
. If you don't have an Identiflyer, you can find owl calls readily online
. Once the weather warms a bit, and we can open our windows in the evenings, we'll start listening for night sounds in the woods - like spring peepers and possibly, owls.
*v*On a mild day we will take a walk in our woods to look for potential owl nests. Clues would be large cavities and owl pellets on the ground near the base of a tree.
I'm going to pick up a package of feathers at the craft store and make an owl mask
with EB. This would have been fun to do today as it is Mardi Gras! I've also bookmarked a couple of cute owl crafts
at The Crafty Crow
The boys can read about owls in folklore and mythology.
There is also lots of amazing information here.
I'll also ask the older boys to write a short report about an owl species of their choice. For reference, they can use the books we have on hand and/or the information we find online.
I've asked Bill to make a log-sided owl house
with the boys. The plans can be found in The Curious Naturalist
. We'll set it up at the edge of the woods out back.
For a family movie night, we'll watch Hoot
, which is about burrowing owls in the Florida everglades. (It was also a great book
!) Two other videos I have on request at the library:
Just for fun, one afternoon I'll put together a little Owl Tea
with woodland themed treats such as the Owl Pellet cookies
I found in Small Wonders
Mix together 2 cups white flour and 2 cups chopped pecans. Set aside. Cream 1 cup butter. Add 1/2 cup sugar. Mix in 1 teaspoon vanilla and 1 tablespoon water. Gradually add flour/nut mixture to batter. With lightly floured hands, shape dough into small "owl pellet" shapes. Bake at 325 F. for 25-30 minutes. If you like, while still warm, roll cookies in sugar (white or confectioner's).
And goodness me, but I think that's all I can think of - for now! Lots of ideas here - not all will get done of course - but we'll have fun in whatever we do. And in a few weeks we'll know a lot more about owls than we do now!
I'm always on the lookout for more ideas, though ~ so if you have any owl study suggestions - you know I'm all ears! :)
Thanks for stopping by today ~ Have a great evening, my friends!