Mrs. Aitch's File Cabinet of Ideas for Nature Study Lessons

Monday, April 7

Six Simple Steps to Seasonal Surprises

Here's a fun and easy project to watch the seasons change in your own neighborhood.  

Take a photo from the same spot in your yard once a week (or once a month).  

1. Look for a spot in your yard where there are trees or a garden.

2. Pick a spot that shows a good view of nature and consider if the background looks nature-y, too (avoid buildings or cars if you can).  

3. On the same day (and time!) every week, stand in that spot with your camera pointed the same direction.

4. Take a picture.   See?  That was SO easy!

5. Note any changes in the trees, flowers, garden, landscape.   Weather conditions like temperature, wind, precipitation--all worth noting, too.  

6. Keep your pictures in one spot, organized chronologically (in order by date), label them, if you can, too.

Hint!   Set a reminder on your phone or calendar.   I try to take my pictures at the same time every week (10:00 a.m. Friday); plus I set a back-up reminder to go off at 2:00 p.m., too, because sometimes I'm running errands in the morning or I get busy and forget.  

Camera:  I use an iPhone but you could also use a digital or SLR camera or even an old Polaroid InstaMatic.

I started out taking pictures and didn't include our little street lamp at the end of our driveway.  But once the leaves were down, the lamp was the really only interesting thing to look at (for a long time).

Upload Options:  I upload my picts to Instagram (Click here to see!) and share from there to my personal Facebook where I have an album titled "My Street - Once a Week".   I use the same hashtags on my Instagram uploads, so I can find them easily.   Once they're loaded into my Facebook album, I edit the description again.

When we started getting snow on the ground, the lamp was kind of a cool "marker" as it really stood out against the white!  AND it had the cutest little "frosting" of snow on top, too!

You'll notice the different "frames" I've used.  That's part of the Instagram app.   I like photos with and without the frames.   If I was to do this all over again, I would probably NOT use any frames at all.   OR always use the same one every time.   Just to be consistent.   :-)
In this photo (above right) you'll notice I fuzzed out the background a bit, to make the lamp-post be the main focus.   That's another little thing in Instagram.   Kind of fun for the photos where the scenery isn't that exciting.  

Now that spring's arrived, this flower bed and the street scene is starting to wake up.   The spring ephemerals are already blooming, and some bulbs that thrive in chilly temps (snowdrop and crocus for example) are already almost done here in the eastern panhandle of West Virginia.  

So, get your camera and get outside and see some nature!

Thursday, August 9

Butterflies - Flying Flowers!

They're everywhere!  They're everywhere! 

Have you noticed them flitting around 
your flower beds and bushes?    
They lightly drop in for a quick sip 
and then OFF they go to the next flower.

So, take a moment to learn the 
different parts of these

"flying flowers" 

(as my mom refers to them!)

Check out my

Saturday, July 14

Summer Project: Bird Feeder

Check out this little chickadee
settling down for a nice summer dinner!

You can make one of these quite easily.


Small screw-eye
Old sodie-pop bottle
Two wooden spoons (or two sticks/dowels)
Wild birdseed
(the birds will come if you build it!)
Snack time for a chickadee!
A couple hours before you want to do this project, 
fill the bottle with water about half-way to the top 
and freeze it solidly.

Now . . . let the FUN begin!

Take a look at the top of the lid - that's a little "screw eye" that's been screwed into the lid and it has some twine threaded through to hang over a tree branch or  hook on your deck.  If it's hard to do, use a power drill with a VERY SMALL bit to get the hole started.  Screw the screw-eye in- feel the power! 
Put a spot of super-glue on metal piece on the inside/outside of the lid  after getting the screw-eye through just so the screw doesn't pull out. 
(Set this aside for now.)

Get the bottle of ice out of the freezer and work quickly now.
On the sides, two wooden spoons poke through
holes on opposite sides of the old plastic sodie-pop bottle.

Take note - in order for the birds to extract the seed, 
fashion the ONE hole big enough on ONE SIDE ONLY 
so the seeds gently dribble out onto the spoon.

Using a sharp knife (be CAREFUL, please!), 
score the plastic to make an X where the 
spoon handle will poke through.  
Re-score until you have hit ice.   
Opposite of this on the other side of the bottle, 
make another LARGER X for the spoon bowl.


Make holes a bit too SMALL so 
the spoon is well-fitted and snugly secured.
(We don't want the birdies to spin the spoon!)
Make sure to put the lower spoon 
as close to the bottom of the bottle
as possible to ensure that the seeds 
at the bottom are accessible, too.

Once you have four holes (2 sets),
let the ice melt OR 
set bottle in a sink full of HOT water.

After the bottle is empty,
gingerly shove the spoon handle through 
the largest hole first
clear through to the smaller other hole 
on the other side.
Repeat with the other spoon.

On the side opposite of the spoon bowl
--where the spoon handle pokes out--
make a very small hole 
(about a half-inch above the opening for the handle).
That hole should be about | | this wide
(really, THAT size)
~ a tiny rectangle ~
so the birds can retrieve the small seeds 
but they won't come pouring out.
Larger seeds (like sunflowers) 
will come out on the other side.


and I mean, not even one drip of water on the inside
(the seed will get moldy and the birds will NOT eat it). 
Then use a funnel to pour in several cups of birdseed.
Screw on the lid and admire your handiwork.

You did it!

Now, clean up your mess, put away the tools and 
hang the feeder in a tree near a window.

. . . . .  < * )  tweet!  ( * >  . . . . .


Wild birdseed is the cheap stuff; 
it's okay to use if you don't have a lot of money to spend.
I buy the more expensive black-oil sunflower seed instead 
to attract CARDINALS and FINCHES.

However chickadees, juncos and sparrows will happily eat the cheaper stuff, (so will cardinals and finches if nothing else is available), so I mix the sunflower seeds with wild birdseed and everyone is happy.

Wednesday, May 30

Time to get your summer in gear!   

Here's an idea, go on a scavenger hunt. 

The best way to do a NATURE STUDY scavenger hunt is with a friend (or a sibling).  Find the items on the list, then have the other person verify that you saw it, mark it off the list, and LEAVE the item in the woods or along the trail.

OR if you're into taking pictures, snap a photo.  When you get home, download!

Then you don't have to bring home a bunch of specimens that would be better left right where you found them! 

Here's a printable scavenger list from the Diva Girl Parties

AND check out this list from The Taylor House blog ~


Or check out this website . . . where I searched for Summer Fun Scavenger Hunts and take your pick!  It's a whole website devoted to Scavenger Hunts!

Wednesday, January 4

Twinkling Stars - More Than "Background"

I really enjoy star-gazing--one thing I can do to imagine what Abraham must've thought when he stood there with God, looking heavenward, imagining the number of his descendants, reeling at the thought of so many who would receive the blessing that he--little ol' Abraham--had been promised!

Check out this link:   The Night Sky 

We've been followers of Classical Astronomy for many years now, and this ministry is one worth supporting.   If you can, please do.   It's worth it--and your children will benefit from knowing just a little bit more about the blessing God gave us when He put the sun, moon, stars and planets in our night sky!

Nature Hike

Take a walk outside your own home. Look around at all the signs of Spring in your own backyard! What do you smell? What do you see? What do you hear? Fresh earth, budding plants and trees, birds chirping? How does the wind feel against your cheek?

Keep your nature journal handy....summer is a busy time in the natural world! Jot the occasion, date, time, weather, and anything unusual. Make a simple sketch to help you remember. Doesn't have to look like da Vinci! Just your sketch.

Take note of a special tree in your yard. Keep track of it during each season. Sketch one or two branches right now. Take note of the buds or twigs. Date the sketch, add the time of day, something about the weather. Yeah! That wasn't so hard!!