Fall is my favorite time of the year! Ok, well Spring and Fall might actually tie, but right now as a very HOT summer is coming to a close, Fall is my much anticipated event! And with Fall comes the opportunity to include a Fall Nature Study or two into our homeschool day.
Other than the beautiful weather one of the best things about Autumn is the opportunity to get out into nature without hordes of bugs, such as ticks, chiggers and mosquitoes to torment you. And in our neck of the woods we most always have beautiful Fall colors! These gorgeous leaves lend themselves so well to my favorite thing…. Nature Study!!
Now, maybe you’re new at this kind of thing and wondering exactly how to go about it? I’m so glad you asked! Here’s my easiest and best ways to do a Fall Nature Study:
Learn your trees!
This one is so simple, yet you’d be amazed at the people who cannot identify the trees around them. In our yard we have several varieties of Oaks, Maple’s, Walnut, Hickory, Ash, Elm, Locust, Redbud, Sassafras, Dogwood, Pawpaw, Cedar, Pine (yes we do live in the woods!). Now, you may not have as wide a variety in your back yard as we do, but I’m betting you have trees you could learn to identify.
Make leaf collections by gathering leaves and laminating them and placing them in a book with their name labeled on them. Or make leave rubbings by placing plain white paper over the leaf and using a crayon to color the entire thing. You will get the shape and all the veins!
Then learn what your trees are used for today and in the past! Are you aware that they make baskets from oak and basket handles from both oak and hickory? Do you know that hickory nuts are in the same family as pecans and just as delicious? (Though much harder to crack!)
Speaking of that! Have a cooking class and make cookies or nut breads from the nuts you gather (walnut, pecan, or hickory nut are great, but you can also use acorns. They just need a little more preparation). Or you can gather persimmons or Autumn Olive berries and make delicious breads and muffins.
Now is the perfect time for historical research. Research what trees used to grow in your area and what grow now. Why? You could also research timber harvesting practices then and now.
On the topic of trees still, why not learn how to age them? It’s super simple and extremely interesting. Yes, you can age both living trees and stumps. You can count the rings or do a core sample.
Have a day where you study why leaves change color and what purpose the leaves serve in the tree! You’d probably be amazed at the fact that some people think leaves “collect” water for the tree. What do they do instead?
As you can probably see, this is a topic that can go on and on! Use it for art, and draw the trees and leaves. Make sure you label them! Use charcoal pencils or colored pencils.
Read books that talk a lot about trees. A few that come right to my mind is “My Side of the Mountain”, “The Far Side of the Mountain” and “Frightful’s Mountain”.
I hope this has inspired you to make great use of your Fall! Get out there and study nature. Of course there is more to nature study than trees, but I can’t think of a better place to start!
A Big Thank You to Jenny Underwood of Our Inconvenient Family for writing this article