We love science in our family, especially science that involves nature and animals. We are so blessed to have a pond on our property; over the years we have seen so much wildlife. It was only natural that when we began our homeschooling adventure that we would involve the pond in our studies. The wonderful thing about pond life exploration is that it encompasses more than just science; it can involve art, music, math, geography, history, and language arts. Here are some sample activities we use to help guide you on to your own pond life exploration and adventure.
I am certain that you can easily make pond exploration fit into your science curriculum. For example; the life on the pond starts to become evident as soon as the ice begins to melt. Our first visitors to show up are typically ducks. We have had several types of ducks visit (my husband is a great help when it comes to identifying the different types of ducks), so if you don’t have a resourceful duck person handy be sure to check out a bird book from the library to help you with identification. We do this for other birds, reptiles, amphibians and insects we see at the pond as well. (So far we have seen a Bald Eagle, an Egret, Canada Geese, Wood Duck, Mallard Duck, Teal Duck, Snapping Turtles, Dragonflies, and several other small birds.)
If you can witness the life cycle of a specific species that is super awesome, otherwise seeing the adult can begin the discussion of a life cycle. As far as pond life, many people immediately think of the life cycle of a frog. Interestingly enough, we hear bullfrogs and spring peepers all spring and summer, yet we have never seen frog eggs or tadpoles! We have however seen a Canada Geese Chicks and watched them grow alongside their mom and dad. What a treat it was to see them, we took the time to learn about what we could put out for them to eat. One night we put some scrap vegetables and the next morning I was able to capture a picture of one adult goose with the babies.
Activity–Drawing, Painting, Sketching
Grab a sketch book, a clipboard, or some plain paper and something to draw with, find a nice place to sit and draw the beauty of nature. Don’t forget to include the plants and trees!! Scenery art is just as beautiful and fun to draw.
Activity–Songs and Sounds
One of my favorite things to do while sitting outside it to just sit and listen to the sounds around us. My daughter and I have a fun time listening to the birds and naming the bird according to its call. Searching Youtube for bird calls is a great way to start learning and identifying bird calls. With little ones it can be fun to sing familiar children songs such as Five Little Ducks and Five Green and Speckled Frogs.
This is pretty open ended and you there are a variety of things you could graph about. For example: Since we live in the Northeast, the pond will ice over. Once the weather gets warmer and we begin to see the sign of water it becomes a game to guess when the pond will be ice free! You can choose to graph this by specific date or just the number of days ice remains on the pond. Another example is on a specific day graphing the number of specific things you see (birds, ducks, frogs, turtles and so on).
Activity–Drawing a Map
My daughter has begun to be very interested in map drawing, so what better way to capitalize on this interest than drawing a map of the pond and surrounding areas. Depending on the age of your child, the degree of detail will vary but I think it is a nice way to see through their eyes what landmarks and features stand out to them.
One thing we have found out about the pond on our property is how it came to be, this came about through some great conversations with our neighbors. We learned about how the area once was a marshy bog like area, until one neighbor brought in a beaver. This beaver created a dam that caused the water level to rise and make a large pond. We have also learned that this pond has also become a love for some and a nuisance for others. Through efforts with state biologist the pond remains (yay!!) and the water level is kept in check to make sure that it doesn’t cause damage to the homes.
Activity–Books about ponds/pond life
There are an abundance of books available for all ages. You may choose to get books that are common songs/fingerplays such as Five Little Ducks or choose specific topics such as the life cycle of a frog. We have a few favorite books about pond life that we read and they are the following: Pond Babies by Cathryn Falwell; Turtle Splash: Countdown by the Pond by Cathryn Falwell; and Little Beaver and the Echo by Amy MacDonald.
Books are a great way to introduce new vocabulary and information about specific topics.
We hope you will find a pond abundant with life to enjoy and add some fun activities/lessons to your homeschool day!!
A big thank you to Yvonne B. of The Life We Build for writing this article.