Thursday, August 4, 2011

A walk in the wetlands.

Last week it was my turn to lead our nature walk.  My focus has been the wetlands/vleis and rivers in our area.  I've taken you to this wetland recently with my own children, now you can come along with our Nature Club friends too!

The last time I led Nature Club it was a rainy day.  So we had to apply "rainy day procedure", where the mom who is leading for the week, has a back up plan for activities to do at home.
I had focused on the water cycle (after all it was rain that was causing us to be indoors).
We did a few simple experiments to learn about the water cycle.  We also made our very simple rain gauge that week which we have been using to measure the very little rain fall we've been having this winter!

My aims when I go on a nature walk with my children are:
  • to notice any changes since our last visit to the area
  • point out any new nature finds like flowers that are blooming, birds, insects and animals ( I don't always know their names so this is where the other moms and field guides come in handy)
  • remind them of old "friends" they made on previous visits (this gives me a chance to see if they are remembering any nature finds we had previously)
  • sometimes I choose one focus point or mini-lesson to teach before hand-but I like to keep these as short as possible and as relevant to the kids as I can.  
  • and most importantly: run around, play, jump and squeal in delight to be outdoors!

Because we were visiting the wetland and I had previously talked about the water cycle I wanted to continue on the same theme of water and how it always travels down hill till it arrives at the lowest possible point, the sea, dam or wetland.

We learnt that where the water gathers together like this it is called a pan.
And then we spent some time playing at the man made overflow pipes which helped us to discover that the water was moving out of this pan and into the next.

We discussed what they saw on top of the water and what they thought they would find underneath the surface?

Then they had fun filling bags with water to see what colour the water was.
We chatted about what could make the water this colour? 
I just love to hear their ideas.  
(Rocks, sand, dirty mountain water and algae!)
I love seeing how their little brains tick over and just how much of the world around them they already understand.

We smelt, felt and discussed the sounds water makes-a lovely opportunity to extend vocabulary while learning through the five senses.  Finally we chatted about why it wouldn't be a good idea to taste it!
And no, it wasn't because smelly feet were in it ;-)
Sadly, these waters can get a little polluted with litter and animals and birds use it for bathing, amongst other things.

And then we went on to explore some more......

just where does all this water go to in the end?

We entered into territory previously unexplored and discovered these.....

sand dunes!  

What fun!!!  It was time for the run, jump and squeal with delight part of our nature walk.  
Lessons over, or rather lessons postponed till next time ;-)

 A quick pose beside the waters before heading on back to our picnic spot.

As we were discussing that water is always moving downhill I had asked the moms to bring corks with so that we could make very simple cork boats.
Initially when we arrived back at our picnic spot I thought that I wouldn't disturb the playful games the children had started.....

but soon someone asked for the corks and instead of me teaching them how to make boats it became a combined effort of ideas.
Let's cut it in half!
What will we use for a sail?
There are no more toothpicks what can we use now? Thorns!
These kids are creative I tell you!

Watching them float down the river brought great delight to all!
Isn't she a cutie pie?!?

And to end it all off we read a story about the journey of a brook.

This book is one from the science reader series I mentioned before.  Natural science in a story form.

A morning filled with fun, relaxed learning and friends-just the way we like it!

And when they got home what did they do?

Created their own rivers of course, down the gentle slope of our garden.

I think she understood the concept.
Nothing teaches them better than nature and living books!

This post features on the South African Carnival of Homeschool Bloggers where South African home schoolers share experiences, ideas, philosophies and much more.  You can join the carnival too by heading to the South African Carnival of Homeschool Bloggers sign up page.   In the meantime, head to SACH for this week's carnival.  We hope you enjoy the carnival as much as we have!