We have shared often about how nature study is a great way to make science real and practical. In our homeschool, we lean towards doing impromptu nature study while we are already enjoying the outdoors. But as the weather turns colder should you bother with continuing to do nature study?
This month, I thought we'd share three subjects that make us bundle up and brave the temps for winter nature study!
Of course, taking a look at the evergreen plants in your backyard is an excellent winter nature study idea, but I want to highlight three more winter nature study subjects.
Often it is cold enough in the winter for the water outdoors to freeze, which means you have plenty of ice to study! You can look at when the ice freezes and how the ice appears to take up more room than the water did.
You can look at the destructive power of ice by watching the freeze-thaw cycle in action. You can see how salt affects the ice. As the winter comes to a close, you can examine how quickly the ice melts and where all that water goes.
You have to deal with the freezing temps to study ice, but it is worth see the solid state of water up close and personal.
Lichen is amazing example of a living biological partnership between a fungus and a bacteria. The fungus protects the bacteria underneath and the bacteria provides the fungus with the food it needs to grow.
With most of the foliage gone it is much easier to find patches of lichens on the tree trunks. Most of these patches are crustose lichen, but you may find some foliose lichen as well.
You can also examine fallen branches on the forest floor as well as rocks. Both of these usually contain one or more of the three different types of lichens.
With no flowers and few leaves to study in the winter, rocks make a perfect winter nature study subject. You can hunt for the three major types of rock in your backyard.
You can compare the different colors and discuss the minerals that in the rocks that produced the color. For example, copper in a rock might cause it to have a blue or green hue. Iron can cause a dark red or brown tint, while manganese can cause the rock to be pinkish.
However you choose to study rocks, they are plentiful and accessible during the winter months.
Winter is still a great time to get outdoors and find science in action! You can avoid the bugs and crowds as you learn about science. So, be one of the few who hits the trails this winter to soak up the ice, rocks, and lichens.
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