Older Brother and I just finished reading this awesome book, The Flower Hunter, about William Bartram, America’s first naturalist. His father, John Bartram, was America’s first botanist. So, so fun to read about their explorations as they studied and gathered plants.
As a botanist, John Bartram taught his son William to observe nature closely and make accurate sketches of what he found. Not only is The Flower Hunter a fascinating biography, I was hoping Older Brother would be affirmed and inspired in his own Nature Journal efforts.
[NOTE: The Bartrams lived on the Schuylkill River, right outside Philadelphia. I was curious to know if any of their property had been preserved or if there were any local tributes to this family. Naturally, I was thrilled to discover Bartram's Garden, National Historic Landmark House & Garden, located just 15 minutes from center city Philly. According to the website, the rare Franklinia tree--discovered by John and William Bartram and named for their good friend Benjamin Franklin--blooms in August/September. I believe a field trip may be in order for my Yankee Homestead family...]
We finished the book on Sunday. Monday morning, Older Brother returned from collecting the eggs having gathered several samples of a winter weed near the chicken coop. He wanted to draw them on his Nature Calendar. Next, he announced that although it was quite chilly outside, it was very sunny and would be an excellent day for a walk on the nearby W&OD Trail.
He didn’t have to ask me twice! After our morning chores and abbreviated lessons, we bundled up and set off for the trail. I must say, the whole experience was an encouragement to this homeschooling mama. On top of the fact that we enjoyed an excellent book together, which strengthened Older Brother in his own schooling efforts, his desire to head outdoors on a cold day (when he’d been fighting a cold and wasn’t feeling his best) fortified my own resolve as a Charlotte-Mason-Nature-Study enthusiast.
Winter Nature Walk
It was chilly, but the sun and lack of wind made it tolerable. The exercise and fresh air came as a welcome change to our typical mid-February indoor activities.
Here’s what we spotted:
- Cows and horses sporting their shaggy winter coats–Little Brother got a kick out of asking them How now brown cow? but was a bit sad that “They not make any soundses!” So he supplied the “soundses” by mooing at them.
- Canadian geese, who made lots of soundses–honking galore
- Ferns–still green!
- Clear, blue sky with a few wispy, cirrus clouds
- Many winter weeds
- Sticks–or “firewood”, according to Little Brother
- A dog on a walk with his owner
Fun Things to Do
- We had several races, in which Little Brother “beat us to the rotten egg.”
- Older Brother climbed several tall banks by grasping onto tree roots. There was lots of panting and strategizing involved.
- There was also a short session of hockey-golf, utilizing sticks and rocks and In Which Mama’s Ankle Sustained A Blow.
It was a fantastic outing, on several levels. Days like this keep me going–as a mom, homeschooler, nature fanatic and resident of the Northeast, where winters are long and gray.
More Resources for Winter & Nature for Kids:
- Happy Winter: this year’s favorite winter book
- Our Favorite Winter Poem
- Favorite Winter Books for Children
- Exploring Nature with Kids: Winter Nature Walk
- Free nature journal resources for kids
- Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children From Nature-Deficit Disorder
- Exploring Nature With Kids: The Nature Display
- On-the-Go Nature Guides for Kids
- Claude Moore Park in Sterling, VA (plus naturalist-recommended wildflower guides)
- Chapman DeMary Trail in Purcellville, VA (and a few of our favorite nature gear items for kids)