Friday, May 13, 2011

May 12, 2011 Kids & Woods, A Natural Fit

Kids in a private woods east of Goshen, Indiana
West-facing slope full of Large-Flowered Trillium
  On Thursday afternoons in May a home school parent and I accompany  a group of four to six children, who are part of a home school cooperative, to a variety of natural areas.  May 5 we were at ACRES Spurgeon woodland.  (See May 5 post).  Today (May 12) we are in a private woods east of Goshen, Indiana. (Noe:In addition to the many public nature preserves and parks in Michiana, there are private landowners who maintain fine natural areas.) We begin with a quick tour of the woods and then each child chooses a focus of study for the next 45 minutes - one child chooses to make a comprehensive list of the plants in flower and the other three choose to draw specific wildflowers.

Drawing May-Apple plants and flowers
Drawing of May-Apple
Lifting up the "pulpit" to show "Jack"
Close-up of Jack-in-the-Pulpit
Drawing of Jack-in-the-Pulpit

The children recognize most of the spring wildflowers.  Some flowers, e.g., Spring Beauty and False Rue Anemone, have been blooming for more than a month.  Some, e.g. Solomon's Seal, have just come into flower in the past week.
Spring Beauty has been in bloom for over a month
False Rue Anemone is another long bloomer
Solomon's Seal has just begun blooming
This woods has not been heavily logged or grazed, so relatively few non-native plants have invaded.  An exception is Garlic Mustard, which the children pulled when they found it.
The girls with invasive Garlic Mustard they pulled
Some plants, e.g. Hepatica and Bloodroot, are past flowering and others e.g. Jewelweed and Lyon's Foot, will bloom later in the summer.
Leaves, left to right, of Jewelweed, Bloodroot and Hepatica
Lyons Foot won't bloom until late summer
The children focused well on the plants, but they were also alert to the other treasures of the woods
Young Turtle
Below is the list (edited for spelling) the children made of the plants and animals they saw.

Red Bud
White Trillium
Spring Beauty
Spurred Violet
Hepatica (leaves)
Dwarf Ginseng
Solomon's Seal
False Rue Anemone
Rue Anemone
Wild Leek (leaves)
Trout Lily (in fruit)
Bloodroot (leaves)

Baby Painted Turtle 
Tree Frog
Wood Frog

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