Wednesday, March 30

Tree Study - Maples

We began our year-long tree study this week.  Last year, we study the Cherry tree out front, watching it change through all the seasons.  This year, we chose the Red Maple in the backyard.  This tree is so important to Froggy and such a critical part of her nature landscape that it seemed the obvious choice.  This tree is the majestic king of the yard, gracefully surveying all who enter. Froggy's baby swing hangs from it and if we were staying in this house long term it would eventually be replaced by her tire swing.  In summer we set our hammock in its shade. 

Since we are using a maple for our year-long focus, I combined two challenges into one and did the Maple Sugaring study as well.  I am refering constantly to The Handbook of Nature Study by Anna Comstock for our studies at this point.  The Handbook of Nature Study Spring Challenges give a short overview and can be done without really refering to the book and that is what I had been doing.  But I get so much more out of the studies if I do the indoor prepatory work of reading the specific pages in the book beforehand. I take notes and make a one page "cheat sheet" which I then take outside with Froggy and our Nature Journals. 
First we studied our maple outside.  I showed Froggy the different parts of the tree giving her the proper name for each part. We look at the sprays.  It was fun to see how different the bud development was in different sprays.  One whole section of the tree still looks like the dead of winter while the other side has blossoms developing
 
 We sketched the tree in our journals and I labeled my parts.

Then we came indoors to learn about Sugar Maples and sugaring.  It was the perfect time since we had a sugar snow this week. I pulled out our copy of Little House in the Big Woods and we reread the chapter on Sugar Snow.

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