Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Our Favorite Trees

As I mentioned last week, my family and I have a big move ahead of us and we are getting a bit sentimental about leaving this area.  While we are very excited about the opportunity to move west, it is a bit bittersweet as big moves tend to be.  We've made some amazing friends, especially over the last couple of years as our girls have entered school.  We also have an idyllic piece of property - one in which we feel completely comfortable letting the kids and dog roam and explore the many natural treasures found on it.  (Okay, so sometimes I'm not so happy with the "treasures" that the dog finds...)

This past weekend, my husband had the idea of documenting our favorite trees on the property.  So, Sunday afternoon we went on a ramble and each of us picked out favorite tree and took pictures with it.  We also had to share why it was our favorite tree - I thought the girls' answers would be a fun thing to look back on in the future.  As this blog is as much a place for me to document some of our family's activities as well as a place to share fun science things to do, I thought I would share.

If you want to do this, its helpful to have a way to identify the trees.  There are several good pocket guides (I like any of the Peterson ones) as well as apps (such as from the National Audubon Society).  I had a few other resources listed in our seed hunt activity from last fall and recently found the Tree Leaf Key from which does a pretty good job describing the characteristics of the different leaves.  Another thing you can do is visit a local arboretum, park or college campus that has identified and labelled many of the trees for you.  It would be great fun to document your child in front of their favorite tree each year to see how each has grown over the years.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Weathering and Erosion with Found Rocks

Yoohoo?  Hello?

Hi.  It's me again.

School is back in session, the leaves are turning color and I have a huge variety of science activities rolling around in my brain that I am ready to share!  Sorry for the prolonged absence... this summer became more than a bit crazy for our family.  

In June, we were strongly considering putting our house on the market and started to do some of those little projects that have been hanging around for a little (long) while.  In July, my husband quit his job to pursue an exciting start-up company so then we really did have to put our house on the market.  (Which is not an easy feat with three young kids - thank you, thank you to my family and friends that helped us out so much!)  We got the house on the market in early August, sold it in early September, and are closing this week.  We make our official move in early November.  Oh, and did I mention this is not a small move... we are moving to California!  I think that phrase, "Life is a moving target", was invented for me this past summer!

Anyway, this activity evolved while we were in California looking for a new community in which to call home.  (We are moving to the San Diego area.)  We stayed for a week in two different locales and spent time each day exploring the area's offerings, from parks to restaurants.  And, of course we spent one day at the beach!  My little rock hunters continued their collecting ways and found a couple of rocks at the beach as well as a few at some of the more mountainous hikes that we took.  I was struck in the very clear difference due to weathering between the rocks and allowed the girls to take them home so we could do an activity with them.

Note: And, yes, I do believe in the idea of Leave Only Footprints - and got lectures by both my hubby and best friend when I let the girls take their rocks home.  I hereby promise to return the rocks to their rightful homes once we move.  (Happy, M & H?)

Materials Needed:

  • Collected rocks from "beach-type" and "mountain-type" locations
  • magnifying glasses
  • sandpaper
  • science journals