Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Nature Study Update

(NOTE: I am gradually adding photos to this post, but I have to run-- we are picking blackberries with Javamom today!)

I got a big bouquet of flowers from my parents for Mother's Day, and the kids and I examined them the other day while we ate breakfast.

I asked Triss to enlighten us as to the names of the flower parts, as she is the only one in our house who has them memorized. She obligingly pointed and named while we sat and listened. (Note: I realized this morning that it sounds like the next couple of paragraphs are what Triss said to us. They are really just my own further impressions of the flowers. Sorry for any confusion.)

One kind of flower in the bouquet is a composite flower I have never seen before. It looks like a small sunflower, but with such unusually shaped ray flowers! Like little tubes. We dissected one of the ray flowers and found the tiny pistil inside. I have a question: how can the bee get any nectar from such tiny tubelike flowers?

The other prominent flowers in the bouquet are tiger lilies-- just beautiful, and easy to label because the parts are so large and spread out. We shook one of the lilies to watch the anthers dance. (Later on I noticed this became a favorite activity for Cornflower. She was quite distressed when the last tiger lily had to be thrown in the trash.)

I saw that as the lily wilted, the petals opened further and further, while the stamens drew up to form a straight wall around the pistil. Then a day or so later I saw that the stamens had gone back to their position radiating outward. I meant to draw the kids' attention to it, but I forgot. Perhaps I will remember to tell them now that I wrote it in a blog post. ;o)

We pulled apart one of the fat coreopsis receptacles earlier this week and found the seeds. Also three little white worms. Triss put the seeds in a saucer of water and set it on the windowsill to see what would happen. Mariel carried the worms outside on a paper towel. She is our fearless rescuer when it comes to buggy things.

I was beginning to think the coreopsis seed receptacles were not going to open on their own and disperse their seeds, but today we saw two or three that have done just that. We have been spoiled by watching the Moody science videos (they speed up the process so you can see the seeds literally explode out of the pods and receptacles).

And in other news, we have been watching birds. We definitely have regular house finch visitors in our front yard, though we do not know where their nest is.

I have been asking the girls to see if they can spot a scissor-tailed flycatcher as we drive around lately. Today we were at a park, and Cornflower ran up to me and told me she had seen a mockingbird and a scissortailed flycatcher both.

Triss would like to be a barn swallow if she could be a bird, because of the way they swoop and fly.

We went to check on the kids' trees today and they played a long time at the park. Triss found a bug and drew it so we could look it up later. I said I thought it was a leafhopper, but Mariel said it was definitely a stinkbug. I didn't think so, but when we got home and looked, she was right! There was a collection of third graders from a local elementary school enjoying a field trip at the park, and several of the kids came over to see what we were looking at. We got the bug to crawl on one of the kids' hands, and then helped it onto a leaf. Then we got to see how it chose the leaf over the hand every opportunity it got.

That's about all the nature I can remember from the last week or so. Except that Thumper the rabbit will continue her escape attempts into the lusher green grass of the next-door neighbors' backyard. Oh, and she is running for President (in one of Triss' stories). I am not so sure I will vote for her. She worries too much that someone will take her carrots or usurp her portion of the yard to be a good world leader.

I do apologize for the lack of pictures. I had some of the tiger lily and the interesting mystery composite flower, but our camera batteries died before I got the pictures onto the computer. I will put some new batteries in the camera.


JamieLee said...

Sounds like your family had some lovely nature study time. Thanks for sharing!

Melissal89 said...

Great flower study! Your children really know nature, awesome! LOL about the rabbit running for president!


Tim's Mom said...

I tagged you for A Visit to My House!