Autumn Tree Study

Over the month of October, we worked through our Handbook of Nature Study and Outdoor Hour Challenge to study one of the most beautiful things about fall – trees!

It’s no secret that the changing of leaves in Ontario are some of the most brilliant. With just the right combination of weather this year, we’ve had a good number of weeks of enjoying the leaves changing ON the trees – in the past they’ve changed quickly and dropped because of bad weather, but this year they remained for a long time. This gave us plenty of opportunity to study the trees, learn the parts of the leaf and trunk, AND discover a lot of different kinds of maple trees in our neighborhood!

We did multiple leaf walks, collecting as many different kinds of leaves that we could, and using our stellar online research skills to determine what type of tree they came from.

We studied the bark of the trees, noticing that some trees have smooth, others rough, ridged bark.

The outer layer is so important to protect, because just underneath it is where the sap runs nutrients up from the roots to the leaves and back down again. The boys used to break branches and pieces of bark off trees before they learned this, so we’re working on becoming better stewards of God’s creation now!

We also measured and compared the sizes of different tree trunks.

One of my goals was to get my hands on contact paper and press the leaves into each of their journals. Who knew you can’t get contact paper in Canada?! Boo :0( But my friend Jolanthe came up with a GREAT idea – laminate the page! I wish I had thought of that before our leaves curled up and dried out. Next year!

We learned how to do leaf rubbings – it’s more complicated than it looks! Just the right amount of pressure on the crayon and the right direction and it turns out beautifully! Some of the leaf rubbings we cut out and made little cardboard trees out of. I saw the idea first on No Time for Flashcards. I had also wanted to make these trees from Carisa at 1+1+1=1, but we ran out of paper towel rolls.

While at the cottage for Canadian Thanksgiving, we had a chance to see tree roots where the sand/dirt/ground had been washed away, leaving the main roots and rootlets exposed.

Did you know that there are main roots that will do ANYTHING and go anywhere to find a water source? Including burrowing into metal pipes! Then off those main roots come the rootlets, which branch out and create the tangled mass we usually see. Then off THOSE are root hairs which act like straws to draw the nutrients and water into the roots. Fascinating, I know!

In our journals we did a venn diagram of different leaves, some leaf and seed rubbings, and used the notebooking pages from The Outdoor Hour challenge to record information about the different trees we discovered.

So, little did we know there were multiple kinds of maple trees in our neighbourhood!

We gathered as many different looking leaves and “helicopters” as we could find, then brought them home to try and figure out which ones they were. MOST maple trees in our area are Norway Maple (?), since they’re cheap to get and reproduce a little TOO well (they might be considered a bit invasive). These may not be 100% accurate, but to our best ability and research!

As you can see there’s one I could not quite figure out. Any suggestions?

How did you get out and enjoy God’s creation this fall?

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