Nature Study: Century Plants

We visited the Denver Botanic Gardens for one of our recent nature studies to observe Century Plants or Agave Americana. The gardens are home to about 10 of the plants along with many other closely related species of agave plants. We were able to print a map at home of the location of the 10 plants and use it as a kind of a scavenger hunt to locate them on the 23 acre property.






I read a newspaper article reporting that one of the century plants at the Gardens had recently budded its one lifetime’s flower and then died. I particularly hoped that we would see this one. The morning before we left, we read a wonderful story in Outdoor Secrets by Margaret P. Boyle about a century plant.

The kids loved the story and were eager to see this plant for themselves.




We found the cacti and succulent area of the Gardens and Bud ran ahead to explore. Suddenly I turned a corner and saw it! I was so excited! It was SO tall – probably 15 feet or more. The plant at the base had died and completely dried up. We were all excited to see the plant and the kids immediately related it to the story we had heard that morning. What a wonderful homeschool moment!





We drew in our nature notebooks that afternoon. It was easy to recall the dramatic plant and its umble shaped buds. I love the aquamarine blue color the living plants had had even in the dead of winter amidst the other dried plants.

Bud – Age 7

Peanut – Age 5

My journal entry

For as the earth brings forth its sprouts, and as a garden causes the things sown in it to spring up, so the Lord GOD will cause righteousness and praise to spring up before all the nations. Isaiah 61:11

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Nature Study: Squirrels

ns_squirrelsThis month we have been reading and learning all about squirrels. We just finished reading Here Come the Squirrels and Chipmunk on Hollow Tree Lane as our natural history books. We compared squirrels and chipmunks and listed some ways they can be harmful and helpful to humans.

IMG_0176 IMG_0175 Then we set out on our bikes, scooters, and stroller on a walk around a park in Denver to observe squirrels in their natural habitat. Picture 779

We saw this “Momma Squirrel” gathering food for the babies in her nest way up high in a tree.Picture 778 Picture 777 Picture 776 Picture 775 Picture 774

We looked for squirrels nests all along the bike path on Clear Creek and they were clearly visible in the barren February landscape.Picture 773 Picture 772 Picture 771  Picture 141We even saw a hawk perched high in a tree looking down over a field searching for her next meal.

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Later that week we set some peanuts out on our deck and watched as the squirrels came to munch down on the nuts.Picture 139 Picture 138 Picture 137 Picture 40It has been fun learning about and observing these friendly neighborhood creatures. We look forward to seeing chipmunks in about a month as they emerge from their hibernation.

 

Nature Study: Dried Plants

ns_dried_plantsVery truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.
John 12:24

Picture 2Winter is a courageous season. Seeds months ago blew to their future resting places and now lie deep beneath the cold, fallen snow. The skeletons of grasses and flowers conjure up memories of warm summer days and bright greens, purples, and reds. Now the landscape is monochromatic and dreary, yet contains a beautiful picture of our Savior.

The hope and the promise of the gospel should lay as certain as the hope and promise of spring. One day soon, these grasses, these skeletons of dust will disappear and in their place, there will be new green buds bursting with life. Do you have this hope?

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Nature Study: Snow and Ice

Sunrise on snowThis week we looked at snow and ice for our Nature Study time. We have gotten a record-breaking amount of snow along the Front Range of Colorado this February. I love our relaxed days of learning at home because we don’t have anywhere to go. We can just enjoy the amazing handiwork of God in each tiny ice crystal.

Picture 104I went out as the sun was rising to look in the backyard and down the valley of the glorious winter scene.

Picture 107Each little tiny plant was covered with a tuft of snow that delicately picked up on the early morning rays.

Picture 106The ponderosas bore the weight of the heavy, thick spring snow. All throughout the next few days we watched the wind carry these puffs off into clouds of white snow spreading below the trees.

Picture 108Down the valley, gentle smoke rose from the chimney of a neighboring farm.

Picture 109The rising sun’s rays turned the trees’ white gown a golden color.

Picture 111Tiny ice crystals caught the early light and created a beautiful field of sparkles.

Picture 112The gutters were lined with long icicles dripping as the sun’s warmth touched them.

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Picture 101The kids got bundled up in their snowsuits and helped me find beautiful sights in our yard.

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Picture 114We found icicles around the entire perimeter of the house and talked about how they are formed from the melting snow dripping down.

It was a wonderful day of enjoying God’s amazing creation of snow and ice. We read Snowflake Bentley and Snowy Day later and talked about fun ways to enjoy the snow. We also got out our trusty tube and slid down the driveway at least 50 times! We love snow!