During the summer months, I began planning for our formal nature studies and gathering supplies for our nature center. We had already created a roly poly terrarium, studied a turtle in our bathtub, and researched an orange-headed lizard (a skink). But I love the idea of a more structured nature study...and I was looking forward to starting these once the new school year began.
But one afternoon as I was cooking dinner, I looked out the window and realized a nature study had just presented itself. There was a turtle in our driveway. I gathered a blanket, a basket with crayons, blank paper, and our field guide. Then I called for the kids, and we ran outside.
First, we observed the turtle (who quickly tucked himself in his shell when we arrived). We discussed the pattern of his shell and the color of his skin once he poked his head back out. :) Old Crow and I also remembered what we had learned about turtles from his Big Backyard Magazine...that the shell grows as the turtle grows and that the shell is a part of the turtle. It isn't something the turtle can leave behind like the hermit crab does.
Next, we used our field guide to learn more about this turtle. I demonstrated how to find "turtles" in the index and we quickly turned to the section on turtles. We looked through all the different turtles of our region and finally came to the one that looked exactly like our "visitor." Our turtle was an Eastern Box Turtle.
Memphis Belle also enjoyed looking through the pictures. :)
Then Crazy Horse insisted we make a home for the turtle. (That child will do anything to play with water and dirt). Anyway, so the boys put water and dirt in a container to create the turtle's pond environment. And they all loved watching it swim around.
Lastly, we passed out the paper and opened up the crayons. They each drew the turtle. It was quite interesting to see their interpretations. Memphis Belle's turtle was purple. ;)
Crazy Horse drew a basic shape and barely got the legs drawn before he was up again to start digging a permanent home for the turtle. :)
Old Crow's turtle was extremely detailed...right down to the pattern on its back.
After he completed the picture and labeled his drawing, he looked at it and said
"Hmmm...that kind of looks like a frog." Well, it looks perfect to me and an excellent beginning to our nature studies. :)