Monday, August 1, 2011

Stanley Park Mondays - Week 1: Collecting leaf specimens

Another of my goals is to incorporate some educational activities that don't require a lot of material items or money.  Now that AJ is big enough to participate in this type of activities, I think it's important for us to get out and start learning lots of new things, and to really learn to appreciate the world around us. 

A few weeks ago we started "Field Trip Wednesdays".  Not only is it a day for the kids to get out and do something exciting, it's also a day off of housecleaning for me :-).  It has been a huge success so far, so I wanted to add another specialty day to the mix. 

Stanley Park is a great place and a truly wonderful resource for our community.  I am so grateful to have it so close to home.  The kids love the playground there, and AJ has been asking constantly to go to the playground.  So I thought we would head out to the playground for a while and then head into some of the nature trails to collect nature specimens.  I thought today we could start out collecting different kinds of leaves, and then later on we could use the internet to identify them and then either press them in wax paper, label them, color them, or do cutout shapes of the different leaves.

We had a wonderful time.  We started out at the playground, found some kids to play with, then headed out to the trails.  The girls had such fun in the woods.  They were completely filthy when we were done.  I am a firm believer that the amount of dirt and grime a child picks up is directly relative to the amount of fun had. 

We collected quite a few leaf specimens, and we also spotted squirrel, chipmunk, and a woodpecker -- I think it was a Downy Woodpecker.  We ended the walk at the duck pond where we saw frogs, goldfish, swan, ducks and geese.

After naptime, we started on identifying our specimens.  We found a few really good websites to help identify the leaves.  These are a couple.  There are lots others, too.  Just do a Google search for Leaf Identification.

Now the kids started to lose interest after awhile and were more into destroying the house and making messes than in making labels for the I finished up making the labels. 
Then we arranged the leaves on one sheet of wax paper, inserted the label, and placed another sheet of wax paper on top.  Place a towel or cloth diaper over the wax paper and iron with a dry iron at medium heat.  This kind creates a seal...although it's not an especially tight seal.  The leaves and label do wiggle around in there a bit.  So we finished four of these until the kids were bouncing off the walls and it was time to start cooking dinner.  We have a few remaining specimens.  for those I think we will just glue them on pretty paper and label them instead of doing the wax paper.  It's more hands on for the kids that way.  So we'll finish off this project tomorrow.

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