Old Trees, New Life- Camping Activity

When a tree falls, its life is over. But the tree can still give life to others. The dead tree becomes its own ecosystem, where plants, insects, and microorganisms thrive-from the mosses, ferns, and fungi that make the rotting tree their home to a whole host of bugs and bacteria that eat the tree and break it down into soil for new plants! Next time you see a dead log, take a close look and record your observations in your Field Journal. You just might be amazed by what you see.

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What You Do

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#1. Find a rotting log: Look for a tree that has fallen and that has wood breaking apart in pieces. It may be slightly damp.

 

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#2. Describe what the log looks like. What is growing on it? Can you see any mushrooms, ferns, mosses, or lichens? Are there baby trees or any other plants sprouting out of the wood?

 

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#3. Do you see any insects? What are they doing? Look for tiny piles of sawdust at the base of the log. This is evidence that insects have drilled into the wood, starting the decomposition process. The holes left behind create highways for fungi and bacteria to come in and break down the wood even further.

 

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#4.  Tap the log with your fingers. Is it hollow? Wet? Bone-dry? What does it smell like?

 

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#5. Put on your gloves and gently and carefully lift the log a few inches to see if you can take a peek underneath. What do you see? Are there insects underneath? What are they doing? What do they look like? When you’re done, put the log back.

 

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#6.  Use your magnifying glass to peek at the log itself. Do you see insects breaking it down? What do they look like under the magnifying glass? What about the plants growing on the tree? What do the mushrooms look like up close?

 

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#7. Draw and describe what you’ve seen in your field journal. Try to identify plants, animals, and insects by looking at your field guide or Nature Anatomy book! 

 

There is so much to learn! Head outdoors and explore! 🙂

 

 

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Road Trips and Conventions!

Traveling/convention season is one of our favorite things about the Spring and Summer. It’s a chance to see new things and meet incredible people! With that being said, it’s hard to believe that our time on the road is half way over. Last week’s show was MASSHOPE, and was held in Massachusetts. It was a fantastic conference, and we’re looking forward to going back next year! This weekend we’re in Arlington, Texas for the THSC homeschool convention. We just finished setting up, and are looking forward to another great weekend! If you’re planning on attending this year, stop by and say hello! 🙂

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Empowering Young People to Reach Their Full Potential

Whether you’re homeschooling your children, or are simply looking for extracurricular activities, 4-H is a wonderful option! 4-H prepares young people to be leaders in their community and around the world through hands-on experiences alongside their peers and caring adults. Children can learn about farming, wood-working, archery, photography, art, science, sewing, insect collecting, animals, cooking/canning, and so much more! The possibilities of what they can learn and accomplish are endless.

About 4-H

 4-H began over 100 years ago, and has since grown into the largest youth development program in the nation. Backed by a network of more than 6 million youth, 540,000 adult volunteers, 3,500 professionals, and more than 60 million alumni; 4-H delivers research-based programming around positive youth development. 4-H is delivered through America’s 109 land-grant universities and the Cooperative Extension Service—reaching every corner of our nation. In Indiana, 4-H can be found in all 92 counties as delivered through Purdue Extension. Community clubs, after-school programs, school enrichment, camps/workshops, and special programs are all ways youth across Indiana can be involved with the 4-H program.

Indiana 4-H Mission: 

The Indiana 4-H Youth Development mission is to provide real-life educational opportunities that develop young people who will have a positive impact in their communities and the world.

Indiana 4-H Vision: 

Indiana 4-H Youth Development strives to be the premier, community-based program empowering young people to reach their full potential.

 

Projects

Members have the opportunity to learn more about a subject matter that they choose to study through completing hands on activities. We refer to these as projects. In order to enroll in a project, members must sign up for them at the time of enrolling in 4-H. Each project has a manual that guides the youth through the learning process as well as a set of guidelines that helps them meet the project requirements. We provide adult volunteers and staff who are knowledgeable on that particular subject who will often times provide workshops to allow the youth to learn about that topic in a social environment. Each project has a beginner, intermediate, and advanced level-this allows youth to build on their knowledge each year and continue to challenge their skills. Projects are meant to be worked on over time, providing an educational opportunity for youth outside of the classroom setting. Often times, youth will exhibit and display their project at a local county fair in order to show the community what they have learned.

As you complete your projects use 4-H-620-W “My Record of 4-H Achievement” to keep detailed records of your exhibits. Click here for a Microsoft Word version of the “My Record of 4-H Achievement.”

There is no limit to the number of projects youth can sign up for, however, we suggest starting out with one or two your first year. If you know what project(s) you are looking for, simply find it listed under a specific category listed below.

Join 4-H

Want to get involved? Contact your local County Extension Office to find out what clubs meet in your area. Click here to enroll in 4HOnline as a 4-H club member!

 

 

Here are a few of our favorite 4-H activity products!

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Insect Collecting Kit

 

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Weather Forecasting

 

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Air-stream Machines
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The Woodland Homestead
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Guide to Raising Chickens
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Garden activities

 

Taking the Early Years Outdoors!

“In this time of extraordinary pressure, educational and social, perhaps a mother’s first duty to her children is to secure for them a quiet growing time, a full six years of passive receptive life, the waking part of it spent for the most part out in the fresh air” (Vol. 1, p. 43).

Even back in the day, a hundred years ago, mothers were feeling the pressure to push their preschool children towards academics and social activities. But Charlotte Mason (one of our favorite educators) advocated an opposite approach that still holds benefits for you today. One of my favorite bits of advice from hers is this: “Give your children a quiet growing time, most of it spent outdoors.”

Her object is to show that the chief function of the child-his business in the world during the first six to seven years of his life-is to find out all he can, about whatever comes under his notice, by means of his five senses; and that the goal of his parents should be to put him in the way of making acquaintance freely with Nature and natural objects.

“Intimate acquaintance with every natural object within his reach is the first and, possibly, the best part of a child’s education.” (Vol.2, p. 261)

One of the greatest things about nature study is that you don’t have to go farther than your own backyard! No matter what the size, your yard holds plenty of opportunities to study nature, physics, chemistry, art and much more! Use this list to help guide you on the amazing journey of discovering God’s world of nature!

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Leaf Study

How Do Leaves Breathe

Square Foot Garden

Flower Dissection

Seed Study

Wildflower Identification

Wildflower Study

Bark

Pinecones

Measuring Plant Growth

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Birds

Bird Nests

Attracting Birds To The Backyard

more tips on bringing birds to your backyard

American Robin

Winter Foods For Birds

Animal Tracks

Animal Tracks ID

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Squirrels

Bats

Tadpoles

Owls

Owl Pellets

How To Attract Owls

Toads

Observing Worm

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Insect Study

Butterflies

Bees

Honey Bees

Benefits Of Insects

Spiders

Spider Webs

Bug Activities

Build A Ladybug House

Tell the temperature with crickets

Ants

Pill Bugs

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Using Clouds To Predict The Weather

Storms

Weather

DIY Weather Station

Make A Weather Vane

Evaporation Experiment

Frozen Bubbles

Measuring Snow

Snowflake Science

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Learn Summer Constellations

Solar Magnification

Solar System

Human Sun Dial

Make A Solar Oven 

Solar Prints

Use the sun’s energy to heat water

Astronomy events

 

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10 Ways To Study Rocks

Dirt Experiment

Make A Compost Bin

Soil Science

Rocks and mineral testing

Sandbox Science

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Backyard Bark Beetles

Great Sunflower Project

Urban Buzz – cicada project

Great Backyard Bird Count

Squirrel Mapper

Monarch SOS

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Bugs In Our Backyard

Dark Sky Meter

Big Butterfly Count

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Native Buzz – Bees

Bumblebee Watch

American Kestrel Partnership

Butterflies And Moths Of North America

Yard Map

Project Noah

Nest Watch

Nature’s Notebook

S’COOL – Students Cloud Observations Online

Bud Burst

Fire Fly Watch

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Square Foot Nature Study

Life Under A Log

Patterns In Nature