I wonder if you are finding it hard to incorporate nature study into your week? Some of you are not living next door to the beach, rain forest, or national park. Going out with your little ones may seem a little too hard. I understand, I’ve been there. I know you want to feel the freedom of being outside, of putting aside the books, but it feels a little irresponsible when you haven’t finished the math lesson and your housework is falling behind. How is it possible to fit it all in?
The simple answer is that you can’t.
The freeing idea is that you don’t have to!
Don’t feel as though you need to spend hours every day exploring the far reaches of Australia! A simple trip into town this week, with a 10min walk through the vacant land next to the car park was all I had energy for. And guess what, that is OK. Some days you will feel like a beautiful adventure and some days you will struggle to make it out the door.
So, what did our 10min nature outing look like?
Come and walk with me…
Quite often we will take a shortcut, across the vacant block, next to the car park, to reach our car. I’ve often noticed weeds that I don’t recognize and flowers that pop up in unlikely spots. It’s not a well-looked-after area and rarely gets mowed. This week I took a basket and camera and encouraged the children to help me photograph and collect samples from this area. I asked the children to look and see how many different kinds of plants they could find. It was drizzly, cold and to be honest, I was really tired. I almost said, “forget it, let’s just go home,” but I didn’t. My 14 year old chose to stay in the car, but the younger girls started looking and before long their excitement drew me in.
“Look at this flower!”
“Mum, have you ever seen this?”
“What do you think this is?”
“This one is so pretty!”
What were they admiring? Weeds of course!
When our basket was full and we thought we had seen all there was, we returned to the car and headed home. The girls got out their nature journals and we started to look over what we had collected.
To identify the plants we used the Weed Identification web key, from Weeds Australia.
To use this key, you need to consider things like the size of the leaf, plant, and flower. The number of petals on the flower. The shape of the leaf and of the flower. The colour.
Hmmm, A math lesson wrapped up in weed identification?
I’m sure that everyone has a footpath, backyard, vacant block near them with a variety of weeds ready for you to discover!
Ask your child:
- How many different plants did we find?
- Which has the biggest leaves?
- What percentage of the plants had flowers on them?
- How tall are the biggest plants?
You could also include:
- How big do you estimate this block, strip of land, to be?
- Can you measure it in steps?
- You could count how many different weeds you find in a 1m square section.
- You could make a weed map.
There are so many ways to weave math into your everyday!
I would love to be able to walk past and identify, by sight, all the weeds that we have around us, but for now, I am happy to know, that after our 10min weed walk, the children and I can spot and identify Mallow. Little by little, step by step we are learning more and more about the amazing world around us!
If you would like to find a discussion place for all things relating to teaching your children math, you can join our MeWe group.
And don’t forget to download your free badge book and badges for our Nature Club where you will find new habitat challenges to earn badges.
If you would like to discover more about weeds, you might like to consider the Nature Study Australia Guide – Volume 3.