Monday, September 27, 2010

Exploring nature in our city

This week’s question on the blog cruise is:
“How do you do nature studies where YOU live?”

Nature studies can be done everywhere we go in our city.   We are blessed beyond measures with a greenbelt around our city.  You can download the all seasons trail map here.

Not only that but there is a multitudes of trails and parks where we can go an explore around.  Look at what I found on our city’s website…

  • More than 850 parks within City boundaries

  • Maintains 2,853 hectares of parkland

  • 6, 648 hectares of natural parkland

  • 9,501 hectares of open space

  • 234 km of trails or 0.27 km of trails per 1,000 persons

  • So there is tons of opportunity of exploring and discovering nature around us.   Within a 10-15 minutes drive you can find nice trails and go explore with your family.   

    One of the special places I would love to go (yes in 10 years living here, I still haven’t find the time to drive the 40 minutes to go there… shame on us!) is the Mer Bleu area.  

    We are also within driving distance (about 30 minutes) from the famous Gatineau Park which is Canada’s Capital Conservation Park.  While there you can also visit the Mackenzie King Estate which would include a bit of history in the homeschool.

    Even in my own neighbourhood, there is one walking trail within 5 minutes of our house – literally!   
    Honestly, there is no reason whatsoever to not study nature in our area.  There is plenty to do and it is good exercises too.

    During winter, we could go skate on the Rideau Canal Skateway and enjoy the Beaver Tails.  

    Our Museum of Nature has just reopens its doors this past spring after major renovations.   We haven’t had the time to visit it yet but I am planning to go to it during the school year. 

    And to complete our time to study nature, we are blessed to have the visit of wild rabbits in our backyard as well as some birds.    So every once in a while, we observe the rabbits and enjoy their presence.   This year, we also had the privilege to see a squirrel running on the fence.   The kids were pleased to see that little animal.  

    I think it is a blessing in itself to see nature through the eyes of a child.   It amazes me how much they get excited for little things – even ladybugs.

    Earlier this summer, we discovered a dead dragonfly when we came out of the house.  How it got on our porch we have no idea but having the opportunity to see one up close was wonderful.   While on vacation, we found a dead butterfly stuck in the front of our truck.  Once again, it was a good opportunity to see one close and discover the fragility of its wings.   I am planning to pin it in a special frame.    Should be a fun activity don’t you think?

    A few years ago, we participated in an activity at Petrie Island (totally at the other side of the city for us) on turtle hatching.   We learned about turtles and went on to try to discover a nest.   My kids did found one and we also found plenty of left over egg shells as well.   It was fun.    

    The following spring, as we were opening our trailer for upcoming season, we witnessed a turtle laying her eggs in the ground.    It was priceless and a wonderful opportunity to complete the previous activity we did back in the previous fall.

    There there is the fishing.    The kids loves to go on the boat with daddy and spent some time on the lake at Logos Land.    They have the opportunity to observe fishes, turtles, frogs, a family of loons (every year) and more.   This year, my 2nd son, Dominic, even saw a water snake during his one-on-one time with daddy.  And when we were at Science North in Sudbury, the kids had the opportunity to touch a variety of animals – water snakes, flying squirrels (which we didn’t know existed in Ontario), turtles and much more.

    When you go out with your kids, don’t forget a camera to snap9-21-2010 7;00;35 AM memories.   Recently, we started some sort of nature journal and are collecting trunk samples of trees we encounter.   We also stencil the trunk as well as a leave.  When we get back home, we try to find the type of tree and write it down on the page.   This way the kids are  discovering a new way to learn about trees. On the right, you can see the example of a paper birch (Betula papyrifera).   Did you know that this tree was used by Native peoples for birchbark canoes, baskets, and message paper?  (See the pictures below - taken at Elliot Lake Uranium and Mining Museum)

    Discovering nature is easy.   Take the time to bring your kids outside and walk in trails.   Get a book about trees, birds, plants, and animals to learn the names of them.

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