I fully admit that I am not strong at nature study, but I am trying!
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Recently, I came across these little books, Small Adventures Journal: A Little Field Guide for Big Discoveries in Nature on Amazon and bought one for both boys. They have great little prompts for mapping the neighborhood (we'll do the farm), cloud studies, tree studies, using your senses in nature, etc. I figured this would be useful for giving us inspiration when I'm low on ideas. The kids also like something more explicit than "study that tree" so this should be helpful for everyone involved. Some prompts don't have the need for writing/drawing, but most pages have a space to record results. A few activities will have to be done in a regular nature journal.
I found an activity called Make a Spore Print when I was browsing through it, and thought the kids would find that interesting, so when I saw mushrooms outside one morning, we got to it! We had to take our regular nature notebooks for this one.
Emory's mushroom in grass.
We brought a variety of mushrooms inside to do the activity. We looked at some caps under our pocket microscope. I'm searching for a new quality microscope right now since they've outgrown their beginner one, but the pocket microscope gave us decent results!
It's really simple, and you can find basic instructions for this online, too. The book said to use light paper for dark mushrooms and dark paper for light mushrooms. It didn't specify if it was referring to the caps or the spores, and I've already clarified I'm no outdoorsy girl, so we did both, just in case.
At the end of the day, we removed the glasses and found that these mushrooms did much better on the lighter paper, so I'd say these are dark spores! I put clear tape over them to help preserve the print.
The first picture was from a mushroom that was still little bit more open and cone shaped, while the lower picture was from a mushroom that was more flat and rounded at the edges--the boys said it looked like a sombrero! It's the one pictured under the glass above.