Summer in Texas has been pretty mild this year. Mornings have started in the mid 70s, getting up only to the low 90s by noon. That’s really cool for summer in Texas. My boys and I have been taking advantage of the “cooler weather”, and taking nature walks at local parks this week. As we took a walk a couple of days ago at Bonnie Wenk Park, I realized our nature walk was the perfect opportunity for all three boys to explore not only nature, but science!
Lessons from our Nature Walk
I was’t sure how well our first ever nature walk would go. It was already 11am by the time we got to the park, and we were dangerously close to lunch and nap time. But the four of us started along the trail, the 3 year old on his balance bike, the 5 year old on his scooter, and me and the big boy on foot.
I have a strict rule that we disturb nature as little as possible during our walks. We are a guest in the plants’ and animals’ home, and we should leave it as nice as when we came in. So when the boys wanted to bring something from our walk home, I took a picture of it instead. The picture was our way of taking what we found, home.
We saw a lot of Texas wildflowers during our walk. I took a picture of each one, and decided we would identify them later. Back at home, my son found a Texas wildflower website, and identified the flowers all the flowers we saw one our nature walk. A couple of the flowers were pretty challenging, but I think he did a great job!
The hardest wildflower to identify was little white flowers bunched together, mostly because my picture didn’t capture the details of the small flowers. But after narrowing his search down to a few options, he finally settled on Bishop’s Weed. We learned the flower was not actual a native Texas wildflower, but it is now found fairly prolifically in our state.
Another plant we saw a lot was a vine with 3 lobed leaves. My son used another website to identify the plant as a Saw Greenbrier.
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Life Cycles during our Nature Walk
At the turn around point of our walk was a little stream. We found so many fun finds in the stream! Our first discovery was a bunch of tadpoles that looked to be in different phases of the frog life cycle.
We had a lot of fun watching the tadpoles swim. They were really fast!
Snails and Shells on our Nature Walk
Another one of our super fun discoveries was snails! We found several empty shells of difference sizes, and snails with their shells attached to themselves. My oldest wondered if snails ever outgrew their shells, and left them for bigger ones, like crabs. We decided to write that down as a question to research further when we got home.
At home we learned, from the Snail Wrangler, snails are born with their shells, and the shells grow along with the snail! So snails never leave their shell behind.
While we watched the tadpoles swim around, we also found a snail trying to move under water! My oldest son thought it was the coolest thing, so of course I recorded it.
Other Nature Walk Discoveries
As we were enjoying watching the tadpoles and snails and finding empty shells, my middle son found something else. Tracks! We brainstormed ideas of whom the tracks could belonged to. Maybe a dog or a racoon. Maybe a bobcat or an opossum.
Then my imaginative middle son said “Maybe a baby T-rex! Right here is a dinosaur bone!”.
I love his imagination! And I love that our nature walk spurred his imagination to turn a piece of concrete into a dinosaur fossil!
Do you take nature walks with your kids? What great finds have you made? I encourage you to take walks in your neighborhood or a nearby park. You might be surprised at the discoveries you make!
Did you enjoy exploring STEM in nature? Then check out some of these posts!
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