I feel good. We're actually getting some things done besides spelling, handwriting, and math. Nature walks are an almost daily habit for us, but I've never really tried to get my kids to learn anything on them--they usually just enjoy the fresh air and exercise, and the view, unless they are grumbling about having to take a walk. Come to think of it, I haven't heard many complaints about walking lately. Ah, something else for which to feel grateful.
But back to the learning part--today we created a "family tree" for plants, of sorts, with brown wrapping paper (courtesy of the local Hallmark store--craft paper would have been better but craft stores are farther away) serving as the trunk and branches of the tree. Having learned the difference between vascular and non-vascular plants, we further divided plants into five categories: on the vascular side of the family, flowering plants, conifers, and ferns; on the non-vascular side, mosses and algae. (If you click on the picture I think you'll be able to see a larger version of the photo.) There are obviously a few we left out--such as horsetails that can be grouped with ferns and liverworts that are spore-bearing plants similar to mosses. Simpler is better for us these days (see getting things done, above).
The fun part was going outside and finding specimens of everything except algae, which we looked for at the pond but came home empty-handed. It would have been tricky to attach to the tree, too, so we used printouts of illustrations and photos of algae from the internet.
The idea for this project came from Keepers of Life, by Michael J. Caduto and Joseph Bruchac. I'm not sure how much we'll end up using this book, though we have enjoyed several of the Native American stories about plant life in it.
For more books we're using to learn about plants, check out this post.