Barefoot in Suburbia

Homeschooling & Special Needs, Inspired by the Montessori Way

Outdoor Hour Challenge–Autumn Leaves, plus another safari trip October 20, 2010

Filed under: Exploring Nature,Field trips — Barefoot in Suburbia @ 8:25 am
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This week’s nature study was on autumn leaves.  Of course, if you’re in central Ohio in the middle of October, there is no better nature study than that!  Not only were we able to observe the changing foliage everywhere we went, but it made for a really good trip down to The Wilds, the nature conservation safari we’ve been to multiple times this year.  This visit did not disappoint.  The animals may not have been as active as they were during other parts of the season, but there were quite a few good encounters, and of course, the beautiful scenery that just can’t be found anywhere else!

The leaves are just past peak this week in Ohio, with last week's neon orange and bright reds turning into more muted colors.

The leaves are still a beautiful orange, although some have begun to drop from the trees.

More foliage


And all of the rest of the pictures are from The Wilds.  Be warned, there are a lot.  But there are some foliage pictures from The Wilds mixed in, so it counts. 😉


A zebra with a background of Ohio autumn you don't see that everyday!

The difference between horns and antlers--horns are permenant and hollow inside, antlers are temporary and solid.

Giraffe at sunset

Some wildflowers

More giraffes

Beautiful autumn leaves

More foliage

Another giraffe

More foliage


Little baby rhino

White tailed deer

Gorgeous fall day!

This creepy not-so-little guy was climbing up the side of a building by the carnivore conservation center

Bitty Bug and her daddy

These trees have already dropped most of their leaves

Trumpeter Swan

Bug feeding the catfish


Autumn in Ohio

Beautiful foliage near the entrance


Sunday on Safari September 12, 2010

Filed under: Exploring Nature,Field trips — Barefoot in Suburbia @ 9:09 pm
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Today, we took the kids to a place in central Ohio called The Wilds.  If you haven’t been there yet, you’re missing out!  This was our second time going this season, and we want to make one more trip there next month.  It never disappoints!  We got to take an air conditioned bus through over 500 acres (they have 10,000 acres total, but not all is available to the public).   It is the largest wildlife conservation centers in the United States and one of the largest in the world.   During the trip, we got to see some awesome animals up close and personal!

The view from the visitor's center

Bactrian Deer, native to central Asia and parts of the middle east

American Bison, native to North was actually kind of amusing to watch the rhino chase the bison. Don't see that every day...

More bison

An adult and baby Southern White Rhino, native to southern Africa.

We got fantastic views of the white rhinos, and one kept coming really close to our bus

At one point, he started running right towards us!

Eld's Deer, native to south and southeast Asia

Scimitar-horned onyx, formerly native to north Africa. It was extinct in the wild until 2007 when The Wilds send one of theirs to Tunisia as part of a reintroduction project

Bitty Bug relaxing in the mid-sized carnivore conservation area

Jedi making goofy faces outside of the cheetah area

Monkey taking a few minutes to sit down after watching the cheetahs

Cheetahs, native to sub-saharan Africa and northern Iran

Przewalski's Wild Horse, native to Europe and parts of Asia. They were extinct at one point, but were reintroduced to Mongolia and China in recent years

Giraffes, native to Africa

A honeybee pollinating the flowers--you can even see his pollen sack!


More Przewalkski wild horses


The kids walking on the trail

Various Ohio Native plants

More giraffes

Indochina Sika Deer, native to Vietnam and China, but likely extinct in the wild

Bactrian Camels, native to Mongolia

More camels

Persian Onagers, native to Iran


Outdoor Hour Challenge: Queen Anne’s Lace September 2, 2010

Filed under: Exploring Nature — Barefoot in Suburbia @ 7:39 pm
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This week’s nature study was Queen Anne’s Lace.  Queen Anne’s Lace is also called “wild carrot” and “bird’s nest”.   Some of the facts we learned about Queen Anne’s Lace are:

-It looks very similar to the Poison Hemlock, except the flowers on the Queen Anne’s Lace are more compact

-Sometimes, you can see a tiny red flower in the center of the white blooms, which is said to attract insects.

-The root is edible, but once the flower matures, the root becomes too woody to eat.

-The white blossoms curl up and turn brown in the fall, and then fall off and roll around the ground like tumbleweeds

Queen Anne's Lace along our fenceline

One of the blooms seeding

A bloom open

One head completely dried out


Some of the other flowers we found this week (all in the kids’ garden)….


Outdoor Hour Challenge…Grasshoppers August 27, 2010

Filed under: Exploring Nature — Barefoot in Suburbia @ 9:35 am
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This week, we got up close and personal with grasshoppers.  Actually, maybe they got up close and personal with us–it seemed like everywhere we turned this week, there were a few hopping around us.  Every evening, we’d always find a bunch of smaller grasshoppers on our front porch–they were always about an inch in length, grass green, with a red patch on the back legs.

But then we’d also get these big ones…

We were driving the other day and this not-so-little guy hitched a ride on our car. He rode on our windshield until we could pull over and study him!

He was a big one too...about 3" long. And apparently pretty good at holding on to the windshield of a moving car! The kids all loved watching him, until he hopped away--straight onto a windshield of another parked car!

This was another 2 1/2-3" long grasshopper I found while I was weeding the garden. He let us hold him on a blade of grass for his photo session...

Once we were done, we let him down. At first, he only hopped about 12" away. But then we watched him leap about 10" at a time! It's amazing how far something with such tiny legs can jump!


And not grasshopper related, but an update on our butterflies!

Earlier this week, the caterpillars formed their chrysalids. As of this morning, a couple of them had turned dark black, which means they will be emerging within the next 24 hours!


Outdoor Hour Challenge–Evening Primrose & Night Blooming Flowers August 18, 2010

Filed under: Exploring Nature — Barefoot in Suburbia @ 7:11 am
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This week, the outdoor challenge was evening primrose and night blooming flowers.  It was great timing, because we were planning on going camping anyhow!  It was the first time camping for everyone in the family, except my husband…so, being camping newbies, plus doing primitive tent camping with three kids from ages 1 through 6, we were in for quite the adventure!  I’ll post most of those pictures at the end of this post, so that the nature study stuff can be at the top of the post.

Anyhow, it was a rainy night with a few thunderstorms, so we weren’t able to go out to observe early on in the evening.  However, once it was dark, the thunderstorms let up and we were able to walk around the edge of the woods and lake looking for flowers that only bloom at night.  Oddly enough, we actually didn’t see any.  But, the next morning we did see morning glories…flowers that only bloom in the morning!  So, it wasn’t quite the results of the challenge we wanted, but still, really cool and kind of related!

Morning Glory fully opened

A view of the bloom from the side

A flower getting ready to bloom

Here's a view of the leaves around a bloom. This bloom had fallen out, so we got a good view of the teardrop shaped leaves.


And now for the camping pictures…I’ll post it in 2 parts because there are like 30 pictures to share!  There are lots of nature-related ones too.

Red berries that were around the campsight

The trees surrounding the tent

Thunderstorm rolling in

Jedi watching minnows

Peekaboo, Monkey!

Happy little Bitty Bug running around

Bug pretending to nap

All three kids trying to catch minnows in their nets

I caught one in mine! Later, Jedi caught one too.

The rain started coming down hard, so the kids went back to the tent to play games

Back to the water!

Bug going rock hunting in the water

Calm lake...nobody else was here because the beach closed when the thunderstorms hit, and only one other family was camping at the campground due to the weather

A view of one of the fake mountains around the lake...we actually hiked up a smaller version of this that was right next to it earlier this summer


Posting part 1…more camp pictures in the next post