Saturday, September 29, 2012

Nature Study - 9/29/12

You're going to love this :)

More kelp finds at the beach this week. I looked around at all the beached kelp to check for ones that had the holdfast attached since many marine creatures hide in there.

In this little piece of holdfast mingled with kelp mingled with shell, etc...

we found annelids! (sea worms!!!)

Look at how they swim... like snakes! I think my husband's comment was "Ew." Poor man; the CM nature study abuse he tolerates! ;-p

I imagine da Vinci could have mapped out the locomotion of this worm in fantastic drawings and figured out the mathematical equation for the movement of its segments. How keen the eye must be.

Here's a page at UCI with images of the annelids of Orange County.

I discovered a certain humorous Dr. Bill Bushing who lives in "self-imposed poverty" filming his scientific research in the waters surrounding Catalina Island. I emailed for help in identifying some of the invertebrates we'd found on the kelp and he was very helpful. He finished his email with "Off to film giant sea bass!" I just love running into people who are so passionate about what they do.

He has a series of very technical videos on the underwater sea life surrounding Catalina Island including a 3 part series on giant kelp (Macrocystis pyrifera) and one I love with views of a Cormorant diving for fish underwater. They dive from 150 - 200 feet! I thought the videos are helpful for the parent to learn and then share the knowledge gained with the littles in a more spontaneous living way.

Here's a case of double occupancy - kind of like traveling towers in a limpet-tube worm? snail? kinda way :)

This caught my eye because it looked like an 'H'. It looks like the same bryozoa we saw here, but instead of fanning out, it multiplied around the strand of kelp and across to another.
If you're getting tired of kelp, Fall is around the corner and we'll be heading out hiking again once the weather cools :)

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Nature Study - 09/23/12

I'm catching up on some pictures of our nature findings from this past month. This is our sunflower plant out front; it grew slouched over from lack of watering and as a result, only part of the flower received sunlight. Interestingly, the side that didn't receive light grew much slower. I always thought they bloomed symmetrically but this makes sense being that they are all separate individual flowers. 

Here's a picture I took standing in ankle deep water at Diver's Cove in Laguna Beach. I don't know the man in the picture, I just wanted to get a picture that showed how clearly you can see the leopard sharks and how close to shore they are. We also saw white sea bass the length of my forearm swimming just as close. 

This is from the same beach in Laguna. During the summer months they rent paddleboards for $25 an hour right on the beach. This lucky boarder got his money's worth! What caught my attention is the location of the spout in this picture, the majority of the fish is behind the spout (to the left, since this one is headed north; to the right.) What we're seeing is not even half of the fish!

This clump of mud was stuck on a brick wall out front for over a year. Any idea what it is?

Here's the backside after I took a knife and gently pried it off the wall. It's a mud-dauber nest. Can you see the amber colored casings left in three of the compartments? There were no wasps in them, only casings. I'm guessing they cocoon just like caterpillars and then emerge, leaving those casings behind. Look at how large they are; they fill the whole cell. 

Here's a side view after we opened a couple of the compartments. This is where they emerge. 

And here's a very brief video of the mud dauber gathering mud for its nest. Maybe it's the one that came out of the nest we found off to make its own. Its nest is way up by the roof where we can't access it this time.

This is hard to see, but I wondered if it might be a sundog of sorts. The u shaped cloud had rainbow colors in it. The red is closest to the sun and the blue farther away which matches what is said of them. 

Here is a picture of something that we've been seeing all over the kelp along the beach here. My best attempt at discovering what it is landed me at "lichenopora," a type of bryozoa. It is hard like a shell and pinkish in color. I heard it briefly mentioned on this video by Dr. Bill Bushing (who lives on Catalina Island diving and filming underwater sea life in 'self-imposed poverty' lol!) Catalina is 37 miles off the mainland here and an hour and a half boat ride away. There are non-native Bison that roam there and the chewing gum giant Wrigley's mansion is open for tours. Our sun always sets on Catalina on clearer days.

Here is another kind of bryozoa which I mentioned before. What struck me this time is that they are all in the creases of the kelp. I wonder if it is an accident or if they select it as a more protected area.

Here is a gorgeous sunset sky, Catalina is not visible in it. I keep meaning to purchase this cloud poster in hopes of learning more about the types of clouds we see. I can't help but wonder if it's truly an exact science -- they seem like they could be a couple of different kinds to me. Alas, we have much to learn.   

 Here's a short video of a sea hare we found hanging on for dear life to a little piece of rose colored seaweed in the surf. I think it's the smallest one we've seen.

The water had a lot of kelp in it today. I wonder if it has to do with recent storms elsewhere. There were several big batches of kelp like this floating off shore and drifting up on onto the beach. 

Here's the holdfast of the kelp. Guess what my four-year-old found hiding in it?

Little brittle stars :)

And here is the view as we headed home {gasp}. Glorious sky!

Last, and certainly least, we have shrimp for pets now! Every now and then we would end up with a bunch of tiny shrimp lying dead in our entryway and we couldn't figure out for the life of us why. Then we put out a bowl of water for a bird bath and the next morning we had tiny shrimp swimming in it! I finally got around to looking it up and apparently they are 'lawn shrimp' or 'house hoppers' -- they live where there is a lot of moisture and our front area tends to get flooded because it's at the bottom of two hills so it makes sense! We're going to see how long we can keep them :)

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The Great Need of Imagination

I am coming rather late to this treasure of a Parent's Review article - Imagination as a Powerful Factor in a Well-balanced Mind by E.A. Parish - 98 years late to be exact! More recently, within CM circles it seems to have made its rounds with Nancy Kelly of Sage Parnassus leading a session by its title at the 2012 Childlight Conference and Jeannette Tulis mentioning it in her recent article Transcendence of homeschooling.

It's about the importance of imagination in the life of a child. I blogged on this topic once here. With all the great information and curriculum and standards and benchmarks available to us in this technology driven information age, let us not lose sight of the child himself. Charlotte Mason wrote:
Here we have the right order. That which was born of the spirit, the idea, came first and demanded to confirm and illustrate. ~Vol. 6
What came first? Information? Facts?  

That which was born of the spirit, the idea...

And in that right order what was born of the spirit, the idea, DEMANDED to confirm and illustrate. 

Do we observe this right order in our teaching? Do we see it in our children; that light of curiosity, interest, thoughtfulness and the desire to know?  
The question is not,––how much does the youth know? ...but how much does he care?
This quote from the Parent's Review article by E.A Parish sums up one aspect in the art of educating my children where I continually strive for better understanding:

It is a great thing to have a teacher who makes it a rule of life never to tell things that can be found out unaided. 

Here are some more excellent quotes from the article...
To the child, from the beginning, life is the unfolding of one vast mystery; to him our stalest commonplaces are great news, our dullest facts prismatic wonders.

It is the children who are right, and we who are wrong; the world is more wonderful and more beautiful than even children think, and yet we would for ever correct them and inform them as to what we believe really is. We substitute facts for that wonder which is the seed of knowledge, and then we are amazed that eager, sweet-faced children grow into dull and indifferent little boys and girls.

This is an absolutely beautiful and instructing comment about their students and nature study...

...they feel that the world of nature is free to them, for they are left, as far as possible, unhampered by "must not" and "do not." Their study of nature is loving and sympathetic, and carried on with fullest recognition of the rights of the Nixies and the Pixies. Much free time is spent in the open air every day, and the children are guided wisely and not too obviously. They know what it is to breathe the freshness of the morning, to feel the loneliness and peace of quiet places, where the parsley fern is growing, where the streamlet trickles over butterwort and sundew, they know what it is to find the world so beautiful that the heart leaps and is glad. It is in these silent places that they come face to face with God, and register high resolves which form the keynote of their lives. It is not only that they are learning botany or natural history, though these studies can immeasurably increase their joy, but they are also acquiring a priceless treasure which can never be taken from them; which will fill their hearts with praise. I have noticed reverently, that those of my friends who seem always young, no matter the date of their birth, are those who have never lost this happy intimacy with nature, they still "believe in love, believe in loveliness, believe in belief"; and they still know what it is,
To see a World in a grain of sand
And a Heaven in a wild flower,
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand,
And Eternity in an hour.
(William Blake)

And this could have been written for soccer moms of today:
...two things are necessary—solitude and independence. Children must have these. ...Miss Mason devises time-tables which cover such reasonable hours as to leave time over for this solitude, but parents are often very culpable in thinking that Tango or some other new thing must be learned as well, and the much needed time for solitude is used for plans which necessitate hurried journeys, always in the company of a responsible person, who feels it her duty to talk in an instructive way, and the thinking time, the growing time, the time in which the mind is to find food is diminished, and the child becomes restless, tiresome, irritable, disobedient—everything that a child who is reputed to be difficult can be. 
It actually reminded me of Richard Louv's quote from Last Child in the Woods: Saving our Children From Nature Deficit Disorder:
Some kids don't want to be organized all the time. They want to let their imaginations run; they want to see where a stream of water takes them."

If you'd like to read the article for yourself, you can find it here: http://www.amblesideonline.org/PR/PR25p379Imagination.shtml