Nature Study – Oak Trees

Outdoor Hour

For Outdoor Hour Challenge #33, we studied oak trees. We have one fairly large oak in our yard. I find it quite interesting because when we moved in, we thought it was dead because it was March and all the leaves on the tree were brown. I mentioned to my dad one day when he was here, and he told us that this kind of oak doesn’t shed its leaves in the fall; instead, it holds them all winter, and when the sap rises in the spring, then the old leaves fall. We kept an eye on the tree, and he was right. (My dad is often right about trees and nature sorts of things.) Based on my reading in The Handbook of Nature Study, as well as some internet searches, I believe our oak tree is a type of red oak–probably a pin oak. We gathered a few very pointy-lobed leaves, but couldn’t easily find any acorns. At church on Sunday, we took advantage of the large white oaks near the playground for a little nature study. What better place to take a moment to appreciate the awesome God that made the awesome oak tree? We found plenty of acorns here, and gathered a few nicely rounded-lobed leaves, and admired how huge these trees are! I had read aloud the section on oak trees from The Handbook of Nature Study on Friday, and was pleased with how much Kathryn remembered as we discussed some of the characteristics of white oaks versus the other types of oaks.

Oak Tree Journal Entry
Kathryn’s journal entry

Yesterday, we did leaf rubbings and drew a few acorns in our nature journals, and decided we’d see if Ms. Comstock was right about white oak acorns being “sweet” as compared to the bitter acorns of the black oak group. I’ve eaten a very bitter acorn, which was orange inside, and the bitter taste lingered long. But after nibbling one of these acorns open, we admired the almost-white inner nut. When split in half, there was a lovely completely smooth, flat side. We–me, Kathryn, and Lacy–all tasted the acorn and decided it was very much like a cashew in color, texture, and flavor. (We’re pretty squirrelly around here!) Though not quite tasty enough to purposely gather for snacks, we decided that we could forage for these if ever we needed a little sustenance in the woods, and they’d be much more appealing than, say, grubs. (Dad has eaten those. Ick. He’s a worst-case scenario kind of guy who likes to be prepared for anything. And he talks to bears. But that’s a story for another post all it’s own.) I’ve mentioned that I have possibly the smartest dog ever. She has a yearning for knowledge, and is quite involved in our studies. I just have to share a few amusing photos to prove my point.

Lacy comes for a closer look.

And her own investigation.

We’ve already moved on to studying maples, beginning with our walk yesterday evening and continuing on this week. Oh! I almost forgot to mention that we were able to harvest some seeds from our sunflowers this week to save to replant again next year. I don’t know if they’ll come up, but it’ll be fun to try. We’ve left the sunflower heads out for our little birdie friends to enjoy.

I hope you’re enjoying your own nature study and outdoor time this week. We sure are!

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