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Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Fabulous Field Trip

I posted at the beginning of last school year about our new unit study called Pathways of Exploration.  We are really enjoying it.  Right now, we are studying Daniel Boone.  The lesson we are on right now is about trees (i.e. roots, crown, annual rings, etc.) in the science section.  I called my mom & dad and asked them if they had any trees that needed cut down at their house in Spencer, Indiana, so I could show the girls what annual rings are.  Of course, there is always work to do and trees to be cleaned up in their few acres of timber.  We planned a field trip for today to learn about trees.  We were up at dawn and headed down there because it is a 2 1/2-hour drive.  We wanted to make the most of our day.
 My dad is 72 years old.  He has been in the woods all of his life.  He grew up with a chainsaw and splitting maul in his hand.  What better person to teach us about trees?!  Dad cut a piece off of this stump to get a fresh cut so he could show the girls the annual rings.  Before he started cutting, he said he guessed the tree (a beech) to be 90-110 years old.  

As Dad was cutting, the sound of the chainsaw stirred something inside of me.  Do you know how certain sounds or certain smells trigger something that's been buried inside of you for years?  Things you think you've forgotten.  That's what that sound did to me this morning. I grew up in the woods as my mom helped my dad every day.  I was an only child until I was 5 years old, so I just went with Mom & Dad to the woods every day and entertained myself.  They were just telling my girls the stories last week of how I would lay my blanket on the ground a few feet away from my dad running the chainsaw and fall asleep and how I started the crawler and started moving when I was just three years old.  The sound of that saw and watching my dad cut a tree brought all the memories rushing back and made my eyes fill with tears.  All of those days and years of cutting and hauling firewood with my dad when it was 10 below zero or 100 degrees in the shade formed my character to be the hardworking, slave-driving mother I am today.  Just ask my girls!  :) 
 So Dad got down on the ground and counted the annual rings with the girls, explaining how the ones closer together were the years when there wasn't very much rain and the tree didn't grow very much.  Guess how old that tree was?!  110 years old!!!  Hmm!  I guess Dad knew what he was talking about.
 Then we went on a nature hike through their woods, picking up leaves, nuts, sticks, fungi, berries, and bark.  No poison ivy though!  Haha!!  As we went, Grandpa was quizzing the girls on what kind of trees or leaves we came across.  Nanna is holding a giant Tulip Poplar leaf, our state tree.
 Isn't this a pretty fungus?  I never thought of fungus as pretty.  This was growing up from a root that was under the ground.
 Nanna found a tree with a big hole in its trunk.  
 After we got back to the house, I fixed lunch while Grandma did her fun projects with the girls.  They made pictures and collages with some of the treasures they picked up on the trail.

 She also read them a book about "What if I were a tree?"  It was a cute story and very thought provoking.  Would you be happy to see the robin building her nest in you?  Would you be sad when you caught the little child's kite?

 Then we went to McCormick's Creek State Park, just about 15 minutes from Mom & Dad's house.  We enjoyed looking around the nature center again and posing for a few pictures.

 Then the girls and Grandpa hiked from the nature center to the creek where Erin took some beautiful pictures.

 We also made a quick stop at the falls before leaving the park.

 Leah glued buttons on her leaf to make a happy little man.
 The above picture is as you turn off the road into the driveway leading up to Mom & Dad's house.  The carpet of leaves is so thick that you have no idea there is a gravel driveway underneath.  It's a very beautiful and peaceful setting.
 I started a fire in the fireplace when we got back.  Then after supper we roasted some marshmallows for dessert.
Erin has the art of roasting marshmallows perfected.  Mmmm!!!  So good!!!

We had a great time today and learned a lot.  Not all of the girls knew that a sassafras tree has 3 completely different shapes of leaves on one tree.  They learned that fact on our morning hike.  Then when we went to the nature center in the afternoon, that was one of the questions on one of the games there.  They answered every question correctly about Indiana trees.  Job well done!


  1. How Fun!
    BTW I love Leah's hair cut.....So cute!

    ~Marissa Ballenger

  2. Marvelous post and such wonderful memories for the girls! Thanks for sharing!