July 9, 2013

Real Life Homeschooling for July 9th

{Real Life Homeschooling} is all about experiencing life and learning from DOING---and this week I'm going to show you how we learned about nature---by visiting a wildlife refuge near my parents home while on vacation back in Washington!

When I was growing up, this land was just open land. It was along the Highway 14 as you left our small town of Washougal and began your trek up the Columbia River Gorge (Washington side).  It was owned by someone and we knew that no one really lived there. But people would go hunting and fishing and walking and jogging. It was beautiful even then. Then some scientists came in (after I had moved away) and said "Wow! We need to protect this area!" and with that, it turned into Steigerwald Lake National Wildlife Refuge.

Now it is even MORE beautiful because it is so well maintained. No bikes or motorized vehicles are allowed. Just you and your legs. When it was first put together there was a nice wooden walkway...but then according to my dad, it burned (last year?) and the funding hasn't been given to redo it...so it's just a gravel path. But that's okay because you are just mosey-ing along anyways.

On the day we visited it was still early (ish) and the sun was out and there wasn't a cloud in the sky...it was ideal. So my dad and I loaded up the boys and we drove the 10 minutes to get there. My dad (aka Papa) gave each boy a set of binoculars which tickled them pink.
You can see that Baby Britches thinks the big end is obviously the end to look through. In fact we kept trying to show him how to use them...but the response was always "Me! No help, mommy!" and so we didn't help and he was perfectly happy. LOL!

Little Britches enjoyed the time with his Papa. They talked all about what they saw and Papa asked him open ended questions about what he thought about different things--from what kind of animal made a certain sound they heard to what kind of animal would make a path through the grass. My dad has lived in this area of the country--in this town pretty much his entire life. He lives for the outdoors--so he is a WEALTH of knowledge when it comes to all things nature. This makes him the perfect nature "guide".

The path led us past several little marshes and wetlands. We saw ducks land on this strip of water..."duck! Duck! kack kack!" Baby Britches declared.

Baby Britches enjoyed a ride from Papa while looking through his binoculars...

And it's so pretty to see Mt. Hood off in the distance...easy to do on a gorgeous day like this.

"Me! Me!"--acknowledging that he sees the mountain too.

Checking for ducks...

Eventually we got to the lake...and this lovely bridge. We stopped here for quite awhile to take note of what we saw. 

Sparkling waters covered in lilypads...adult and baby dragonflies flitting around...

And big fat toads just basking in the sun. Oh wait. Turtles bask. Do toads bask too? Well this one sure did. Do you see him?? He's in the middle of the photo. He just stayed here in this spot for a good 15 minutes. Not even a blink. Then *sploosh* he dove under the lilypad and swam to a new spot. It was a game to see if we could find him. Then we looked hard and discovered there were LOTS of toads hiding! An excellent lesson on camouflage.

We stayed for quite awhile before we turned to go back. On the way back we tried to figure out how many different birds we heard. I think we decided that we heard 10 or so different calls.

On our way TO the lake we also startled a mama doe with a little fawn. And when I say little--I mean LITTLE! My dad thinks it was newly born--no bigger than a dog. In fact, Baby Britches told us "No deer. Puppy." He would not believe it was a baby deer. LOL! He even told my mom that he saw a "Puppy!" And we had to clarify.

The most unusual thing I saw was a Grebe. A grebe is a fresh-water diving bird...nothing extremely impressive except that it croaks. Yes. It sounds like a bull-frog. That was highly irregular coming from a bird. But kind of cool.

Something else I really liked about this refuge is that at the entrance there is a whiteboard covered with a piece of plexiglass---and if you sight something, you can write it down. If we hadn't of been in a hurry, we could have written down several different creatures as it was still blank when we left.

It was a lovely nature walk--especially since it was in a completely different part of the country from what the boys are used to. For me, it was just a trip back to what I grew up with...it was delightful!

We hope you will take a chance to add YOUR Real Life Homeschooling experience to our blog hop! And don't forget to stop in at some of the other links in the hop...perhaps you could get a new idea for a Real Life Homeschooling adventure!

Have a blessed day!

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