Wonderful Wednesday – Prickly Lettuce

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Another weed I have been going by on my walks is the prickly lettuce. Thanks to Barbara from this blog, now I know what this plant is. Apparently, we could even eat it and use it for medicinal purposes, but I will not try that any time soon. I am not that brave.

It’s just good to know names of plants I go by though. I took the kids on a short nature walk to show them this plant just past our neighbor’s house. They drew it and filled out the rest of their notebook page.

Boy and girl sketching a prickly lettuce

My children sketching a prickly lettuce on our street

We split open the stem to see the milk inside, but it had dried up. I guess we got to it too late in the season. However, it was not too late to observe the seeds and the dandelion-like white puffed up flower.  Continue reading »

Something happened inside my children’s psyche once I asked them to sketch the prickly lettuce. At first, my son complained that there was no chair or table to steady his clipboard. I showed him our neighbor’s fence and he was satisfied to use it as a table. My daughter simply sat down on the pavement and started drawing, although she complained she did not know how to draw it. Would I help her?

I am no artist, and I am not being modest here. But I started drawing the stem (a vertical line next to another vertical line) and then a curved line to the side, for the flower, and I continued with two vertical lines on either side of the curve and united both these vertical lines with another curved line at the bottom.

My daughter got what I was doing. She asked for the pencil back. I inspired her enough to start sketching on her own. Folks, if I can inspire my children to sketch a plant, anybody can.

Oh, the other notebooking page I had brought along was “Signs of Autumn,” from the same blog mentioned above, where we have a membership. They were supposed to draw four things they observed in nature, which clearly showed autumn had arrived. We discussed it for a bit, as they were not quite sure what to draw. We came up with falling leaves, leaves on the ground, corn fields, rain and apples.

We got back home, I filed their notebook pages in their nature journal and did not think I much about it. The following morning, my children went into our school room of their own free will, grabbed paper and pencils and started sketching everything they could think of. My son has this sketch book with cars and he made several pages with shading and perspective. My daughter likes Draw Write Now and she pulled out all the volumes until she found a groundhog. But she also sketched a few other things, just scenes she imagined.

Boy and girl sketching in nature

It was hard to get them started, but the results paid off.

Art amazes me again and again. The slightest exposure to a painting or to the artistic process awakens something inside of us – the creative gene that was put in us. As I was walking around the house the morning following our first sketching trip for the prickly lettuce, I was making a mental note of this time I needed to record as “arts and crafts” in their school journal.

My husband asked me, “How did you get the kids to be so quiet?” I replied, “I didn’t. They just went into the school room and started drawing of their own free will.”

Girl playing with caterpillar

Playing with a caterpillar

The other by-product of this nature walk was a meeting with a caterpillar. My daughter stopped walking, put her clipboard on the floor, and let this caterpillar crawl onto her hand. She loves caterpillars. After playing with it for a bit, she let it crawl back into its natural habitat.


Wonderful Wednesday – Jewelweed

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I told you I invested in the Ultimate Naturalist Membership Level at this blog about nature studies. I am going through this year trying it out, seeing how it all fits in with our goals. I know I want my kids to learn as much as possible from nature: rocks, plants, animals, insects – they are all important.

We received so many ebooks and notebooking pages, it is quite possible we will spend years going through these materials. But, for now, it is one weekly lesson at a time.

Boy and girl studying jewelweed

Watching a youtube video about jewelweed, just before working on their notebooking page.

Last week, we looked at jewelweed. The week before that, it was catfish. While we did not get to go fishing for a catfish, or observe one in a river, we watched the suggested nature videos from youtube. It is a bit disappointing when you cannot study your subject up close and personal.  Continue reading »

So I was glad when, on one of my walks through my neighborhood, I spotted jewelweed and lots of it.

Boy and girl looking at jewelweed plants

Looking at jewelweed on the side of our road

It was so delightful to show it to my kids – as I brought some home. They loved looking at it. We worked through the text in Handbook of Nature Study and then through the suggested videos. It really is like a curriculum. And you don’t have to have a membership with this blog, either.

In her generosity, this blogger shares these lessons with all her readers every Friday, on her blog. It’s just that you don’t get the coloring or notebooking pages which come with the membership. Sometimes there are other worksheets, like organizational and goal setting sheets.

Girl looks at jewelweed plants

My daughter stooped low to look at jewelweed plants closely.

It just so happened that a few days before, an insect had managed to bite me on one of my fingers. The itching was unbearable. When I read that jewelweed works not only against poison ivy but also against any kind of insect bite or skin irritation, I quickly rubbed some of the juice from the stem on my bite. Would you believe the itching stopped in five minutes and the bite dried up in a couple of days with no need for more hydrocortizone cream?

My husband said, “I have lived here all my life, I have gone by that plant every year, never knowing its name or what it can do.” I felt good this city girl from Europe could show him something new in his backyard.