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Observing Nature - Earth Box Activity

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Observing Nature - Earth Box Activity

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Age: K-6th Grade, 7th to adult. Adapt observations to age level, e.g. Elementary students can be asked to point out seeds, while high school students can be asked to point out evidence of seed dispersal adaptations.

Materials: 


  1. A shallow box or tray

  2. Collected things from your yard, forest, field. Some suggested items are acorns, butternuts, maple seeds (especially if they have been chewed on by an animal), goldenrod gall, flower heads, dry leaves, bark, lichens, pine cones of different shapes and sizes, bones, snail shell, feathers, wasp nest, bird's nest, egg shells, chewed bark, etc.



Background Information: 
Though it may be difficult to come across animals out in nature, you can find animal signs wherever you go. Teaching kids to identify animal signs is a good observational exercise as is identifying different kinds of seeds, leaves, flowers, etc.



Activity Directions:

  1. Arrange your finds in a shallow box and have your students take turns observing them. There are several ways you can do this to get the most out of your Earth Box.
  2. They can silently identify and write down the different things they see in the box.
  3. They can take turns pointing out the different things they see in the box.
  4. You can make a list of things they need to find.
  5. You can ask questions that they can answer by looking in the box.For example, ask them to point out the things that are animals signs (snail shell, feather, chewed nut, gall, nest, bone, porcupine quill, etc.) or point out the seeds (maple seed, acorn, pine cones, catkins, flower heads, etc.).

Discussion: Discuss their findings and help them see what other things they are missing. Encourage them to observe things more closely and ask questions about that they are seeing.

For Example:

Things to add to the box broken down into three educational categories.

Find the Different Animals Signs:
    1) snail shell
    2) chewed acorn
    2) chewed black walnut
    4) stripped pine cone
    5) goldenrod gall
    6) porcupine quill
    7) bone
    8) wasp nest
    9) drilled bark
    10) butterfly
   
Find the Different Kinds of  Seeds:
    1) acorn
    2) black walnut
    3) maple seeds
    4) white pine cone (large cone)
    5) hemlock cone (medium-sized cone)
    6) spruce cone (small cone)
    7) Alder cones (tiny cones)
    8) flower head

Find the Different Plant Parts:
    1) spruce branch
    2) lichens
    3) moss
    4) golden rod stem
    5) flower heads
    6) tree leaves
    7) conifer cones
    8) bark

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Exploringnature.org has more than 2,000 illustrated animals. Read about them, color them, label them, learn to draw them.