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Noticing Nature – October

It’s amazing what you start to notice when you have a gentle reminder to be looking! This is the second post in my new series, Noticing Nature. If you didn’t get a chance to read the first one, check it out here for the backstory.

Standing in the checkout line at the grocery store, I noticed a brilliant bright green grasshopper on the window of the store. While moving patio chairs, I also saw a praying mantis. Later, I saw two cicada shells on my oak tree. I wasn’t on a walk in the woods, or having a bug study with the kids. I was doing everyday tasks. It’s amazing what you can see if it’s on your mind. I remember when I was pregnant, it seemed like everyone was pregnant! There were expectant women everywhere I looked. Similarly, when in the market for a new automobile, you start to notice that particular model you’re interested in all over town when you’ve never noticed them before. It’s interesting how the mind works. So it is with noticing nature.

Things I saw in my backyard this week….because I was looking.

Nature and technology

I’m not the most techie person, but I discovered something amazing through a friend’s Facebook post a few weeks ago. It’s a free app called Seek by iNaturalist. If you’ve never heard of it, stop reading this and start downloading it right now (but please come back)! I normally don’t go ga-ga over things my phone can do, because I really only use the basic features. This is better than sliced bread – way better! The best part is that teens love it! My daughter played around with it for hours the other day. We have learned so much! We’ve identified several plants, trees and grasses, insects, seashells, and even our pets – just to make sure they really are dogs and cats. The app even identified her Beta fish!

Screenshots from the Seek app

Teens love challenges, and there are monthly challenges and badges to collect based on your findings with the app. I love the fun facts and the map feature. This is a great app for families, and you will be amazed at how much you will learn. Recently, there was a bug on my carpet. Before I put it outside where it belongs, I opened up the Seek app. Wouldn’t you know it? It was a Two-lined Burrowing Bug trying its hardest to burrow into my carpet! We have had so much fun spotting things and finding out the actual names and information about things in and around the house. Download it today, and then read on to find other cool things to notice in October!

Things to notice in October

The following list is a few small things to take notice of. Use any of the links as a jumping off point for further study if you so choose. There’s also a free printable of the list at the end of this post!

Some links may also be an affiliate link. It’s a little way to help me, and cost no extra for you!

  • Migrating Birds – Fun facts about bird migration for everyone to enjoy. For NC residents, see if you can spot any Fall Birds of North Carolina.
  • Plant Bulbs – As much as I’ve admired the spring flowers from bulbs, I’ve never planted them. It’s on my list this month, and I will hopefully have pretty flowers this spring!
  • Spiders – I’ve already started spotting them around here. Here’s a great resource to identify them. See how many different ones you spot this month.
  • Spider Webs – learn about different webs with this terrific chart.
  • Capture a Web – teens love to take pictures, and photographing spider webs can be challenging. You can also capture one to preserve on paper (just make sure it is a vacant web)!
  • Stargazing – hunt for ice giants this month. I was going to wait until our astronomy unit later in the year, but I saw a sweet deal and just ordered this telescope!
  • Find out the peak leaf season in your area with this fantastic fall foliage prediction map.
  • Press Leaves – there are several ways to press leaves – try a few!
  • Teens and even adults are not too old to rake the leaves and jump in! Perhaps rake an elderly’s neighbor’s leaves while you’re at it.
  • After the leaves are gathered, consider composting them. An added benefit of jumping in them first is you are turning them into smaller pieces so they will break down faster!
  • Learn to identify trees – I’ve had this guide forever, and I love to take it out this time of year. I’ve always thought it was cool that my dad could name all the trees wherever we went.
  • Take a look at the base of trees for owl pellets! My daughter actually found one several years ago, and of course we dissected it. If you can’t find one in nature, order a few. They are fun for all ages!
  • Roast Pumpkin Seeds – they are so easy, and smell so good! Enjoy them around the firepit on a cool, crisp evening. You might as well have some smores, too! (I’ve purchased these roasting sticks for gifts!)

While this is certainly not an exhaustive list of things to notice in nature, I hope it will give you and your teens a good starting point for taking notice of the things outside and what’s going on in the world around them. My goal is to perhaps spark an interest in the great outdoors, and give teens an opportunity that often gets overlooked with their other academic studies. Be sure to check out my Pinterest Board – Let’s Get Outside in Nature for more ideas. If you would like this list as a free printable, it’s right below!

First, check out a few of my Usborne Books & More Favorites for fall! I’ve been a part-time consultant as long as I’ve been a homeschooler! I think they’re fantastic, and you might too. For a direct link to these titles in particular, click here.

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