Summer is in full swing here in the Northern Hemisphere. Here are some simple ways to study nature with your family.
Many plants are in full bloom, whilst many are well on the way to producing seeds. Why not take this opportunity to learn the parts of a flower, and how plants are pollinated? Learn about the many ways that seeds are dispersed.
Observe the plants that are home to insects: Rose Bay Willow Herb is food for the Elephant Hawkmoth caterpillar, Ragwort for the Cinnabar Caterpillar, Milkweed hosts the Monarchs. (Please be aware that Ragwort is a poisonous plant)
July 15th is St. Swithin’s Day. Saint Swinthin, or more correctly, Saint Swithun, was an Anglo-Saxon Bishop of England during the ninth century. He was known for his humble and generous nature, and legend tells us that he requested to be buried modestly, outside the cathedral. Much later, the cathedral was rebuilt, and there was an attempt to move his remains to a special shrine within the cathedral. The move was delayed by a severe rain storm, and it is believed this storm is the origin of the old wives’ tale that if there is rain on St. Swithin’s day, then it will rain for the following forty days. However, if it is dry on St. Swithin’s day, then the next forty days will be fine.
Consider keeping a record of the weather to see if this old legend bears out! My children always really enjoyed this activity. Do let me know your findings. You can also use this opportunity to measure daily temperatures, rainfall, wind direction and so forth. An excellent opportunity to keep up with a little maths during the summer holidays!
The clear skies of summer can make for perfect star gazing. This is also the time to be observing the Perseid meteor shower around the 17th July to 24th of August, where it can be possible to see upward of 100 meteors an hour!
July’s full moon has just passed, the next full moon being the 7th of August, which coincides with a partial lunar eclipse! Consider taking an evening family nature walk in the light of the full moon, and perhaps enjoying a picnic supper. (Full moons always rise near sunset.)
Why not celebrate Lammas Day this year? Also known as The Feast of First Fruits, Lammas (the name comes from the Anglo-Saxon hlaf-mas, or “loaf-mass”), is celebrated traditionally between the 1st of August and 1st of September, and is a harvest festival. It was once customary to bring bread made from the first crop to church.
Enjoy hunting for blackberries, blueberries, wild strawberries and raspberries, or visit a local farm to pick your own. Some places even have berry festivals! Take part on your own local harvest festival, and begin to look for the first signs that autumn is approaching.
If you would like further inspiration, do take a look at Exploring Nature With Children, which has topics on St. Swithin’s Day & weather, the night time sky, seed dispersal, and topics for forty-eight weeks of themed and guided nature study; four weeks for each month of the year, organised by season. Exploring Nature With Children can be used as a whole year’s study, or dipped in and out of as you please.