November 20, 2008

nature study :: milkweed

One exciting aspect of homeschooling is that I can learn alongside of my children! I am quite content with the fact that I don't have to know everything, and the information is out there as we need it. So when we recently acquired another treasure for our nature table, I was a little stumped in explaining the new beauty to the children.

"So, you guys, it's milkweed."
Said in a tentative tone.
"Is it dead?"

"Does it make milk like a cow? Can I drink it?"
"Why is this one empty and this one full...what's in here by the way!?"
"Where can we find it? Is it in our backyard?"

After a few questions, it was obvious that Mama didn't know enough. Promising to have more answers in 15 minutes, I hopped online while they played. Score!

:: videos on YouTube--an excellent three part series all on the milkweed plant in various seasons {each one is around 5 minutes}. My 10-yr old thought it too funny that each one begins with 'hey guys...'.

:: a great explanation of the relationship between monarch butterflies and the milkweed plant. Scroll to page 3 for info specifically on milkweed.

:: we found a page in our Fun With Nature book that offered info on milkweed bugs, which are now hibernating, so we'll look for them in Spring {click on the picture for a larger view}.

:: then we shared our own observations--
What does the outside feel like? {coconut shells--Jordyn, age 5}
How about the seeds inside? {my soft bear and blue blanket--Josiah, almost 3}

Josiah was quite fascinated with the fact that the seeds can fly and proceeded to take a handful and throw them 'HIGH UP IN THE AIR MOMMY!'. A soft landing:
which of course led to a quick discussion on how seeds get around :: dandelion and milkweed seeds have the common factor of the wind aiding their travels.

Whew. Hooray for the Internet!

And while I didn't know the ins and outs concerning the biology of the milkweed plant, I do have a fabulous craft idea brewing for those dried out pods. Now that I have no problem figuring out!

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