Category Archives: Field Trips & Parks & Travels

Learning To Draw By The Sea

The ocean is an amazing thing.   Did you know water covers over 70% of the earth’s surface?  Scientists claim they have only explored 5% of the ocean so far.  That leaves a whole lot of mystery about this beautiful habitat that is so vital to the world in so many ways.  I would encourage everyone to visit the ocean at least once if they get the opportunity. Your senses will be overwhelmed and rejuvenated by the experience.

It is amazing to listening to the roar of the waves, get your feet wet or go for a swim, wait and watch for fish or dolphins to breach the surface, to observe birds swooping down to catch a fish, or sighting an occasional fishing boat out to sea.  The ocean is always changing and you could spend hours watching it.

Our family loves to visit the ocean!  We are usually blessed to take a day drive and visit the sea a couple of times a year.  Sometimes we drive several hours just to get out and walk the beach and splash in the waves for two hours and then get back in the vehicle and drive several more hours back home. Depending on which beach we visit, it takes us about 4 hours to get to the closest one.  It is a long ways to drive, but it is free to use the public beaches. If we pack a cooler with food and water, then the only cost involved is the fuel to drive there.  With a large family, getting to do something fun for FREE is a big deal.

On a few occasions, we have been blessed with the opportunity to spend the night instead of driving there and back all in one day.  Those overnight experiences by the sea have been exceptional.  It is hard to describe the amazing way you feel when you wake up to the ocean, and get up with the sun rise, spend the day in the salty air, then get to observe the sunset, and listen to the waves in the dark of night as the stars twinkle overhead.  It is wonderful!

Learning To Draw By The Sea.

We recently had the opportunity to stay overnight on a visit to the ocean. We spent the morning and evening playing on the beach, but in the heat of the day, we needed something else to do to avoid getting a serious sunburn.   We did not bring electronic games or computers that are part of our normal homeschooling day.  Instead, we played board games like chess, put together fun puzzles, and spent part of our time learning to draw with the art kits we recently made.

It was so nice to have our portable DIY Art Kits.  Be sure to check the story with information on how to make one for your family.

The kits were small enough to go just about anywhere with us, yet they were big enough to hold just about everything we needed.

For some reason that I can’t remember, I didn’t get pictures of the kids drawing.  I guess I must have been so excited about the view, and the opportunity to sit there and draw, that I failed to get up and take pictures of what the others were making too.

For this project, I used the watercolor pencils.  I had hoped to make a project with paints too, but I didn’t have time to accomplish both on this trip.  My older son chose to use charcoal pencils from his kit, and the younger kids used crayons.  I pulled out a small table onto the porch to hold my drawing pad and pencils.

It was a bit windy on this day.  I separated the pencils colors that I wanted to use from the case holding the pencils.  I set them beside my drawing pad, however the wind kept blowing them off and I was constantly having to get up and down to catch a pencil before it rolled off the porch.  I realized the next time I take this art kit on a trip, I will need to bring something better to hold the colors I am using.  Perhaps something as simple as a rubber band or a small tray with sides would have solved my problem.

From the porch where I sat, I could see a long ways in the distance across the ocean and the beach up and down the coast.  To the front of me was ocean as far as I could see, and to the left was a small fishing vessel that soon disappeared while I was drawing.  I tried to capture both in my drawing.  The waves were the most difficult part to draw because they kept moving. Drawing the ocean wasn’t easy because even though it appears the same, in reality each and every moment it keeps changing.

Learning to draw by the sea was fun and it is an experience our family will never forget.

“And God called the dry land Earth; and the gathering together of the waters called he Seas: and God saw that it was good.”  Genesis 1:10

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Boats, Birds, and Clams, OH MY!

This week we did a family fitness activity at a local park called Lake Julian.   In addition to a lake, it has a boat marina, a sail boat club, a rowing club, a playground, picnic shelters, and lots of wooded and natural areas to explore.  We visit this park several times through out the year because there is so much to see and do here.  It is a great place to observe the seasonal changes too.  Besides family time together, it is a fun place to explore natural science.



It was a beautiful day with bright sunshine and with a slight chill in the air.  There were a dozen or more fishing boats on the water. 



The kids and I spoke with one of the fishermen as he slowed his boat down not far off shore.  He was using a paddle to check the depth of the water in the shallow areas and checking out his trolling motor and gear.  We inquired about how the fishing was going.  He said he had not caught anything yet.

 

There were lots of sail boats on the water too.  The other side of the lake had more sail boats than I could count.  They looked so beautiful.  Their large white sails were such a contrast against the winter backdrop of “hibernating” trees and the blue water of the lake.  It was amazing to watch the sails catch the wind and push the boats along in the water. 



We spent some time feeding and observing the birds on the water.  There were several varieties of ducks, geese, and sea gulls.  The kids noticed that like the fishing boats and sail boats, ducks and geese can float on the water. They use their feet like the boat propeller to push themselves along in the water. Birds can take flight and sailboats do not fly, but there are similarities in both the sails and wings. The wings are similar to the sails on a sailboat because they can open and close and catch the wind to glide along. 
 

The sea gulls were very competitive with the ducks and geese.  They had a distinct advantage of speed and craftiness.  They would fly high in the air, swoop down fast to the water and steel the food away from the ducks and geese.  The kids remarked how the sea gulls could fly both quickly and slowly depending on how they held out their wings and the placement of their feet.  They are true pirates of the air and water.



We had so much fun feeding and watching the birds on the lake.

 

Then being the hands on young scientists we are, we had a great time exploring near the shore.  We walked quite a distance of shore line, noticing small changes, observing the water, rocks, waves, plants, wind, and various birds.

 

The kids hoped to find small fish and crayfish.  They used a small stick to poke around small pools near rocks.  They lifted a few rocks to see if they could entice a crayfish out of hiding.



We did not find crayfish today, and we only saw one small fish.  We hypothesized (guessed) that we did not see lots of small fish, because it is not yet spawning season.  The fish count in the lake may be low this time of year, and most of the small fish may have been eaten through the winter months by the bigger fish and birds.

We did however find lots of other treasures.   We found moss growing on rocks.  And feathers left by the birds. We found some goose poop too (no picture).  The kids were fascinated with different rocks and the contrasting soft texture of the feathers.

 

Check out these fresh water clam shells.  Some of the shells were separated from each other and laying side by side in the water, and some others we found in the water were still attached to each other.  

 

The kids wanted to know what the animal that lives inside of the shell looks like.  They also wanted to know where the clams went and why these shells were left behind? So we decided we would investigate more about fresh water clams when we returned home.

 

We observed the ducks feeding on fish and plants.  They bent forward and dipped their heads and upper bodies under water to reach for food. This also gave the children a closer view of the ducks webbed feet they use for swimming. 



The mallard ducks were a little pre-occupied with competing for a mate to care about the children throwing out bread to them, or the sea gulls stealing the bread.  The geese and the wood
ducks were obviously offended by the sea gulls and squawked at them when they swooped in. There were hundreds of birds on the lake today. Aren’t these ducks gorgeous?




For More Information About Fresh Water Clams:
               
Definitions, classifications, and pictures
                Images 
                Fact Sheet
                Coloring Pages



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