Category Archives: Rivers and Streams

Latta Plantation Nature Preserve

On a recent family outing, we went to the Latta Plantation Nature Preserve near Huntersville, NC.  This is a free park with over 1300 acres to explore.  It has lots of nature trails, and is a natural setting to view a large variety of wildlife, plants, Mountain Island Lake, and the river.



Our kids had so much fun on this nature walk.  It has a paved path with beautiful mature trees, lots of under brush, and lots of wild life.



There was a nice variety of trees and many had already changed colors.  We quickly spotted oak trees, walnut trees, maple trees, and pine trees.  We plan to do a tree study soon so we can learn to spot other tree species too.

I found a plant I had never seen before, and plan to look this one up.  It had beautiful, unique, thick, bumpy, pink, outer shells the kind of resembled flowers, that opened to an orange smooth oblong shaped berry.  I am from the midwest (Kansas, and later Indiana) and this is not a plant I had ever seen before. 



I did not touch the plant just in case it was poisonous, but it was beautiful to observe.



There were lots of birds and plenty of squirrels.  The squirrels were feasting on walnuts, pine cone seeds, and acorns that literally covered the ground.



There were downed trees decomposing, and recycling themselves back into the earth.  There were lots of fallen leaves covering the ground too.  Signs of fall were all around us.

Then the path opened up to the water.  It was a beautiful view.



We strolled out onto a fishing dock. 



From this vantage point, you could see beautiful contrasts of the fall colors against the water and shoreline.



The clouds were amazing, and brewing up a fall rain storm.  It was a spectacular view.

 

Next, the children observed a variety of fresh water sea shells along the sandy shore.



They quickly started collecting as many shells as they could find.  They collected over a hundred shells and each put their find into a plastic bag to bring home. 

We plan to look at the shells closer at home, look at them under a microscope, wash them, draw them in our journals, perhaps use them in some other fun (math, art, and science) activities, and find out what animal had lived in them.  Homeschool adventures are so much fun!



Next, they got busy building.  At this point, I was tired from the walk.  I am eight and a half months pregnant, and running out of energy.  So I sat down at a picnic table to rest while I watched the kids play and explore some more.  The kids still had lots of energy.



They built mountains and lakes…



castles…



and motes.



We packed up to leave when the storm started to deliver rain.  We continued to explore several other sites nearby from our vehical despite the rain, and found many places we would like to go back and visit. 

It was a great day for discovering and playing in nature on this early fall day at the Latta Plantation Nature Preserve .


This post will be linked up with
No Time For Flash Cards
Science Sunday
ABC and 123
Play Academy
The Handbook Of Nature Study
Raising Homemakers


Highhill Homeschool

Please share.

Robert Lake Park Montreat NC


We ventured to a little town called Montreat, North Carolina for the 4th of July holiday.  My husband (the always observant to details) said he had never seen a town quite like this one.  It just seemed to dead end in the mountains and it was like going back in time. 

Once I got home and researched the town more, it is obvious why he felt that way.  The town deliberately discourages modernization.  There are not even any traffic lights.  But there is a whole lot here for families to enjoy.  Here is a map showing the location in a cove of the Blue Ridge Mountains. 
http://www.mapquest.com/?le=t&q=Montreat+NC&flv=1&vs=

I was so impressed by this special place.  We explored the college campus a little before going to the park to play.  The campus has several “castle” like buildings all made of beautiful rounded river stones and lovely arched walkways.  There was also a historical hotel made from the same stone materials just across from Swan Lake.

Also across from the park, was a basketball court, and below the park was an old fashioned baseball field.

Here is a link with more about the history of the town and all that it has to offer  http://www.townofmontreat.org/


The Park

Roberts Lake Park in Montreat, NC is truly an explorer kid’s paradise.  It combines the best of both the natural world and a playground. 

Tucked up in a cove just east of Asheville, North Carolina, and a few minutes north of Black Mountain, North Carolina, sits an oasis of discovery that any child would love.
(like that?  this place really made me feel poetic!)

Under the canopy of tall mountain trees and flowering bushes, rushes a beautiful cold mountain stream.  The stream meanders around large and small rounded rocks.  The sound of the bubbling water is welcoming and peaceful. 



Wooden bridges give a great vantage point to see the beauty of this stream from above.



I love to stand quietly and hear the sounds of the stream.



And take in all the life and beauty that surrounds it.



The playground is really two separate playgrounds divided by wooden bridges, and two meandering shallow streams.



What kid wouldn’t love playing “King Of The Castle” on these fun bridges?



We spent quite a bit of time playing on this large wooden castle like structure with spiral wooden stairs, three wooden bridges and three towers each with two levels to play on, and with lots of fun accessories too. 



My two year old was fascinated with going up the chain ladder, and then down the wavy slide, and spent nearly an hour repeating this sequence.



There were lots of other children at the park, I tried my best not to get them in the photos, but here is my son after being tagged by another child after he had escaped down the spiral slide only to be caught at the bottom and frozen.  So funny!!!



After playing, we cooled off in the shade with some ice cold water and a picnic lunch.  There is a very nice community building that has bathrooms to wash your hands and a living room area and pool tables, ping pong, foose ball, and access to the tennis court.   The tennis court cost $3 an hour, but everything else is free.

After eating our lunch,  we headed across the bridges to the much coveted water exploration fun in the streams.



This was definitely the highlight of the day. 



Off went the shoes and socks, and in went the kids.



In the background of the picture above, you can just see the second playground of two towers and a bridge surrounded by the streams.



The kids looked for minnows and crawdads.  There was another little boy playing with them too who brought a minnow net and a bucket and he caught several.  The kids were fascinated by this.  You had to sit very still and then slowly you could see the minnows come out of hiding and start to swim in the shallow pools.



Another fun activity my oldest son spent quite a lot of time doing, was adding rocks to the little damns, causing a slight increase in the amount of water in the little pools and creating little mini waterfalls as the water went up and over the rock damns. 



He is my little engineer, and he is always observing cause and effect, and loves to build. 



But little sister had fallen in a couple of the deeper pools all the way to her shoulders into the cold water several times, and she had to take some
short breaks on the side to warm up.  She was wet from head to toe.



We learned about so many fun things in the park today.  It was a great day of scientific exploration.  Besides hunting for fish and crawdads, we also observed how the water was cold compared to the warm summer air outside.  We observed how the water current constantly moved the stream, how it rounded and smoothed the surface of the rocks, and how it constantly forced the water over the rocks no matter how many rocks you added to the damn.  The very small rocks in the stream were so many different colors.  Some sparkled like gold.  The kids picked up several stones full of mica and perilite that shimmered in the water.  We also observed the mud near the edge of the stream.  But thankfully, fresh clear water was close by and we rinsed off easily. 



The kids dried off by playing a few more rounds of tag on the second playground. 



They thought this was super cool because its construction actually incorporated three very tall trees.  Besides playing in this “real tree” house,  and they could also see the streams from their high vantage point.



I think every kid probably leaves this park with a big ear to ear grin.





Videos

Once I got home and researched about Montreat, North Carolina, I found some nice video clips on Youtube.

Boys playing in the park http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Zb-Y7TpWbg

Conference center and history of Montreat 
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BhZZH6zlzTE&feature=related

A lady on her lunch break tells why she loves this place
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JigMAq-Ra8w&feature=related

The top of Grey Beard Trail  (there is 2500 acres of preserved wilderness in Montreat and lots of hiking trails).
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bIhSM7DJ_ns&feature=related

Part of a speech given by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. at  Montreat in 1965.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kF5VVPzcM9s




This post will be linked up with:
Science Sunday
No Time For Flash Cards
ABC and 123
The Play Academy
Raising Homemakers






Please share.