Days They are A-changing:
Learning to be Observers
How do you
and the world around you change as your tulips begin to grow and flower?
You might be surprised to learn that with each day that passes your
world changes ever so slightly. Using your eyes, your ears, and even
your sense of touch you can observe and investigate spring as it advances
through your hometown. Follow along and make the most of your springtime
observations this year.
out of the ground might be the first highlight that signals springtime.
But, wait, is this true? Whether you are awaiting the emerging of your
tulips or already watching them grow out of the garden bed you can begin
to open your senses to springtime Phenology.
the relations between climate and periodic biological phenomena (as bird
migration or plant flowering)
Did you ever think that a tulip once securely planted
in a cold and frozen winter bed will one day pop out of that soil? What
makes that happen? What is going on around the rest of the schoolyard?
Are any of these things related?
Take a daily or weekly walk outside and gather information to help you become
better observers of spring. As you observe ask yourself some questions: What
do you notice about...? How is it different than...? What did you observe that
leads you to think...? Good questions can help you to examine real evidence.
Each time you go outside to observe your tulips and other phenology related
to spring focus on something special. Take the time to observe closely. Use
your journals to record descriptions and pictures. Challenge yourself to make
5 new observations each time.
Before you go out the first time brainstorm with your class and list all the
kinds of observations and measurements you can make to capture the changes in
the world around you. Make a chart and post it in the classroom as a reminder
throughout the season.
Each time you observe you will notice that things have changed. Watch for changes
and think about how they may be related.
What can your class add to this list of things to observe and measure?
the Tulip Garden:
growth rate (measuring the change over time)
leaf and stem color
of disease or pests
the School Yard:
leafing out: measuring leaf size
of birds at the feeders
around the house
and sunset times, daylength
temperatures, high and low
This: Using Your Observations
a graph showing daylength as time passes this spring. Add your observations
to it on the proper dates and formulate a theory that supports what
there a time when it suddenly warmed up enough for you to wear shorts
for a few days? What other phenomena did you observe during that
time? How are these things related?
and contrast the growth rates of your tulips with any of the other
observations you made (ex. number of birds you counted, high daytime
your observations into a timeline and evaluate what you see.
This: Focusing on the Details
observe your tulips with just one of your senses and
write or draw about it in as much detail as possible. Now add another
sense, then another with descriptions. Later discuss how your descriptions
that you are an insect observing a particular plant or plant part.
Visualize how you would see things differently and record your ideas
a hand lens to get up-close to a plant and sketch what you see. Try
an art lesson: Visit Focusing
With O'Keefe on the Detail