We are participating in the Texas Nature Challenge again this year. There are missions at 32 different nature locations in our area. We started our challenge this year with some friends at Bob Jones Nature Center and Preserve in Southlake. It's a great place to go on nature walks with children. The path is only about a mile and there are lots of different habitats and features to look at and explore. For our nature mission, we are will stop by the Nature Center to pick up a container to collect various artifacts that we find at stations along the trail. Some of the artifacts at the stations include leaves, branches, seedpods, rocks, tracks and more items that represent the flora, fauna, and geology of the Cross Timber ecosystem. Once we finish the trail, we will go to the patio at the Nature Center and arrange the collection of artifacts within that frame to create a unique piece of natural art. Here's the map of the trail and the stations in the mission:
Nicholas was quick to find goodies for his collection bag.
Rachel enjoyed dragging her empty bag behind her.
The nature stations were well organized. This station was labeled "Trees" and contained a collection of branches, leaves,and seedpods. The kids chose their favorite pieces from this station and put them in their bags.
There are plenty of benches along the trail and this was the perfect spot for our lunch.
We said "Hi" to some people on horses that were following another trail on the adjoining property. Rachel had fun climbing up and down the fence between the properties.
I love going on nature walks with kids. As long as they understand that basic rules of the trail, it's wonderful to be able to let them just wander and explore on their own (within sight and reasonable distance, of course!)
Reasonable distances are shorter for the smaller children.
We made our way back to the pond. We were amazed how low the water level was and talked about the markings around the bank that showed the previous water levels.
Here is the "Grass" station complete with mutliple types of dried grasses and an idenitification card to help learn the names of the grasses.
Watch out! Look at the size of the thorns on this tree! They are about 2-3 inches long.
Rachel enjoyed reading the many identifying labels for the trees around the property. She points to the words and says random letters of the alphabet.
Nicholas and his friend were really good about sharing their discoveries and explorations with Rachel. She felt pretty special.
This station had really cool finds. There were feathers and snake skins...
...animal tracks in plaster of paris...
...and even a wasp nest!
Rachel collected some things at the nature stations but she was more interested in walking and exploring. What a great way to have fun while getting some good exercise.
The geology station had rocks, sand, and shells. Rachel enjoyed just feeling all the different textures on each of the items....smooth, bumpy, gritty...
We completed all of the nature stations and headed back to the Nature Center.
Before we went inside, we played in the digging station - a big tray filled with dirt and digging tools.
As the kids dug in the dirt, they found interesting worms, bugs, and critters like the one below.
Besides the created finds in the digging station, Nicholas found this cool bug body part!
We finally made it back into the Nature Center. Nicholas put his frame on a table and enjoyed dumping his bag of goodies into the frame.
He created his natural masterpiece. Ta-dah!
I love the art work that our friend made. There was a lot of different materials used, particularly sand which added an extra layer of texture to the picture. Nice!
We spent a little time just looking around the Nature Center. Nicholas loves this cool snake...dead and stuffed, of course!
Rachel enjoyed the paper mache caterpillar. This would be a fun project to do at home...but maybe on a smaller scale!
The Bob Jones Nature Center and Preserve is located at 355 E. Bob Jones Rd in Southlake, TX. For more information, please call them at 817-491-6333 or visit the Bob Jones Nature Center website.