My plan this week was for us to spend some time observing the winter sky, both day and night, but with the temperatures staying in the low single digits for HIGHS and negative DOUBLE digits for lows soon after the sun set, I decided to wait for some less BONE-NUMBING weather. So, we started a conifer tree study with pine trees right in our yard!
We trudged through the packed snow to look closely at a stately, old pine tree in our side yard as well as a young pine tree next to it - Eastern White Pines (Pinus strobus L.) Maine is known as "The Pine Tree State" and these trees are our State Tree. How nice that we have BOTH an old and a young pine tree to compare barks and shape!
|Eastern Pine - Yard Side|
|Eastern Pine - Road Side|
The Eastern Pine has clusters of 5 3-5 inch needle-shaped leaves that do not change colors or fall off in the Autumn months. (It's an evergreen.) It has cylindrical 4-8 inch long brown cones that take 2 years to mature and release seeds. Pine trees are used in furniture and cabinet-making and the pulp is used for ceiling tiles and paper.
|Cones (Taken this Summer)|
After making bark rubbings (with typing paper and the sides of crayons) and taking a single cluster of needles for our notebooking pages, we settled inside with Hot Cocoa and learned about our pine trees from Forest Trees of Maine (Department of Conservation Forest Services - Maine) book.
[Extra Tidbit: This book is AWESOME! It's VERY easy to use as a tree identification guide and has full-color photos of the tree, bark and leaves with written information and is broken down into specific types of trees such as pines and maples. If you live in Maine or New England, check it out for FREE at the Maine Forest Service! Click on the .pdf files on the left side.]
We read and learned about the parts of all trees, making a diagram on our notebook pages, then added our own pine tree drawings, needle-shaped leaves and bark rubbings. (For free nature study printables, visit the Handbook of Nature Study blog.) Here are our finished notebooking pages:
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