Geography Quest: Forest Edition

Blog, She Wrote: Geography Quest- Forest Edition

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I adore a good walk in the woods and feel so privileged to live on the edge of parkland so we can enjoy walks in the woods any season just by walking about the door. There are so many things to discover in a forest. I thought it would be an enjoyable quest to learn about “the forest”. There are so many, join me to find out more.

Identify & Map the Types of Forest Around the United States

Do you know how much of the U.S. is forested? What kind of forests are located in the U.S.?

  • This map from the USDA Forestry Service, details the types of trees in the various regions oft the United States along with the history and conversation of forests.
  • Check out this map list which shows where specific species of trees are located.
  • Temperate Deciduous Forests & Temperate Coniferous Forests are the two main categories of forest in the continental US.
  • Identify, using the online maps linked above, the various forests around the United States and make a forest map. Don’t forget to make a key so you know which forest is where.

Map Forest Types Around the World

Information on forest types is available with a simple web search. In addition, you may find that information in a world atlas.

  • Make a color and keyed map displaying the location and type of forests around the world.
  • You might like focusing on forests by continent rather than using a world map so that you can get the details on the map more easily.
  • Note the climate of a region and how it relates to the forests. Does climate affect the types of trees which grow? Are there places without trees?

Resources for Exploring Forests

Thank you for joining me these last ten days for the Autumn 2013 Hopscotch from iHN. I still have one more post in the series on the way. Stay tuned!


Geography Quest: Bird Migration Editon

Blog, She Wrote: Geography Quest- Bird Migration Edition

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Today’s Geography Quest is all about bird migration. Choose a well known migrating bird or several species and track their movement south for the winter.

What is Bird Migration?

Most of us are familiar with birds coming and going for the winter. Do you know the specifics? Take some time to learn about which birds migrate and where they go.

  • Why do birds migrate?
  • Which birds migrate? Use your field guide to learn which birds migrate.
  • Where do the birds go?
  • What signals do birds follow that tell them when it’s time to leave and when to return?

Blog, She Wrote: Geography Quest- Bird Migration

Map Bird Migration

  • Choose a favorite bird species to follow and find out their migration path.
  • Research typical migration paths for birds.
  • Compare the migration of several species. Make maps for each one and see what is similar and what is different.
  • Calculate the distance that bird species will travel to make sure they have resources.

Blog, She Wrote: Geography Quest- Bird Migration Edition

What Are Some Obstacles to Bird Migration?

  • Light pollution- the lights from cities can confuse birds because they rely on natural signals to find their way.
  • Power lines
  • Buildings- particularly tall windowed structures in cities
  • Predators
  • Wind Mills - the large ones made for making electricity

Blog, She Wrote: Geography Quest- Bird Migration Edition

Observe Bird Migration

  • Do you keep a list of the birds you see? During the migration times, see if you find new birds at your feeder or in your yard.
  • Notice the behavior of Canada Geese. They stop pairing off when they fly and fly in large groups. At the close of summer, once this starts happening, you know that they are leaving town.
  • Take notice of the birds which hang out once you notice the songbirds are gone- when the migrators are in town, we see less of our winter birds though there are always some around. I always know that common summer birds are on the move when I start seeing our winter friends more often.
  • Research locations where you can observe large scale migration. Here in NY, there is a spot north of here where raptors are known to gather as they migrate. We hope to catch that one year.

If you are paying attention, very often you will see birds while they are on the migration as they are passing through. Do you see birds you don’t normally see? Once spring is on the way, be on the alert for signs that the birds are returning.

Resources for Tracking Birds

  • Field Guides- so you can identify birds that you see. I like Birds of New York and the accompanying CD. The same author has prepared books for other states. See if there is one for your state.
  • Bird Call CDs- great for road trips and calls are a great way to identify birds nearby.
  • iBird Pro- an app for both iPhones/iPads and Android devices. This is a paid app, but I bought it on sale and it’s really comprehensive. Just be careful not to use the call too often outsides as it will distract birds from the business of survival when they respond to your fake call.
  • Winged Migration- a book and program all about birds on the move. They have a junior edition as well with a call CD. I checked one out from the library last night.
  • Planet Earth- a DVD series from the BBC which has information on biomes around the world often referring to large bird migrations. Those of you with Amazon Prime can watch instantly. Nice. We own this one and it’s been a great resource.

Pay attention to the habits of birds which stay year-round as well. Once the migrators leave, they move around. I normally don’t see cedar waxwings during the summer, but once the leaves are all gone, they will swoop down on some berry bushes next to our house. Then they are off…probably stopping by on their way to their winter territory.


Geography Quest: Daniel Boone Edition

Blog, She Wrote: Geography Quest- Daniel Boone Edition

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Welcome to the second week of the Autumn, 2013 iHN Hopscotch. We’ll be continuing with another five days of Geography Quests. Join us today for a little Quest involving one of our favorite American Heroes, Daniel Boone.

Learn about The Pennsylvania Wilderness with Daniel Boone

  • Identify the Pennsylvania wilderness at the time of Daniel Boone.
  • Name the places where Daniel Boone regularly visited in PA.
  • Read about how Daniel Boone became an excellent tracker.
  • How did Daniel Boone make a living? How did that foreshadow his future endeavors?

Follow the Wilderness Trail with Daniel Boone

  • Daniel Boone Wilderness Trail- The Association has a website you can explore to find out the route of the trail which connected the land along the east and west of the Appalachian Mountains.
  • Map of the Wilderness Trail- an interactive map along with a tour of the historical sites along the way
  • Map and Mark the Wilderness Trail on state maps and/or regional US maps- for a detailed map it would be fun to print the states that trail goes through and tape them together so you can mark the trail with detail and hang it up.

Enjoy a “History Bill” video about Daniel Boone and how he helped settlers move through the wilderness.

Resources to Learn More about Daniel Boone

Thank you for stopping by. Join us tomorrow for another Geography Quest. Be sure to subscribe via email to get all the Quests in your inbox!


Geography Quest: Snake Pit Edition

Blog, She Wrote: Geography Quest- Snake Pit Edition

Today’s Geography Quest is inspired by a project R13 took on at the start of summer- a snake. We found a pile of garter snakes at the foot of our mailbox under some rocks and she asked to keep one. The rest, as they say, is history.

The Snake Project

Throughout the summer, R13 has been caring for her snake- actually it started out as the family snake, but very quickly it was obvious that R was the one who was catching slugs and worms to feed him and it became her snake.

As we approached the new school year and I thought about her science course, I consulted with her and she decided to take on The Snake Project- Project Based Homeschool style for the first quarter. If she is on task with the project and still has more ground to cover, I’m willing to see it through another quarter. This is entirely student driven and I step in as a consultant at times.

So far she’s been checking items off of her list. Here’s just a snippet of what she’s been researching:

  • anatomy and physiology of snakes
  • habitat
  • types of snakes and classification
  • care of snakes- in particular she’s been reading about brumation (hibernation of reptiles) in preparation for winter. Will Clyde the snake be placed so that he can brumate for the winter? Or will we arrange to feed him weekly from the pet store through the winter until his regular diet is available outdoors again.

More on R’s Snake Project another time. For now, let’s talk about the Geography Quest this study has inspired. Are you ready for adventure?

Blog, She Wrote: Geography Quest- Snake Pit Edition

Explore the Narcisse Snake Den in Manitoba, Canada

R13 became interested in the Narcisse den when she discovered the book, The Snake Scientist by Sy Montgomery. This great little book details the research of Bob Mason who was a scientist from Oregon State studying behavior of the snakes at the den.

I think it’s a unique, non-fiction, picture book because it tells how the scientists conduct the research detailing the methods of collection and the data they are trying to gather. It’s a peek into the work of a real life scientist and it’s all about garter snakes.

Blog, She Wrote: Geography Quest- Snake Pit Edition

I thought it would be a fun exploration to visit the snake pit on a Geography Quest. Snake lovers you are in for a treat! Visit Snakes Alive! page to learn all about Manitoba’s famous snake den.

You can read the Snake Log 2013 from 2013 to find out how the season went. The observation season is over now because the snakes have all returned to their dens for the winter.

What’s it like to have tens of thousands of snakes emerging at once out of the ground? Take a look at this video.

Want more videos? There’s a whole page of them to view at the Narcisse Snake Den site.

The Manitoba Herps Atlas- take a look and be part of the project that is mapping the species of reptiles and amphibians that live in Manitoba, Canada.

Search for and Investigate Other Snake Pits around The World

Are there more snake dens like this in the world? The Narcisse is the largest of its kind in the world, but surely there must be more places where snakes gather in large numbers. A very quick search revealed another spot.

Snake Island off the Brazil Coast- Lancehead viper snakes live here at about 1 per 3 feet. Given the viper’s deadly bite, you are never more than three feet away from death. We learned that people are forbidden to visit there (except for a few scientists) by order of the Brazilian Navy. Finding this gem led me to¬† Atlas Obscura. What a find! You can explore and share the world’s hidden wonders there. Warning: some of the information and attractions here may not be suitable for all ages.

Your challenge is to do some more research and find out where there are reported gatherings of large numbers of snakes and map them. We can let Indiana Jones know where not to go. He’s not a fan of snake pits. Are you?


Geography Quest: Safari

Blog, She Wrote: Geography Quest- Safari

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Have you ever wanted to go on a safari? How about a trip to the zoo? Today’s Geography Quest invites your students to map the origins of their favorite animals.

Map the Habitats of Your Favorite Animals

  • Make a list of your favorite animals
  • Find the range of each animal in an atlas or encyclopedia
  • Cut out pictures of the animals or draw them and place them on a world map (or a map of a particular continent depending on the animals on the list)
  • Mark and include a key for the terrain in the areas where your animal is found (mountain, desert, marine, etc)

Map Animal Populations around the World

High School or younger curious students can look up one species of animal and map its distribution across its habitat.

  • Choose a species to investigate- perhaps an endangered species
  • Research where these animals are found and in what numbers.
  • Mark and key the animal populations on a map.
  • Investigate a struggling species along with its threat- if it’s another animal species, map that one also and see if there is a correlation.

Mapping animal populations is a fun activity which can reveal a lot about climate and biology in addition to the geography of an area.

Thanks for joining us for the Autumn, 1013 Hopscotch from the iHomeschool Network. Sign up for Blog, She Wrote via email so you don’t miss any of the Geography Quests.