Nature Study: Cicadas

While doing my not-nearly-frequent-enough pass with the vacuum cleaner upstairs, I happened upon a dead mosquito on the floor. What luck! Immediately I called Silas in to preserve the specimen for viewing. We spent a delightful afternoon recording our observations and asking all sorts of questions. Doing so made me realize that it's been a whole year (!) since our last focused nature study and I never did get around to writing about that one (!!). Hard to believe, right? I mean, it's not like I had a new baby or an impending move or anything like that to keep me busy. *ahem*

Late last summer Silas became really obsessed with cicadas. Every morning he would take his little collection jar outside and gather all the "shells" that he could find. This collection was so important to him, I should note, that it made the move and is currently sitting on top of his dresser in our new house.

Most of our study consisted of really close observation. We listened as they sang us to sleep every night. We used a hand lens to look at the shells and other cicada parts that we happened to find outside and then drew them. We spent a glorious morning with some friends at the Natural History Museum looking at the specimens housed there and drawing what we saw.

We also read books, our favorites being Cicadas by Squire and Cicadas Strange and Wonderful by Pringle. Right after the trip to the museum we made a pinch drum, which is a wonderful model of how a cicada makes its sound. We folded origami cicadas. Well, I folded and Silas played. He was only 4 at the time.

There are many, many cicada videos online, but we especially liked this snippet from the longer documentary The Return of the Cicadas. Cicada Mania is a pretty comprehensive resource that I used to better educate myself so that I could more effectively guide Silas' learning. He also decided to dress as a cicada for Halloween that year and so there was a lot of practical work in translating his drawings into a costume. The construction of the wings was an especially beautiful process.

We looked closely at cicadas for about a month. I had grand plans of doing a different in-depth nature study each month, but things just didn't shake out this way. We're so excited to be getting back to it, though. I can't wait to see what we learn about mosquitoes!

1 comment:

  1. How exciting it must be to have Courtney as your mama!!!