Sunday, October 24, 2010

Our Family Nature Alphabet

So, I confess that this is completely a project in progress, but I'm posting about it anyway.

We recently started working on a family nature alphabet.  We intended to complete it while on vacation in Waupaca, Wisconsin in August, but it proved far more time consuming than we expected!  I think that is mainly because we really wanted to get it right rather than just settle... more on that in a bit.

At the Ozark Natural Science Center, we have a poster showing the alphabet as found on butterfly wings.  Here's a similar version:

I started thinking that it would be fun to do our own custom family version.  So, I chatted with Fred & Sophie about it and challenged them to start thinking about it on our family vacation this year, and we began with a hike at Hartman Creek State Park outside Waupaca, WI to look for our alphabet.

We found that it made sense to take a picture anytime we thought we saw a good version of a letter, and then we could replace it later if we found a clearer image.  Along the lines of getting it right versus settling, we knew that we could use something like this

as our letter A, but how much better was it if we waited for the perfect opportunity, such as this:

Hence the time-consuming part.  So, we're waiting and tackling this a bit at a time.  Here are a few more examples of our really stellar finds so far:



We're still undecided whether all of these will make the final cut, but we're building a good inventory.  And, it turns out that making this an ongoing project is half the fun, since it encourages all of us to look differently at the things we see every day.

We set a few basic criteria for our family project: the letter had to be clear and it had to occur in nature.  So, despite the fact that this is a fantastic outdoor X on an old wooden covered bridge, it doesn't make the cut:

Our only tips are to be patient, and to make sure your letter fills the viewfinder in your camera - you shouldn't be searching for it.  We also found that vertical rather than horizontal images work best, especially if you want to compile everything into a display like the butterfly poster.

It's been fun, thought it was worth sharing!  Other feedback and suggestions welcome!

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