Getting your kids outside this summer can be as easy as choosing the right book to read with them.
The Trumpet of the Swan is one of E.B. White’s best stories. It also happens to be my middle boy’s favorite children’s book. Seriously, you can’t mention this book without him lighting up.
You can make it a favorite of your kids, too. Read it aloud with them this summer (because reading aloud rocks) and incorporate a pond study into it.
The Trumpet of the Swan
The Trumpet of the Swan is the story of Louis, a trumpeter swan who has no voice. In order too woo his true love, Louis tries many things. He learns to read and write, but that doesn’t help the other swans understand him. His father eventually steals a brass trumpet for Louis to use. Determined to pay off the debt, Louis journeys far from his wilderness home, but he keeps his joy and faith intact.
The story is wonderful, but the real goodness here is White’s in-depth descriptions of bird habits, ponds, spring, and other nature subjects. There’s real education to be had from this book. Also, it has an incredible lesson about embracing your own differences.A Pond Study is a fun way to read The Trumpet of the Swan outsideClick To Tweet
Supplies for a Pond Study
You can take your kids’ education a step further by making a pond study to go along with the book. The story is full of pond life, offering plenty of opportunities for further learning.
That’s what makes it such a great summer book.
So grab a copy and gather some supplies. Visit a local fishing hole or a public park that has a pond. And learn as much as you can. If you’re like us, you want to know everything.
Supplies you will need:
- Copy of The Trumpet of the Swan
- Magnifying glass
- Clippers or scissors
- Basket for gathering
- Books about pond life (suggested list below)
- Nature journals
- Insect catcher
- Pencils/crayons/colored pencils
- Dip net
- Specimen cups
Best Pond Study Books
This is one of our favorites. Perfectly pocket-sized, it contains a wealth of information about pond ecosystems and the plants and animals that inhabit ponds.
A good bird guide is essential to studying life at a pond. From waterfowl to nesting songbirds, you’ll see a lot of winged creatures. Make sure you have a good book from which you can learn more about the birds you see.
No way you can go to a pond in summer without seeing amphibians. We are serious fans of these Golden Guide pocket books for finding out exactly what we’re looking for, and this one is no different.
Dragonflies are another incredible creature you’re sure to see around a pond. This field guide features 300+ dragonflies and tells you how to identify them.
Trumpet of the Swan Pond Study
Once you have everything you need to take with you, head out to your pond and look specifically for things mentioned in the book. You could do a full summer science study with this book if you want.
You might get luckier if you can find a pond to visit that isn’t open to the public. There will be more to see at a pond that isn’t frequented by bunches of humans. However, a zoo pond is almost guaranteed to have swans, while you’re not as likely to see them on a private pond.
So do both. Visit a zoo where there will almost definitely be a swan on a pond and visit a private pond where you will see more variety of wildlife. You’re not going to read the whole book in one day.
Here’s a quick list of wildlife from The Trumpet of the Swan to get you started.
- Bird nests
- Red-Winged Blackbirds
Make your own daybook
Sam Beaver keeps a daybook in the story. His is a spiral notebook he keeps by his bed where he writes down his observations each day. My favorite part is that he ends each entry with a question–just something he would like to know the answer to.
As you study pond life, have your kids keep their own daybook. Tell them to write about their observations at the pond, what they’ve learned about its inhabitants, or how the outing made them feel.
It’s a good idea to have them write a journal entry about and/or draw a picture of each species as they learn about it. You can use a spiral notebook, an art journal, or even create your own using the ideas in this post.
Grab some free printables
I have several useful free printables that can help kick start your pond study. Grab one or all of them and include copies in your supply bag.
- Learn About Frogs and Toads
- Learn About Marshland
- Learn About Ducks and Molting
- Learn About Turtles
- Learn About Canada Geese
- Trees: A Nature Study
What are you waiting for? Get outside and read!
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