Meadowland and Woodland Nature Study


Welcome to week three of our one year nature study.  This week we focused on the small river which is found running through the woodland, bordering the meadow land.  The common lies atop impermeable clay which causes poor drainage during the wet months.  These woodlands contain two natural springs as well as three seasonal streams and one tributary brook.  There are also four ponds and a network of boundary and drainage ditches.  We will be looking at all of these waterways throughout the duration of our study and there is much to learn.

Today we are focusing on the tributary brook.  You may have noticed on my first post I received a message from one of Lorna’s children asking whether this waterway was in fact a brook, stream or river.  I wasn’t entirely sure, so we went to investigate.

The first day we went it was a glorious day.  On this day I simply let the children play.  They thoroughly enjoyed a few games of Pooh sticks and tried to spot any water animals:

river 1

As you can see, the river is tiny and very slow-moving:

river 2

It was a different story the next time we went.  It had been raining heavily for an hour or so and was moving much faster and was much fuller:

river 3

The older ones decoded to take a closer look and wandered down onto its bank:

river 4

…whilst the littles looked on, a little sad they hadn’t also worn wellies:

river 5

They went a bit deeper, walking in the direction of the flow:

river 6

As the river runs parallel to the meadow, they decided to investigate down the river a bit further:

river 7

whilst I walked across the meadow with the littles:

river 8

When we returned home, we changed out of our soaking wet clothes and into our panda onsies.  Nice and cosy!  I then asked the older children to investigate the difference between a stream, a brook and a river and to decide whether our river was any of the three and why.

According to about education a water way which moves across the surface of the earth via currents and is contained within banks and a narrow channel is in fact called a stream.  Streams can then be classified according to their size, the smallest of which are called brooks or creeks and the largest of which are called rivers.  Who knew?  Streams, it seems, have twelve orders for classification purposes.  A first order stream is the smallest of the world’s streams and consists of tributaries.  Tributaries are streams which flow into another, larger waterway, but have no water flowing into them.  Our little stream is a tributary which flows into a larger local river, and its source is two springs and over flow from the numerous ponds in the area.

We concluded that our little stream is a brook, and although its name is used occasionally with the prefix ‘river’, it is mainly referred to with the suffix ‘brook’.  So brook it is.

I had also done a bit of digging and I enjoyed the following classification, which whilst not very scientific, is huge fun:

‘you can step over a brook, jump over a creek, wade across a stream, and swim across a river’

Of course we had to check that definition out too, so the next day we ventured down to our brook to test to see if it was in deed a brook, a creek, a stream or a river according to the above definition (I was fairly certain it was not a river, and refused to allow the children to attempt to swim across it – it is autumn after all!).

We did attempt to

  • step over it as a brook….

Ribbet collagebrook1

but couldn’t.

  • jump over it as a creek….

Ribbet collagebrook2

which T just managed.

  • and wade across it as a stream:

Ribbet collagebrook3

which he managed with ease.  Obviously it was too shallow to swim across.

Our conclusion?  T couldn’t step over it, ruling out a brook.  He could jump over it, making it a creek; but he could also wade through it, making it a stream.  It was too shallow to swim over and therefore, according to above classification it was not a river.  Confused yet?  I think we’ll stick to the first, more specific, classification, which made this particular waterway a brook.

Next week I will be posting about the dead tree we shall be studying, and all the treasure which resides within the hollow trunk.


    1. Thanks Gemma. It is really relaxed and feels so healthy as well. Every time we go we find out even more interesting stuff. I love our nature rambles <3

  1. Wow! My girls were talking and couldn’t believe y’all were walking through that “rushing” water. I want some wellies. Not that I’d use them often, but maybe they would protect me from the snakes we have in the water.;/

      1. I know what they are, but maybe others do not.?? They aren’t too common, especially in Texas. We have very little need for boots to keep our feet dry.:/ I guess our “wellies” would be cowboy boots!

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