Let’s start with the name of the park – Big Bone Lick Park.  Big Bone = the fossils that have been excavated there.  Lick = a Kentucky term for a creek.

We went to a state park with our homeschool group this week.  This park is special because actual fossils of mastodons, mammoths, sloths, and more have been dug up at this park.  The animals were drawn to the salt in the land there but the area was also full of bogs and marshes that trapped the animals in the soft earth.  Clark (as in Lewis and Clark) was the first to excavate these fossils at Big Bone Lick Park.


Bison are still kept on the park grounds today and were our main objective at the park.  My boys asked me on the way to the park what the difference was between a bison and a buffalo.  Me, in my ignorance, told them they were the same thing.  When I was talking to my friend, she was telling me there is a difference between the two but she wasn’t exactly sure what.  I looked it up when I got home and explained to the boys the differences using this page as a guide.

Bison = the animal that roams the North American grasslands

Buffalo = live in Africa and Asia (think water buffalo)

We hiked a couple of miles at the park and enjoyed observing the plants and animals along the way.  I took several pictures of the plants because my boys were more interested in running, exploring, and talking to their friends than doing plant identification.  I’m not upset about this but…as soon as we got in the car, they told me they wanted to come back tomorrow and identify all the plants they saw.  As much as I’d like to come back again tomorrow, I had stuff I needed to get done over the weekend.  I knew this would be the case and is why I took photos of the plants.

The next day we sat down around my laptop with all of their field guides. We looked for these plants like detectives observing clues through the pages of the books and verified them using an Internet search.


This is Jewelweed.  The seed pods are edible and taste similar to walnuts.  The stem and leaves are used to relieve mosquito bites, warts, poison ivy, wasp & bee stings, and more.




Goldenrod – edible, used for teas by Native Americans



These berries were growing on a tree.  We were unable to confidently identify this tree.




Honey Locust Tree – the thorns protect the tree from animals


Honey Locust Pod – they are edible

We found an image of the Honey Locust leaves, bark, and pod on this website.  I cut and pasted it into a word processing program and printed it out for the boys to color.



We believe it’s a Tickseed Sunflower but are not 100% confident






Osage Orange fruit – but called brain fruit by my kids

Many people use the fruit as an insect repellant