Saturday, November 16, 2013

Nature Study-ish

This time of year is fantastic. The children and I are able to FINALLY go outside and enjoy our community. Any time it is over 85, I don't go outside much. I have had heat stroke several times, and get very ill when I am overheated. I don't really think passing out or puking in front of my children equals fun outside time, so I have to wait until evening, or push them out early if I want to hang out with them in the summer. I am so thankful for the time we get to spend outside now.

 Because we are out more, I figured I would finally get a chance to do more of a traditional Charlotte Mason type nature study. The concept is simple... Go outside, spend time observing, ask questions about what you see, use a guide to learn about what you experience, and then journal/record the info with a drawing. That seems reasonable, right? I had envisioned my children and I sitting on our picnic quilt, reading stories and drawing together. I anticipated them having eager and intelligent questions that provoked really wonderful discussion. I thought I would be patient and have all kinds of enthusiasm.

 Um..... Then there was the reality of it all.

 My children are so distracted outside, I end up with one child practically memorizing the nature guide, one drawing pictures of stop lights, one rolling down a hill, and one pouting and glaring at me. Pretty close, right? Of course, I handle it with grace and love every time.... orrrrr I loose it for a few minutes, and threaten public school, chores, and dictionary copying. Maybe I chill and switch topics, and we end up searching for shapes in the clouds and forgetting our frustrations. Sometimes, it actually goes well. It works even better when you don't all get eaten by fire ants. Sometimes nature study works when you aren't necessarily OUT in nature.

 We had an animal scavenger hunt, in which the children had to learn about the habitats, physical characteristics, and anticipated care of many pet shop critters. Thanks to an experience with a large green lizard this spring, I have 4 little reptile obsessed students. I have never seen (read:paid attention to) so many reptiles in a pet store! There is a chameleon at our PetCo that I couldn't stop looking at. It was beautiful... ish. Have you ever seen their feet? This little guy was having a blast showing us how his weird feet worked. He even changed colors twice!

Later, we ended up at this super cool duck pond at the local college. We fed and watched the ducks (They even identified the different breeds!) and geese for quite some time. I can definitely see more of my ideal nature time out there. Did you know that geese are considered one of the smartest birds? Did you also know that they used to be kept by wealthy little girls because they were loyal and protective like dogs? Now you do. ;)

Even if things don't go as planned, it is still wonderful to be out, and learning new things this season. 

Blessings, Mandy