Saturday, February 20, 2010

Nature Study Days

Nature teaches so gently, so gradually, so persistently, that he is never overdone, but goes on gathering little stores of knowledge about whatever comes before him. ~Charlotte Mason

We are blessed to have a Charlotte Mason group here in Southern California. From what I understand, we are a rare breed. I often find myself feeling immense gratitude to be able to spend my days with these amazing women.

Together, for over two years now, we have taken our children out in nature once a week. Our children recite poetry once a month and draw in their nature journals. For a time we incorporated a lesson in foreign language - French, Spanish, Japanese.

Last week we headed to the creek which was full from the recent rains. Our children range in age from ready-to-be-born any day now to nine years old. There is no formal study of nature happening at any of our outings for now, instead it is a more natural learning that occurs as we read living books at home and point things out. Often times, we'll want to learn more about something and will research it when we get home.

They find things that are beautiful to them and keep ever growing collections of their treasures.

The boys like to hunt, they're looking for a snake they saw slither into the brush. It was dark green with a yellow stripe, maybe a racer or a garter snake? They also like to keep ever growing collections of the interesting creatures they capture. Unfortunately, luck was not on their side with that snake.

They create their own play with whatever they find.

Sometimes it takes a person a little time to get acclimated.

There are always interesting creatures to observe and learn about, like this water skimmer.

And it almost never fails that someone finds something truly amazing.

Here's Jen's (a mom) drawing from her nature journal, it was drawn just last week before she had ever seen the bug! What are the chances of that?!

Here's an interesting observation my 8yo daughter made - you can see in the water very clearly through a plastic bag.

The kids all play and work together - little ones and big ones - on whatever project they come up with on their own.

Because we never would have come up with this...

And of course, Cosmo, who tags along on some of our nature days, fits right in with the bunch.

She loves to dig.

And truly enjoys being in touch with real things :) Sooooo CM of you Cosmo!

If Charlotte's ideas hold true, when these children do delve deeper into the laws of science in their lessons, they will have a much more meaningful understanding and perspective because of their intimate experiences with them first.

Now is the storing time which should be spent in laying up images of things familiar. By-and-by he will have to conceive of things he has never seen: how can he do it except by comparison with things he has seen and knows? By-and-by he will be called upon to reflect, understand, reason; what material will he have, unless he has a magazine of facts to go upon? The child who has been made to observe how high in the heavens the sun is at noon on a summer's day, how low at noon on a day in mid-winter, is able to conceive of the great heat of the tropics under a vertical sun, and to understand the climate of a place depends greatly upon the mean height the sun reaches above the horizon.

Childlight recently published an article by Leslie Noelani regarding her "Charlotte Mason Co-op". I hope every CM homeschooling Mother has an opportunity to find a group like it. If not, perhaps it's time to evangelize!

Taking lessons outdoors

Every now and then, when attitudes seem to sag, when tiredness sets in, when it just seems like it may end up being 'one of those days' - we pack our books, some snacks, coffee to go and take our lessons outdoors :)