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Tuesday, October 29, 2013

31 Days of CM at Afterthoughts and The Flip Side of Habit Training

If you aren't familiar with Brandy's blog Afterthoughts, head over and check out her thought provoking posts. She has a lot to say about CM and education and current events and books and the kinds of things up our alley. And she's a fellow Californian :) In fact, I may even be meeting her in person next month! God willing.

She's just wrapping up her 31 Days of Charlotte Mason and has a directory of all the posts here, including one by yours truly on The Flip Side of Habit Training.


Isn't that the cutest graphic?

When I first learned about her blog, I knew it wasn't humanly possible for any one homeschooling mom to consistently compose as many posts as she does - well thought out, educated posts at that! - so I concluded she must have pre-written them and was now just posting them, one after the other! Well, I was wrong. She really is that amazing in her output and a pleasure to read too. Enjoy!

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Recitation

The kids have been reciting pretty consistently once a month at nature study since they began in YR1. They pick their own every month and recite it, I've made it a requirement, but beyond that, we haven't done much else with it so there isn't much to learn from us, but there's an interesting article called Recitation: The Children's Art by Arthur Burrell if you're interested. There's a lot more to it than we might think!

Here are Ryan's last two recitations. The first is the AO folk song from September and the second is Psalm 1



Link here in case it doesn't work: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9Lho46ut1nY



Link here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nUFq3HIfn38

Monday, October 21, 2013

Our Schedule

Have you found a perfect schedule yet? We have. Not to say we won't change our minds again, but this one seems to work for the kids' growing independence and our simple straightforward way.

Jeannette Tulis posted her version of it a while back and it was love at first sight. So simple, so basic, just what we needed.

I print a stack of them and hand write the upcoming week's readings on Sunday which helps me prep for the week. The kids wake up to find their schedules filled in Monday morning.

They each have Ambleside Online's chart schedule for the year in addition to this schedule which gives them a weekly overview by term so they can see what chapters, in which books, are scheduled when, all at a glance.

Of course we still make minor tweaks and adjustments as the need arises, but this one has really helped them transition to taking on more of the responsibility of managing their own schedule and consequently, their time - something they wanted as our 5 and 2 year old inevitably need my attention and time throughout the day as well.

You'll notice:
- It's messy!
- Thursday is not on the list, we have nature study on Thursdays.
- Readings are shuffled around by hand - they have that freedom since I don't always know how long a particular reading is or how their day might go.



Here's a link to a copy of it on Scribd if you want to adapt it for your own use.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Microscopic Tube Snails (Spirorbis sp.) to Chopin

If you've been following my posts at all, you know we've been exploring marine invertebrates in the kelp. Well, for my birthday, my family gave me a new microscope and life just hasn't been the same. Here's one of the amazing things we discovered under the microscope, appropriately set to Chopin of course :) Enjoy!

Monday, September 30, 2013

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Grand Conversations


Churchill's marriage to Clementine, the changing view of a man's marriage as relevant to his quality of character and ability to lead, and 1 Timothy 3 all came up on our couch today, turning our wheels of thought as she knit her leg warmers and the laundry remained piled high. AO YR6

Written Narrations YR5/YR6

Here are some samples of YR5/YR6 written narrations from the past calendar year. There are spelling errors, but for the sake of focusing on the composition I'm correcting them as I type. The grammar I'm leaving as is. I imagine these are shorter than the average written narrations at this age, but in a composition book they fill about a half to a full page, which we'll increase this year. I have taken things slower than most when it comes to writing, mostly because I didn't really know what she should be doing or what I should be teaching, but I'm pretty confident that she'll manage well with a little focused work this year.

The instructions I gave her for her written narrations were to *not* focus on grammar or spelling, but to just write her narration as she might speak it. Once she was comfortable writing them, we began working on the basic requirements - make sure you capitalize all sentences and proper nouns and end every sentence with a period, question mark, or exclamation mark.

Additionally I cover things like spelling and how to use quotation marks, form paragraphs, etc. very briefly on the board during the week as I see the need in her written narrations. She picks things up very quickly and shows it well in her dictations where she's not in a rush to get her thoughts out on to paper. In YR9 she'll be reading through The Elements of Style.

While there is nothing spectacular in these narrations, yes, we are pretty average, I'm thankful that she can convey a decent thought and that we haven't had to spend hours working on composition. While I'm still not exactly clear on how Charlotte Mason handled composition, nor am I sure she composed very well herself, I'm pleased with the way things have gone. How about you? How do you handle composition? 


Franz Josef Haydn


Haydn loved music. They lived in a very small house, even though it was small, and even though they had a big family they did not seem to care and they loved each other. Haydn's father sang in the church choir even though he did not know one note from the other. By the time Haydn was six he was leading the church choir. Even though he was not very loud he was a very good singer. His mother played the violin.

School of the Woods


The mother otter enticed her little baby otters on to her back. Before they knew what was going on they were in the water and trying to swim. The mother was swimming and playing in the water but the little otters crawled out and went into their den. As much as the mother tried to coax them out of the den they would not come.


David Livingstone


They came upon a bush woman (in Africa) captured her and for a few beads she told Livingstone and Oswell where water was (for they had been suffering from lack of water.) After walking for a long time they came upon a lake but could not cross it and did not have a boat or a raft to cross it.

The Hobbit


They did not tell stories or sing that day (though the weather improved,) or the next day, or the next. Finally they came to a river, its banks were very slippery and steep. They could see a mountain in front of them about a days journey away. "Is that where Smaug is?" asked Bilbo. "No you have to go way past that to get to Smaug's mountain." said Thorin.

Albert Einstein

Albert never forgot what his father told him about the compass. On starry nights Albert would go in the back yard and look up at all the stars. He would think how beautiful they were, sometimes he would cry but he did not know why.

Albert hated school. The teachers were very harsh and strict. Albert thought school was so boring with all the memorizing they had to do. He day dreamed and was the bad boy in school because of it.

The Hobbit

In a hole in the ground lived a Hobbit. It was not a nasty wet dirty hole with worms at the ends, and a oozy smell about it, it was a comfortable little hobbit with a circle door painted green with a brass knob right in the middle. The hole was in the Hill as everybody around called it. It had a round little hall with lots of rooms. All the rooms on the left were nice rooms because they had windows looking out to the garden.

Bible Esther

One night the King could not sleep so he told his servants to read him the Book of memorable deeds and he read him how Mordecai saved the King from two guards who planned to kill him. The king asked what had been done to honor him the servant said "nothing my lord."

The Story of the World

Imagine you and your older brother and your mother and father lived in Pennsylvania and your father lost his job (like most other men around that time) so you an your family planned to move to Oregon where people could get a job money a house and food so you guys packed everything you would need and especially food instead of a horse you had a oxen because horse don't eat prairie grass but oxen do. And about half way there the oxen could not pull the wagon because it was too heavy so you threw out most of your toys furniture and other things!

Madam How Lady Why

"Hoch!"

"Who just coughed behind me?"

"Well why don't you look?"

"What is that? It looks like a black tooth sticking out of the water?"

"That is a whale my boy. They are not fish because he breathes air he can hold his breath for a long time. Some whales can hold their breath for over a hour!"

"Look at those Terns flying they are so pretty!"

Shakespeare - Taming of the Shrew

A rich gentleman went into a pub and found a drunk man asleep. The rich man called one of his serving men and said "We shall make a joke of him, put him in a rich bed and when he awakes you shall pretend that he is a great person." Yes master said all the serving men.

Carry a Big Stick

Theodore Roosevelt was born October 27, 1858.

In a huge crowd Teddy was getting ready to speak. Then all of a sudden someone shot him in his stomach. The crowd screamed running to kill the assassin but Teddy got up with all his might and yelled "Don't kill him but bring him to me."

So they did as he told them to he pulled himself up with all his might he got up for his speech and he said "I have been shot but that will not stop me from saying my speech." The ambulance came but he just waved his hand weakly he said "I will either die speaking or I will die after my speech but I will not go to the hospital before I finish my speech!"

Age of Fable

A man (I forgot his name) was given an instrument by his father. He played so well that he even softened the rocks and trees. He married a very pretty girl and of course I forgot her name and one day she was in the forest and a man saw her and he loved her. Love drew him to her and she ran away as fast as she could and by accident stepped on a very poisonous snake and she died.

Her husband heartbroken went to pluto to ask her life back. He past many ghosts as he entered. He played on his instrument the sad song of her death. Pluto softened by his sad song gave back her life but he said "Do not look at her until they got home" So they walked for a long while he in front and she in back but in his forgetfulness he looked back at her and she died again!

Plutarch

Dion the ruler of that place hired his favorite man to go and make sure that no one was trying to kill or do anything bad to Dion. In that job the man was able to act as if he was part of the bad plot. The man hated Dion but acted as if he loved him so he made a plot to kill Dion so he got together some of Dion's soldiers and killed Dion. They took Dion's wives and put them in prison. In prison one of his wives gave birth to a baby boy. The man who plotted to kill Dion took the two wives and brought them on a ship pretending to keep them safe he cast them overboard and they drowned.

Abraham Lincoln's World

One night in a beer garden in Berlin Bismarck overheard a man at the next table talking about diminishing the royal family (the King and Queen of Persia and their family) Bismarck jumped to his feet out of this house! If you are not out by the time I finish this beer I'll shatter it on your head! Then he quietly finished his beer and the man was still there so Bismarck shattered the bottle on his head! The man shouted with pain! Then Bismarck quietly asked the waiter how much the glass was.

Oliver Twist

A man chanced to come by a gate that read Oliver Twist for sale. Oliver lived in a board and was being sold because once he asked for more grool. So they showed Oliver to the man and the man was just about to sign the contract when Oliver started to tremble and cry. Why what is the matter asked the man? Oliver said he would rather have Mr. Bumble beat him or kill him or starve him or anything he liked but he would not go with the man! So the man said I will not buy him and said for them to keep and take good care of him. So he left Mr. Bumble astonished.

Bible Job 2

There was a day when all the angels came to worship God and Satan came before God and God said to Satan "Where have you been?" And Satan said "I have been all around the world and up and down" and God said to Satan "Have you considered Job? He is the most godly man on earth. You can do anything to him but take away his life." 

Friday, September 13, 2013

Kelp finds - September 2013

What could be better than a day at the aquarium? A washed up hunk of kelp on the beach! All of the following creatures were found hiding in the kelp. You'll never look at kelp on the beach the same way again :)

anemone

nudibranch

something orange a brittle star spit out

anemone

some kind of shrimp and a skeleton shrimp on the right
aggregating anemone

hard to see but it's a tiny feather duster worm

ghost shrimp?

western spiny brittle and a flat worm

unidentified anemone
some kind of worm out of its tube

unidentified

larval octopus

unidentified

unidentified
anemone

unidentified

peanut worm?

worm and mussel with its foot out

purple star
ghost shrimp

larval octopus - so cute!

larval octopus

unidentified brittle

unidentified brittle

We could use some help identifying these!

Scientific Training


What do you think of these quotes about teaching the scientific method?

"I have been told, on good authority, that the essence of scientific method is never formulated in lectures addressed to, or text-books intended for, young teachers.

...what is most necessary for the children to learn is not what is the last new theory about where herrings are hatched, but how to extract the truth from a series of impressions and statements, each of which is only partially true." ~ Elementary Science Teaching

I think what she, Mary Everest Boole, is saying is that what's most necessary isn't for a child to know all the latest scientific stuff, but that he learn how to use his mind scientifically. One - the latest discoveries, the information - is ever changing. Another - the mind's ability to act upon knowledge - is versatile and always valuable.

What is our focus in Nature Study? To cover information and make sure it is known? Or are we developing a child's mind?

Charlotte says this about focusing on information: "The child who has got only information will write and speak in the stereotyped phrases of his text-book, or will mangle in his notes the words of his teacher."

They sound smart, know it all, test well... but have we inspired them to think for themselves? How much do they care? Will they seek truth in and enjoy nature without us? 

In speaking of her programme, Charlotte wrote "...for it depends, not upon how much is learned, but upon how things are learned."

and this...

"Scientific training is not the same thing as information about certain scientific subjects. No one in these days can escape random information about radium, wireless telegraphy, heredity, and much else; but windfalls of this sort do not train the mind in exact observation, impartial record, great and humble expectation, patience, reverence, and humility, the sense that any minute natural object enfolds immense secrets––laws after which we are still only feeling our way. (Vol.4, Book II, p.101)


So how do we flesh this out?

I think if we follow her principles as we see them elsewhere, we might find it is simpler than we imagined.
*Put the child in touch with nature, do not dispense it all to him. Mind to mind, child to nature, child to the work of the Creator.
*The child is born with an interest in the world around him - begin with this assumption.
*Do not hinder the child with talky talky, lectures, dead dry facts, dispensing of all knowledge, dumbing down nature, prefabricated contrived atmosphere, unit study type robbing the child of the chance to make their own connections. These methods rest on the teacher's full effort.
*Let them dig for their own knowledge, give them the living books and resources they need to seek out the knowledge they ask for. Let them find it if they can. Nothing induces living pulsing thought like discovering something yourself. These methods masterly make use of the child's natural desire to learn.
*Require narration in a notebook and at exam time - they are expected to know and tell.
*Keep it in context of a wide and varied curriculum - nature is relevant in poetry, literature, history, art, music, even handicrafts. The child's interest in nature is only multiplied as he finds it is not an isolated study, but one that spreads far and wide through time and thought in so many remarkable places.

Am I missing anything? What do you think?

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Nature Mystery Solved 09/04/13

What do you suppose these are?


I came across them in the garden.  Look closer...


At first I thought they were empty egg casings of some bug that hatched out. But, they have legs, which I thought may mean it was a molt of some sort, but that perfectly round hole... a molt wouldn't look like that.

Tonight as I was reading about oleander aphids, I came across a page that described a parasitic wasp and there they were in the picture! The very same empty carcasses - aphid carcasses. Mystery solved :) It reminds me of gall wasps, but one parasitic to a living creature instead. Total sci-fi material - remember Aliens? 

Isn't it fascinating that unbeknownst to most everyone that passes by this garden, there are aphids, that live symbiotically with ants that tend and milk them for their honeydew, that are also being implanted by parasitic wasps whose offspring eat them from the inside out while they die!? What drama right here in this tiny little world we pass by unknowingly.

What else are we passing by?

Here is a picture from the bottom of a non-native milkweed plant, the kind the Monarch loves. There are the beautiful yellow Oleander Aphids. They seem thinner than the plump round carcasses above. The wasp larva must fill it out. The lady bug grub is after the little one :( And look, one of them has white, not black, legs. I wonder why? Albino?

I read that entymologists call lady bugs "lady beetles" because they aren't true bugs. And they used to be called lady birds in England. They were supposedly named after Mary, who used to be portrayed wearing a red cloak in early paintings. 


What's happening in your garden?

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

The How to of Dictation

Copywork first, letter for letter, then Transcription around age seven or eight; word for word, an introduction to spelling, seeing entire words in their minds as they copy and write whole words in place of individual letters at a time, then Dictation. At eight or nine years old, a child prepares a paragraph, older children a page or two or three pages.
The child prepares by himself, by looking at the word he is not sure of, and then seeing it with his eyes shut. Before he begins, the teacher asks what words he thinks will need his attention. He generally knows, but the teacher may point out any word likely to be a cause of stumbling. He lets his teacher know when he is ready. The teacher asks if there are any words he is not sure of. These she puts, one by one, on the blackboard, letting the child look till he has a picture, and then rubbing the word out. If anyone is still doubtful he should be called to put the word he is not sure of on the board, the teacher watching to rub out the word when a wrong letter begins to appear, and again helping the child to get a mental picture. Then the teacher gives out the dictation, clause by clause, each clause repeated once. She dictates with a view to the pointing, which the children are expected to put in as they write; but they must not be told 'comma,' 'semicolon,' etc. ~Vol. 1, p.242 
You can read more for yourself of what CM prescribed in chapters X, XI, and XII of Vol. 1.

There is also a lesser known Parent's Review article titled "Notes of Lessons" which outlines the Dictation lesson for us this way:

Group: English. Class II (grades 4-6) Time: 20 minutes.

Objects:
To increase the girls' vocabulary.
To help them to visualise words and so write them correctly at their first attempt.
To improve their handwriting and composition.
To help to form habits of neatness and accuracy.

Lesson:

Step I. Let the children look over two pages of Parables from Nature, by Mrs. Gatty (for seven or eight minutes), which is new to them, but in which they are already interested.

Step II. Ask the children for any words they have not met with before, and write them upon the blackboard, giving other words like them, if possible, e.g., narrow, harrow, marrow; to make a stronger impression.

Step III. Choose a short passage from the two pages, and dictate once distinctly and clearly, not word by word, but in phrases. Look at the books as the children write, and if any mistakes do occur, cover them over with strips of stamp paper as soon as they are made and let them be rewritten correctly, so that the children may not get a wrong impression of a word fixed in their minds.

Step IV. Correct, noticing the neatness, accuracy and improvement in handwriting, and give encouragement accordingly.

There is also a helpful book my friend Arica shared with me, The ABC's and All Their Tricks



It's a great little reference book that lists words with similar spellings for every letter of the alphabet among other things. It can be handy for those dictation lessons or if your child is like mine and asks you to please help her learn how to spell you can give it to her for her own browsing and reference.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Choose Some Special Study Part II - The Changing Year

In case you missed Part I, you can find it here.

Since that post, I was able to obtain a copy of The Changing Year by F.M. Haines, the book mentioned by Charlotte Mason in  Vol. 6 and her programmes as an aid to the "great deal of out-of-door work" her students did in a term.




From the Preface"
These papers originally appeared in The Parents' Review of 1916 as a series of monthly Walks.
It is a beautiful book with 12 chapters "A Walk in January" "A Walk in February" "A Walk in March" etc. Each chapter describes what is observed as well as things like its behavior, some phenology and scientific knowledge, its Latin name and meaning of it, foreign names for it, any geographical and or economical tidbits relating to it, any fable, myth, historical knowledge about it, or bit of poetry relating to it.  

It's really not so much 'scientific' as it is all encompassing. The knowledge contained in these chapters was not compartmentalized information; it was holistic beyond the bounds of any one disjointed subject. Interestingly, it brings me right back to Charlotte and her idea that "education is the science of relations."

In hopes of sharing the book with you, I searched the Redeemer site multiple ways upside and down to find the 1916 PR articles the book originated from, but came up empty handed.

Instead, I will post a few excerpts here to give you an idea, and perhaps at some point the entirety of the book can be shared online.


From the Chapter titled "A Walk in April"

In Yorkshire, Spring is said to have fully come when one can plant one's foot upon nine Daisies, "those pearled arcturi of the earth" the Saxon daeges ege, eye of day, Chaucer's "of all flouris the floure," The scientific name, Bellis perennis, is from the Latin bellus, pretty, and the plant was so known in the time of Pliny; to the Italians it is pratolina, meadow flower, or Fiore di Primavera; to the French Marguerite, pearl; and to the Germans Gänselblumchen, little goose-flower, but also Tausendschönchen, a thousand prettinesses. 

 
Beloved by poets and children, to the Scots it is the Bairnswort, bairn's weed, and the Gowan of Burns and Hamilton. Sidney Dobell, in his charming Chanted Calendar, after likening the Primrose to a maiden watching a battle from a a tower, and the Wind-flower to one wounded and dishevelled "with purple streaks of woe," says of the Daisies:

"Like a bannered show's advance
While the crowd runs by the way,
With ten thousand flowers about them
They came trooping through the fields.
As a happy people come,
So came they.
As a happy people come
When the war has rolled away,
With dance and tabor, pipe and drum,
And all make holiday.
Then came the cowslip,
Like a dancer at the fair,
She spread her little mat of green,
And on it danced she.
With a fillet bound about her brow,
A fillet round her happy brow,
A golden fillet round her brow,
And rubies in her hair."

These rubies are the "fairy favours" spoken of by Puck, the gift of the fairy queen. A country name for the Cowslip is "Fairy Cups," and we know "When pattering raindrops begin to fall, tiny faces look wistfully through blades of grass for some friendly cowslip. In a moment little gossamer-robed forms are clambering up the stalks, rushing each one, into the nearest bell. Then comes a symphony of soft sweet voices, and he who listens may hear, perchance, a melody of Fairyland."

From the Chapter titled "A Walk in November"

The Lark sings for the last time, occasionally a Thrush is heard, but the real November songster is the Robin Redbreast, Keble's "sweet messenger of calm decay," when
"Plaintively, in interrupted thrills
He sings the dirge of the departing year."
Often the singer is one of the younger birds, who after their second moult, don the scarlet feathers of the adult and begin to practise their strains.

Now the Frog burrows into the mud at the bottom of the pond, Queen Wasps, Bees, and Ants are asleep, and Slugs and Snails retire to crevices. The November and the Winter Moth emerge from their cocoons, the former (Oporabia dilutata) is a woodland species, and may be seen resting on the under-surface of leaves, it measures about one and a half inches from wing to wing; the later (Cheimatobia brumata) is smaller than the November Moth and of a pale brown colour, the upper wings darker than the lower, the female has rudimentary wings; the larvae of this moth appear in May and are most destructive in orchards. 

Now
"The early mornings have an aspect strange, 
The day is breaking in a dense grey mist
That will not be dispersed. The fields are white,
And scarce a gleam of the uprising sun
Lights the dull landscape, E'en across the field
The trees are massed like fog-banks, in the hedge, 
With ghostly vagueness. With his silver shields,
The Coltsfoot decks the bank. The garden plot
Shows every plant out-lined in purest white,
And the dark Gorse, in the pale morning beam,
Glistens as though with crystals."

From the Chapter titled "A Walk in July"

July was originally named Quintilis, as being the fifth of the Roman year, but as "Caesar the Dictator was borne at Rome, when Caius Martius and Lucius and Valerius Flaccus were consols, vpon the fourth day before the Ides of Quintilis, this moneth after his deathe was, by vertue of the law Antonia, called, for that cause, Julie," in honour of the Emperor whose labours had reformed the calendar, and whose birth-month it was. July is said to have been the first month of the Celtic year, and was known to the Anglo-Saxons as Hen Monath, or leaf month, from the Germain hain, a grove, and also Hew, or Hay, monat, mead month, the grass being now ripe in the meadows.

The Booke of Knowledge tells us that "Thunder in July signifieth the same year shall be good corn and loss of beasts if their strength shall perish," a prophecy that, as far at least as the corn is concerned, is consolatory in a country whose summer is said to consist of "three hot days and a thunderstorm," and it is curious that all through northern Europe certain days are set apart on which, if the rain falls, wet weather may be expected for some time after.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

In which the kids find a marine worm with an eversible pharynx

Jeanne and her daughter Jemimah arrived from Australia today for a brief visit before heading off cross country to visit other AO friends. Here's the wildest creature our girls found today while playing in the sand at the beach!
video

Monday, July 8, 2013

Those first-born affinities

 "Those first-born affinities That fit our new existence to existing things."

Charlotte Mason quotes this more than once, it's a verse from William Wordsworth's poem Prelude describing something I'm not so sure any of us really know how to quantify.

What does she mean by it? She begins her entire section devoted to the task of laying out her curriculum with it in Vol.6, Chapter 10, The Curriculum 1:
"Education is the Science of Relations'; that is, a child has natural relations with a vast number of things and thoughts: so we train him upon physical exercises, nature lore, handicrafts, science and art, and upon many living books, for we know that our business is not to teach him all about anything, but to help him to make valid as many as may be of––
"Those first-born affinities That fit our new existence to existing things."


...our business is not to teach him all about anything,
really?
...but to help him to make valid as many as may be of––
"Those first-born affinities That fit our new existence to existing things."

What do you make of it? 

She says in Vol. 3"

Children have Affinities and should have Relations.––I cannot stop here to gather any more of the instruction and edification contained in those two great educational books, The Prelude and Præterita.
Have you read these? The latter is by Ruskin. I haven't, but I wonder what inspired Charlotte as she read. What sparked the ideas in her mind? 

It seems to be about first experiences... and "affinity." 
He attaches his being to mother, father, sister, brother, 'nanna,' the man in the street whom he calls 'dada,' cat and dog, spider and fly; earth, air, fire, and water attract him perilously; his eyes covet light and colour, his ears sound, his limbs movement; everything concerns him, and out of everything he gets–– 
"That calm delight 
Which, if I err not, surely must belong 
To those first-born affinities that fit 
Our new existence to existing things, 
And, in our dawn of being, constitute 
The bond of union between life and joy."(The Prelude)
~ Vol. 3, Ch.17, Education is the Science of Relations: We are Educated by Our Intimacies: The Prelude and Præterita, p.182


I think it was more than just first-time experiences CM was talking about. While it does involve them, I think perhaps it went beyond how we come to know a thing to what long-term ideas we form about it, which then forms our knowledge, which then affects our perspective and our very lives. Like the girls in the picture above - they see these wildflowers not as weeds,, but something beautiful to interact with and enjoy.

So many, many people have no ideas about things, no interest, no joy. No joy with wildflowers, no joy with literature, no joy with water and sand, no joy with children, no joy with people, no joy with insects, no joy in His grace.    

The bond of union between life and joy.

Charlotte was passionate about cultivating and not hindering this joy in children through her methods. 



How then?
It is enough for the present if they have shown us in what manner children attach themselves to their proper affinities, given opportunity and liberty. Our part is to drop occasion freely in the way, whether in school or at home. Children should have relations with earth and water, should run and leap, ride and swim, should establish the relation of maker to material in as many kinds as may be; should have dear and intimate relations with persons, through present intercourse, through tale or poem, picture or statue; through flint arrow-head or modern motor-car: beast and bird, herb and tree, they must have familiar acquaintance with. Other peoples and their languages must not be strange to them. Above all they should find that most intimate and highest of all Relationships,––the fulfilment of their being. [bold mine]
Giving opportunity and liberty. Is that on the schedule?
Meanwhile old grandame earth is grieved to find
The playthings, which her love designed for him,
Unthought of: in their woodland beds the flowers
Weep, and the river sides are all forlorn.
Oh! give us once again the wishing-cap
Of Fortunatus, and the invisible coat
Of Jack the Giant-killer, Robin Hood,
And Sabra in the forest with St George!
The child, whose love is here, at least, doth reap
One precious gain, that he forgets himself."'
 ~William Wordsworth, The Prelude
We might do well at times to listen to our children and what they want to stop and look at... the leaf, the bug, the bottle cap on the ground... to play a few more minutes, to sink your feet in the mud, to get sprayed with the water... to read another page, another book, sing another song...

....imagine if we forgot ourselves like Wordsworth says.

It is the children who are right, and we who are wrong; the world is more wonderful and more beautiful than even children think, and yet we would for ever correct them and inform them as to what we believe really is. We substitute facts for that wonder which is the seed of knowledge, and then we are amazed that eager, sweet-faced children grow into dull and indifferent little boys and girls. ~Charlotte Mason, Vol. 6
Listen to Charlotte...
Our Part, to remove Obstructions and to give Stimulus.––Later, we step in to educate him. In proportion to the range of living relationships we put in his way, will he have wide and vital interests, fulness of joy in living. In proportion as he is made aware of the laws which rule every relationship, will his life be dutiful and serviceable: as he learns that no relation with persons or with things, animate or inanimate, can be maintained without strenuous effort, will he learn the laws of work and the joys of work. Our part is to remove obstructions and to give stimulus and guidance to the child who is trying to get into touch with the universe of things and thoughts which belongs to him.

Our Error.––Our deadly error is to suppose that we are his showman to the universe; and, not only so, but that there is no community at all between child and universe unless such as we choose to set up. We are the people! and if we choose that a village child's education should be confined to the 'three R's,' why, what right has he to ask for more? If life means for him his Saturday night in the ale-house, surely that is not our fault! If our own boys go through school and college and come out without quickening interests, without links to the things that are worth while, we are not sure that it is our fault either. We resent that they should be called 'muddied oafs' because we know them to be fine fellows. So they are, splendid stuff which has not yet arrived at the making! [bold mine] ~Vol. 3, p.188:
You can read deeper into what she means here, courtesy of AmblesideOnline.org:  http://www.amblesideonline.org/CM/vol3complete.html#3_17


Saturday, July 6, 2013

Choose some special study... Part I

You can find Part II here: http://livingcminca.blogspot.com/2013/07/choose-some-special-study-part-ii.html

In describing her Science curriculum in Volume 6, Towards a Philosophy of Education, Charlotte Mason wrote: 
They are expected to do a great deal of out-of-door work in which they are assisted by The Changing Year, admirable month by month studies of what is to be seen out-of-doors. They keep records and drawings in a Nature Note Book and make special studies of their own for the particular season with drawings and notes. 
The studies of Form III [approx. years 7-8] for one term enable children to––
"Make a rough sketch of a section of ditch or hedge or sea-shore and put in the names of the plants you would expect to find."
"Write notes with drawings of the special study you have made this term,"
"What do you understand by calyx, corolla, stamen, pistil? In what ways are flowers fertilised?"
"How would you find the Pole Star? Mention six other stars and say in what constellations they occur."
"How would you distinguish between Early, Decorated and Perpendicular Gothic? Give drawings."
Questions like these, it will be seen, cover a good deal of field work, and the study of some half dozen carefully selected books on natural history, botany, architecture and astronomy, the principle being that children shall observe and chronicle, but shall not depend upon their own unassisted observation. 
The study of natural history and botany with bird lists and plant lists continues throughout school life, while other branches of science are taken term by term.

Looking also at her curriculum programmes, we find her mention, beginning around Form II (4th - 6th grade), under Natural History, something along the lines of:
Make special studies for August to December with drawings and notes: The Changing Year, by F.M. Haines (Wadsworth, 3/-), or, Countryside Rambles, by W.S. Furneaux (Philip, 2/6), may be used. [Furneaux's Nature Study Guide (Longmans, 6/6), may also be used for reference for outdoor work.] .
Here's a sample of a term's special study for even the youngest set from Programme 94 for Form I A & B, which I believe are Years 1-3:

Find and describe (a) six wild fruits; watch, if possible, and describe (b) ten birds, (c) five other animals. [The Changing Year, by F. M. Haines (Wadsworth, 3/-), or, Countryside Rambles, by W. S. Furneaux (Philip, 2/6): August to December. Furneaux's A Nature Study Guide (Longmans, 6/6), may be used for special studies and for reference].

With my oldest child heading into AO YR6, I am very interested in implementing some form of Special Study. Six years of weekly nature study and nature journaling has developed a keen eye, curiosity, wonder, recognition, and a sense of adventure in our kids. I believe beyond Nature Journaling, Special Studies are just the thing to help lead them to deeper levels of scientific observation and understanding, while still cultivating that necessary connection with the humanities.

In an effort to figure out how to implement Special Studies, I purchased a copy of Furneaux's A Nature Study Guide this past week. It was published in 1918 and in it I have found many similarities with CM's own ideas on nature study and her methods of education in general. Here's a summary of what I've read so far, I'll leave it to you to determine whether you think CM agreed with all of his points here or whether she merely used the book as a reference for her students.




Unfortunately for you, I am no scholar and am reading through this for my own personal use with my kids so I apologize in advance for the crude note form. Nevertheless, I hope it will be of some value to those wanting to learn more about the special studies CM required of her students.

Nature Study is:
  • important mental processes which assist in the development of the growing mind.
  • close observation of an object or phenomenon in which he is encouraged to form his own conclusions, and to realize, as far as possible, the true nature of the thing seen.
  • a method more than a subject
  • teaches a child to not only see but to recognize; and it produces a habit of sensory alertness.
  • a spirit of inquiry and research by which natural objects and phenomena arouse a living interest and encourage investigation.
  • should be worked hand in hand with drawing lessons, clay modeling exercises, geography, literature, moral training,
Isn’t:
  • Information acquired by teacher imparted to the class
  • not merely a lesson of information
  • facts acquired
Teacher should:
  • bring the child into direct contact with things, to cultivate the habit of careful observation and discrimination, to create a living interest in the surroundings, and to encourage independent thought.
  • not to give information, but rather to stimulate the children to observe and discriminate for themselves, and to form their own conclusions. Vague and imperfect conclusions of young children are more valuable than conceptions imposed by the teacher  on a child that is passively receptive. 
Value of Nature Study:
  • trains children in habit of close and thoughtful observation
  • helps them see and understand various natural objects and the phenomena associated with them which will have great influence in determining their tastes and pursuits.
  • habit of close observation will give child practical grasp of the whole physical world, enabling him to recognize all things and occurrences as a set of conditions that form his own environment.
  • cultivates aesthetic tastes, powerful aid in moral training, cultivates the judgment and the imagination, leads to such thoughtful and intelligent observation that the child not only becomes acquainted with facts, but also sees and appreciates her beauties and realizes her wonders – leading to a sympathy with all living things, correcting the natural tendency to destructiveness – also creating a broad human sympathy.
  • will produce a sense of keenness of the senses and precision of observation that, coupled with an appreciative interest in the surroundings and a natural inquisitiveness concerning things in general, will put him in a much better position to carry out the work demanded of him in his future career with initiative, self-reliance, and a productive method.
  • causes child not only to see with the mind as well as the eye, but teaches him to observe with a purpose; and the mental discipline it enforces provides a splendid foundation for the future study of the experimental sciences.
  • leads to neatness, accuracy and dexterity in all work undertaken, and does much towards the cultivation of patience and perseverance.
  • no study so thoroughly arouses the aesthetic and emotional elements of a child’s character, and no school study can do more to brighten the lives of the children.
Nature Lessons:
  • follow the course of the seasons in order to make studies from fresh or living material at the time of their occurrence.
  • should not consist of a series of set lessons, rigidly defined as to time and character – since nature, children’s minds, and new ideas and developments are variable.
  • Teacher should have perfect liberty to adjust the work as it proceeds, rather than feel himself compelled to follow a stereotyped course in which his own initiative and that of the children are more or less restrained.
  • should be systematic from beginning to end, with carefully prepared scheme of observations, drawn up in perfect accordance with the succession of the seasons, and so arranged that each portion naturally evolves itself from that which precedes it - but not rigid.
  • work laid out should never be excessive. Value of work done is not to be gauged by the number and variety of subjects compressed into the scheme, but rather by the thoroughness of that which has been done.
  • nothing is more effectual in the training of young minds than the continued observations of a progressive series of events such as seedlings under varying conditions, in the varied aspects of trees at the different seasons of the year, and life-history of an insect or other creature from egg to adult or perfect stage.
  • Many subjects like snowstorms, bird migration, etc. can only be dealt with on certain rare or special occasions, thus we take the opportunity as it arises.
  • harder to find animals to study than vegetable, but cardinal feature of animal life is motion; if children can’t observe its interesting habits and work out the striking relation between habits and structure, the charm and value of the lesson are lost. Since object of nature lesson is not to supply information, but to encourage independent observation and discrimination, one animal is practically as useful for the purpose as any other; as a rule, lesson should be based on some form of animal that can be conveniently studied.
  • foreign animals can be studied in connection with the teaching of geography, but should not constitute a set lesson in itself, for the mere presentation of facts by the teacher is not of sufficient importance to demand much time, and a lesson partaking of the character referred is entirely foreign to the spirit of nature study.
  • the collection of specimens for study should not, devolve entirely upon the teacher. Encourage children to collect, providing it is properly directed. Do not let children develop into mere collectors without discrimination as to the usefulness of the specimens acquired. They should bring in only such material as is necessary in the working of the nature study scheme of the school and which they desire to gain information.
  • it is well to devote a little time to pleasant chats on their observations and specimens, even though they do not fall within the range of the course planned for the school work. 
Method of Nature Lessons:
  • no formal, spoken introduction required. Set the object of study before the class and tell them to observe carefully, allow ample time for a very thorough inspection of the specimens.  Allow children to exchange observations and thoughts with one another.
  • series of questions put forth by teacher is waste of time, not necessary for children to see connection between last lesson and this, this is best seen after the current lesson has been practically concluded and relation between lessons should be worked out by the children, not the teacher.
  • ideas framed may often be somewhat confused and incorrect. But children should have the first opportunity of seeing and investigating. Where necessary, the teacher may, by an occasional remark, direct the observations into some desired order, and any confusion of ideas may afterwards be corrected.
  • after interest has been aroused by preliminary observation, teacher demands attention and, by a carefully planned series of questions, discovers what observations have been made, and draws attention to other points which should have been seen. Further questions asked with the object of encouraging the children to think out simple problems with regard to the habits and mode of growth of the thing before them, and to work out the uses and functions of its various parts. Children should be allowed and strongly encouraged to put questions to their teacher. Each question asked is encouraging proof of interest.
  • okay if teacher doesn’t have answer – nature so varied and changes that it is possible for a child to discover what a naturalist has never seen. Even so, teacher should keep his knowledge as far as possible in advance of what he desires his children to acquire.
  • Throughout the whole lesson the teacher should be careful to do nothing for the children they can do for themselves – tell them nothing which they themselves can discover, and offer no explanation where it is possible for them to solve the matter themselves. Give required assistance only where the children fail after every possible encouragement.
  • Grave error to be impatient to get on with the lesson to complete it, it matters not whether lesson is completed according to plan, but it is most important that the work done is done thoroughly.
  • always encourage children to sketch what they observe to keep both eye and mind working together. No matter if it is crude, sufficient that they have made good attempt. We can be sure they have observed the object before them much more closely than they would have without sketching it.
  • drawing could be done as an entirely separate lesson in drawing.
  • no sketch or picture should be presented that merely ‘illustrates’ that which may be observed in the object itself, not even if it displays features more conspicuously. Let the children have the full opportunity of searching out the features for themselves; do not attempt to save them any trouble for this will deprive them of the pleasure of finding out for themselves. We do not tell them what they ought to see, but rather let them have the pleasure of telling, in their own simple language, what they have discovered.
  • diagrams or models are useful to point out a particular portion of specimen requiring attention, but should be used sparingly. Keep out of sight except when in use.
  • really good pictures of things should not take the place of natural objects or illustrate scenes that may be observed within a reasonable distance. Direct observation in the open air as far as possible produces the most beneficial results on the minds of children; this may be supplemented by the use of good pictures. Pictures are useful in upper years to recall observations for the purpose of classifying, grouping.
  • Good for students to exhibit their handiwork and explain what they saw to the others. Teachers will be surprised what the children come up with that they themselves didn’t think of.  
  • hard and difficult words should not find a place in a nature lesson. The descriptions and other statements are given by the children in their own simple language and technical terms should never be substituted by teacher. Does not matter what a child calls a particular thing or part, provided name given is fairly appropriate. Aim is to get child practically acquainted with things, not names.
  • recap unnecessary, in this manner, children rarely forget what they themselves have discovered.
  • Nature reading books should not be substituted for nature lessons. Okay for reading lessons, but aims of reading lesson are quite foreign to those of nature study. Children must see for themselves and not be told, but work out problems themselves.
  • Good to encourage children to read in their own time, good books of travel and popular books of prominent naturalists.
Outdoor Work
  • most valuable part of nature study is outdoor work; advantage should be taken of every available opportunity of rambles in lane, field or wood, in any neighboring parks and open spaces.
  • every ramble must be arranged with some definite object in view, otherwise much valuable time may be lost in aimless wanderings and disconnected observations. This does not mean we should close our eyes to the many interesting objects that thrust themselves in our view; rather, carry out object and also notice other interesting things.
  •  each child should carry note-book and pencil to record what is seen. Encourage children to make a sketch of at least those objects selected for the observation of the day, make sure they are dated so they can be transferred to well-kept nature diary.
  • each child should also carry box to take home things objects required for more detailed examination or preserved for future study. Senior classes should have pocket-knife. A few small trowels may also be necessary for collection of roots, a magnifying glass and a compass are of great value in many cases.
  • remember object of ramble is not collection of specimens, but rather the close observations and study of natural objects in their natural surroundings. Be careful that children do not develop into mere collectors, but observers. Collect imperishable items given permanent place in the reference museum of the school.
  • also, many living objects, both animal and vegetable, the growth and life-histories of which are of great interest and provide favourable opportunities for series of continuous observations and records are collectible: roots of young wildflowers in their earlier stages may be transferred to the school garden for day by day observation, fronds of ferns for spores, caterpillar with sprig of it's food plant, pond creatures, etc. 
  • for plants and flowers a tin box containing a little damp moss will answer all purposes. Any box or even strong paper bag suffice for dry material: seeds, fruits of non-succulent nature, fern fronds, minerals; though a special box with loose packing of cotton-wool for delicate objects is extremely useful. 
  • for small animals, wood or tin box with a few holes for air made with an awl. push awl outwards from within so no rough edges injure the occupants. 
  • do not recommend preservation of animal and vegetable specimens for nature study. Object should be to create an interest in living nature by the observation of living things and their ever-changing aspects. Lessons surrounding preserved specimens may have some scientific value, but should hardly be needed in a school for the young and are usually as dead as the specimens themselves.
  • It is in the study of the various rocks, the soils derived from them, the movements and varying conditions of the atmosphere, and the face of the sky, with the movements, apparent and real, of the different heavenly bodies that we realise the very close relationship between nature study and geography.
  • the study of plant life is hardly complete without some appreciation of the relation existing between the character of the vegetation of the districts traversed and the nature of the soil. 
  • Children, while walking to the locality of their studies, should be taught to observe the nature of the ground covered - the slopes and aspects, the vegetation, and the soils, the underlying rock when visible and compare the rock and soil to see if one was derived from the other and if not, inquire into the ways in which it was transported there - water and other denuding agencies.
  • As soon as children are sufficiently advanced, let them sketch a simple plan of the route taken, include positions of hill, valley, and stream, of field, wood and moorland. Encourage them to mark, as accurately as possible, where principle objects of interest have been seen and any observed changes in the nature of the soil.
  • Elder scholars, expert in sketching rough plans, may be taught the use of the pocket compass and simple methods of measuring approximately the ground traversed, thus initiating them into the art of map-making, encouraging them to find their way about the neighbouring country with the aid of a compass and the ordnance map of the district.
  • Interesting observations may be made along moist banks which are special habitats of certain water-loving wild flowers, shrubs and trees; and in the stream species of aquatic plants with structure peculiarly adapted to their watery home. 
  • Call attention to varying velocity of the stream at different points, and the relation which the velocity bears to the gradient of the bed and to the transverse sectional area of the stream should be worked out. Further, the different kinds of material forming the bed should be observed - stony where rapid, sandy where not so swift, muddy where sluggish. Thus the process by which the stream tends to reduce the level of higher ground, and to fill up the hollows may be worked out. All the important features and functions of a mighty river may be observed, on a small scale, by the study of an insignificant rivulet. 
  • Ramble along coast observe result of denuding action of the sea, watch the waves do their work; bare cliffs give ample opportunities of studying the rocks of the district. Sea cliffs too have their own special vegetation, as have salt marshes found on low parts of the coast. Some interesting plants grow only near the sea, while others, common inland, become much altered in growth and habit when they find a home on the cliffs.
  • On the beach, can observe some of the results of the mechanical action of the waves in the rounded outline of the lower rocks, the pebbles, and the particles of sand. Movements of tide should be noted; the times of ebb and flow, as well as limits of the advance and retreat of the water on different days, entered in notebook for future reference. Side by side with these, the condition of the moon. Thus they see the hour of high tide and the amount of advance and retreat of the water are always the same for the same condition of the moon.
  • Let children observe general features of sea-weeds, their varying forms and colours, their mode of growth, the absence of flowers, roots and true leaves. In case of larger species with air-bladders, observe the plants hang over the rocks at low tide and again their position when submerged to learn the function of the bladders supporting plant for maximum light and free supply of dissolved air, learn structure adapted to habit and habitat. 
  • At low tide, examine animal life that live attached to the rocks, that conceal themselves beneath stones and weeds waiting for water to return, and the many active animals that people the rock-pools. Can observe those protected by hard external coverings, also ample means of defense and offense, camouflage. Equally interesting and instructive are varied organs of motion and locomotion - the fins of fishes, jointed legs of crabs, shrimps and prawns, gliding 'foot' of the winkle and the whelk, swaying tentacles of marine worms and anemones. 
  • Even on less productive shores, much may be gained by careful examination of the line of debris washed up by the waves to form the high-water mark, particularly after a storm. Many animals and plants detached and thrown on the beach by the waves. 
  • If possible, a little time should be set apart occasionally, say about once or twice a week, for a general chat on the observations of both teacher and children. This greatly encourages children to observe and add much pleasure to their work while giving teacher opportunity to develop their power of expressing themselves in correct English.
  • Suppose it is proposed to give a lesson on some domestic animal that could not be conveniently studied within the schoolroom. Tell the class a few days previously to watch the particular animal closely, whether it be in the home, the field, the stable, or in harness, and to be prepared to give a description of its structure and habits. In such an instance, teacher should give some definite instructions as to the principal observations that should be made, e.g.:
1. The general form or build.
2. The character of the natural covering.
3. The limbs, especially in motion.
     (a) The movable joints.
     (b) The feet and their hoofs or claws.
     (c) How far the limbs resemble, and how far they differ from, our own.
     (d) How the animal moves about.
4. The head and neck
5. The ears (compare with the human ear).
6. The eyes: where situated; lids and lashes.
7. The mouth. - 
    (a) The lips.
    (b) If possible, the teeth.
    (c) How the animal feeds. Its food.
8. In all matters enumerated above, how the animal is peculiarly adapted to its habits and mode of life.
  • Then when time for lesson has arrived, teacher will receive from class all observations made and the conclusions at which the children have arrived. He will not give information himself, as a rule, but rather encourage the children to observe gain in matters where their observations have been imperfectly made. Nor will he offer explanations too freely, but cause the children, with as little aid as possible, to work out for themselves the little problems concerning the relation between structure and habit. Such a lesson ought to be quite as valuable as one in which the object selected is examined in the presence of the teacher himself.
  • Another example is the house-fly, it is much better observed at home, not captured, but at liberty. Encourage children to note:
1. Divisions of its body
2. The large eyes, little feelers (antennae), and the sucking organ on the head, the food required by the fly and the manner in which it feeds. 
3. The legs: where situated; how the fly walks, and its power of walking on very smooth surfaces, even in an inverted position.
4. The number and nature of the wings, and the wonderful power of flight. 
  • In this instance, aid of teacher's knowledge necessary in explaining exactly how fly feeds, why unable to devour food in solid state, also how enabled to walk on perfectly smooth surfaces. Diagrams or, better, photographs from Nature might be shown to demonstrate the wonderful structure of the foot and the proboscis. Subject might also be extended by rearing some flies in suitable cage to trace the whole life-history and metamorphoses.
  • Many other nature subjects lend well to this mode of treatment, and greatly assist the teacher in that they give useful and interesting employment for children's leisure hours, allowing more actual study than would be case if all observations made under direct supervision.
  • Where nature study has formed part of the curriculum and where the subject has been taken on the lines we have laid out, there will be but little fear that the children will cease to interest themselves in their surroundings as they get older and eventually leave school. Often we find them organising themselves into little societies or clubs for the express purpose of continuing the work that has given them so much delight in the past, and teacher should foster this tendency by helping elder scholars and the old boys and girls to establish, organise, and maintain a field club or natural history society in which they continue the study commenced in younger years.
  • This mode of treatment is not exclusively adapted to the study of animal life, for it is equally applicable to all branches of Nature. General study of our forest trees and shrubs, habitats of flowers, general aspect of hedgerow, field and wood, study of atmospheric phenomena, the changes of the moon, movements of various heavenly bodes are all suitable employments for children under the guiding hand, though not necessarily under the direct supervision of the teacher. 
       
      Below is a list of the special studies listed in the book by season.
      Spring Studies.

    Spring the season of the re-awakening of life.

    Vegetable Life.
         The opening of buds.
         Detailed study of one large bud:
              Bud-scales and other temporary structures.
              Gradual transition of bud-scales into leaves.
          Simple experiments to demonstrate the manner in which the sap flows.
          Germination of various seeds under different conditions as to moisture, food, heat and light.    Records kept Plants reared from seeds, in a good soil, for continuous observation. Records of life-history.
    The growth of bulbs and corms.
    The growth of potato plants from the tubers under varying conditions. Make records.
    Spring flowers (chiefly outdoor studies):
    Habitats and habits.
    Calendar observations.
    Cultivation of flowers in the school garden.
      Animal Life.
      Forms and habits of the common creatures of the garden - snails, slugs, centipedes, young spiders, etc.
      Rearing of caterpillars or other insect grubs for the study of their metamorphoses.
      Observations of aquatic creatures in the school aquarium:
      Development of frogs' eggs.
      Various aquatic larvae.
      Water snails. Small fishes.
      Marine life as seen in the rock-pools.
      Study of the common birds of the neighbourhood:
      Return of the summer visitors.
      Nest building and the care of the young.
      The common mammals of the neighbourhood:
      Wild and domestic. Forms and habits.
      The frolicking of young animals - lambs, kittens, etc.
      Studies of Earth, Air and Sky.
      Daily path of the sun: rising, setting, altitude at mid-day.
      Lengthening day and increasing warmth.
      Spring winds and showers. Droughts and dust.
      Planets visible at the time. Appearances and movements.
      Stars. Their apparent motions. Conspicuous constellations.

      Summer Studies

      Summer the season of greatest abundance of animal and vegetable life, and of rapid growth and development. [my note: interestingly, in California, summer is the dormant month for many of the natives due to the heat.]

      Plant Life.

      Summer wild flowers - chiefly outdoor work:
      Observatinos of habitats and habits.
      The flowers and weeds of the garden:
      The struggle for existence.
      How plants are protected - thorns, spines, prickles, etc.
      Forms and arrangement of leaves. Leaf mosaics. Functions of leaves.
      Storage of food in rootstocks, tubers, bulbs, etc.
      Calendar of summer flowers. Records of observations on the habitats, habits, flowering, fruiting, etc.
      Parts of the flower and their uses:
      Relation between flowers and insects.
      Relationships in plants, as shown in the structure of the flowers and other parts.
      Our forest trees and shrubs. General form, bark, branching, leaves, fruit, etc.
      Simple experiments illustrating the general activities of plants:
      Absorption of water, transpiration, movements of sap, formation of starch and other products.
      Flowerless plants and their life-histories:
      Ferns , mosses, lichens, fungi, algae.
      Animal Life.
      The small creatures of the garden.
      Common birds of the neighbourhood.
      Habits of animals seen during school rambles.
      Common creatures of our ponds and streams.
      Life in the rock-pools on the coast.
      In all the above attention paid particularly to -
      Movements-voluntary and instinctive.
      Means of defence and offence.
      Means of capturing or procuring food.
      Manner in which the food is eaten.
      Construction of homes or shelters.
      Solitary and social life.
      Storing of food not required for immediate use.
      Care of the young: preparations for, protection, feeding, teaching, etc.
      Construction of snares - spiders.
      Resemblances to environment, and mimicry.
      Studies of Earth, Air and Sky.
      The sun: rising, setting, altitude at mid-day.
      Length of the day. Summer temperatures.
      Summer showers and droughts. Their effects.
      The planets visible.
      The star-constellations visible in summer only.

      Autumn Studies

      Gradual reduction in temperature and gradual decline in both animal and vegetable life.

      Vegetable Life.

      Ripening fruits. How fruits are formed.
      Difference between fruits and seeds.
      Uses of the fruits (seed-cases) to the seeds within them.
      Splitting and non-splitting fruits.
      Collection of fruits and seeds. Agents concerned.
      Autumn flowers-studied, as far as possible, in their habitats.
      Decay of leaves. Autumn tints.
      Fall of the leaf. Cause of. Observations and records.
      The meaning of decay. Action of bacteria.
      Storage of food by biennials and perennials.
      Animal Life.
      Creatures that never live to the end of the year:
      Deposit of eggs before they die.
      Storage of food for the winter - squirrels, bees, etc.
      The movements of birds. Summer visitors leaving. Winter visitors arriving. Birds of passage.
      Small creatures of the garden seeking shelter for the coming winter.
      The Earth, Air and Sky.
      The shortening day and decreasing temperature.
      Observations of the rising and setting sun:
      Decreasing altitude of the mid-day sun.
      Autumn gales, mists, and fogs.
      The planets visible at the time.
      Some constellations of stars visible only during the autumn.

      Winter Studies
      Life now at its lowest ebb. Many plants and animals in a dormant condition.

      Plant Life.
      Winter condition of deciduous trees and shrubs.
      Study of winter buds.
      Evergreens: their principal characteristics.
      Conifers and their cones.
      Winter condition of hedge, field, wood, and moor.
      Winter flowers: snowdrop, hazel, furze, etc.
      Early flowers in sheltered places.
      Winter condition of herbaceous biennials and perennials: their roots, tubers, corms and bulbs.
      Animal Life.
      Hibernating animals: their homes and their condition.
      Winter hiders, including the little creatures of our gardens.
      Dormant stages (pupae) of insects.
      Birds seen in winter.
      Animals that change their covering for the winter:
      Advantages of this change.
      Winter life of the squirrel.
      Domestic animals.
      The care of flocks and herds in winter.
      Bees in winter.
      Queen humble-bees and queen wasps.
      The Earth, Air and Sky.
      The snowstorm. Snowcrystals and flakes. Compare with other crystals.
      Frost and its action.
      Ice and its properties. Icicles.
      Winter storms and floods.
      Winter landscapes. Contrast with summer.
      Winter condition of ponds and pools.
      The seashore in winter.

      Other Studies

      (For any time of year)
      Vegetable products: their properties and uses.
      Aninmals products: properties and uses.
      The jetsam of the seashore.
      Various human activities in town and country.
      Weather charts: how made, and their use.
      The rocks and soils of the neighbourhood:
      Building and paving stones. Their properties.
      Other mineral products of the neighbourhood.
      Disposition of rock-beds in the locality.
      The forces moulding the land:
      Streams and their action.
      Action of the sea on the land.
      The atmosphere as a denuding agent.
      Clay, chalk, coral, and other interesting rock-formatinos.
      The magnetic compass: its principle and use:
      How to find the geographical North by means of the compass, the pole star, and the sun.
      The northern constellations of stars always visible:
      Their apparent daily motion.
      The Milky Way. The universe.