You may remember my previous post about a goose nest discovery. Well, this wasn't them. As far as I could see from a recent walk, that nest is no longer :(
But we did get to feed 'baby' Canada geese under a weeping willow whose branches trailed through the water in the breeze at another quiet park last week. Their grey down was rubbing off and their feathers were coming in. We noticed patches of a blue-ish color under their wings that we had never seen before. The mother and father stayed close by and hissed at us a little, but were mostly happy to enjoy our bread with their 6! babies.
Parts of the books Trumpet of the Swan and Make Way for Ducklings kept running through my head, mixed with scenes from our recent read aloud Jacob's Little Giant- a very sweet story about a boy, a farm, and raising a nearly extinct breed of Canada geese. I love how the author's turn of phrase caught me off guard in a couple of spots.
We also caught tadpoles in the pond. The water is very high right now, up over the normal bank, so the wriggly little guys were hiding right in the grass in about 2 inches of water. Some of them already had back legs. We caught them, looked carefully, and then let them all go. We took off our shoes and dipped our toes in and watched the water bugs zoom around on the surface. We had a lovely 'date,' my oldest and I, despite sharing with the geese most of my yummy Panera bread!
Clouds have been of great interest at our house lately. The first thing my oldest son usually does upon awakening is run to the window and give me a scout report (weather, cloud types, precipitation, and wind etc., in his own 5 year old way.)
Our kitchen table is directly in front of the double patio doors, and we have a perfect view of the sunset at supper time each evening. LOVE LOVE LOVE. Each one is unique, and lately they have been stunning. We once in a while we shut off all the lights and watch it like a large movie screen, a little magic at the end of the day. We talk about how the sun is going to bed in the west, and how the Bible says the sky shouts praises to God. Although, my son tells me it gets all the pretty colors in it because it is getting tired. :)
We notice the layers and contrails, and colors and shapes of clouds. We watch clouds blow across the sky on a windy day. He told me just yesterday somewhat suprised, "When I was walking and walking the clouds moved; when I stopped, they stopped!" We read the book The Man Who Named the Clouds. So far we can recognize Cumulus: the puffy-shaped ones, Nimbus: meaning rain, and the new favorite Stratus: fog!
Then the other day, when everyone was awake earlier than usual due to daylight savings, my son looked out the window and announced that it was fog-Y! I stood next to him and asked if he wanted to walk inside a cloud? He looked at me with big round eyes and said incredulously, "YEAH!"
It's pretty fun being the mom of a 5 year old boy. We pulled our coats and rubber boots over our pjs and headed down the road. (It's so nice to live in the country sometimes.)
Whenever we walk this direction we have to go all the way up to the top of the hill. Usually we can see quite a ways off into the pasture and towards town. But this morning, hmmmm... we couldn't! I quietly let him just wonder at it all, as I stood and wondered back at him. After I took this one, he did a little happy dance and we walked back home. We collected pretty golden-yellow rocks in our pockets on the way. When we got back inside we wrote in our Book of First Things (and memories), "first time walking inside a cloud."
This past summer (where has the time gone!?) at the Living Education Retreat our speaker, Jen, mentioned a book titled The Cloudspotter's Guide:The Science, History and Culture of Clouds by G. Pretor-Piney. I have been thoroughly enjoying bits of it lately and learning many things.
Did you know that there have been architect/artists that have designed buildings out of clouds!? (Read pg. 80-81 It's cool! )
Did you know fog was a stratus cloud? The author says, "Stratus is the only cloud that bothers to come and join us at ground level." I love the conversational yet knowledgable tone of his writing.
The author also started The Cloud Appreciation Society, and if you like them on Facebook you will get to see some photos of gorgeous clouds around the world.
I love the society's manifesto, especially these parts,
"...clouds are expressions of the atmosphere's moods, and can be read like those of a person's countenance." (He might agree with my son and his speculations on the sky feeling tired and getting colorful.)
"...clouds are nature's poetry." "..life would be immeasurably poorer without them."
"...clouds are for dreamers and their contemplation benefits the soul."
"Look up, marvel at the ephemeral beauty, and live with your head in the clouds."
"Any book is good that helps your mind grow straight and tall."
-Schoolhouse in the Parlor by Rebecca Caudill
These past 2 weeks were our official beginning of the kindergarten year at our house. I wanted to make it feel special to start school, partly because every other person at church or in line at the grocery store has been asking our oldest for 2 months now, "So, are you all ready to start school?" and, "You must be in kindergarten next year, right?" His usual response was "I do homeschool." To which, there was usually no reply, a smile and a nod, or a change of subject. I'm not even sure he knew what that meant.
To me it felt a little silly to say, "Yes, we're starting school," or "Today is the first day of kindergarten," because education has become our way life and we've been learning lots all summer. That wasn't really going to change much just because I announced it to be the first day of school. I'm not even sure I really like the term 'kindergarten'. But I recently read this article and found myself partially agreeing. There are certain rites of passage that come with being a kid in today's society. The excitement of the first day of kindergarten is one of them, I think.
So, I wrote down a few plans, ordered some new books, planned a couple of fun field trips and an extra special lunch menu; we bought some new crayons and off we headed into the wide world of SCHOOL!
Here are some favorite quotes from our "school" time thus far, & some books we're reading.
"I love this, Mom!" he told me at one point during the day.
An art museum through the eyes of a kid is really a treat.
"But none of all this beauty
Which floods the earth and air
Is unto me the secret
Which makes September fair.
T'is a thing which I remember
To name it thrills me yet:
One day of one September
I never can forget."
-September by H. H. Jackson
""Hey, a lady bug came to join our village! Did you see her open her wings?"
"That sounds like a bird! Wait, nope. It's just branches rubbing. See that tree there?"
-out in our woods one windy morning
"Look, a giant ant!"
"There was an owl lived in an oak,
Wisky, wasky weedle;
All the words he ever spoke,
Were, "Fiddle, faddle, feedle."
-these two got some giggles
"There was an old woman tossed up in a basket,
Seventy times as high at the moon,
And where she was going, I couldn't but ask it;
For in her hand she carried a broom.
"Old woman, old woman, old woman," quoth I,
"Whither, Oh whither, Oh whither so high?"
"To sweep the cobwebs out of the sky!
And I'll be with you by and by."
(the history behind this little rhyme about King Henry the V is interesting)
"And the Child grew and became strong in spirit, filled with wisdom;
and the grace of God was upon Him." Luke 2:40
"Leigh Hunt on Flowers ...this mysterious bud gradually unfolding like the leaf, amazing us, enchanting us, almost alarming us with delight, as if we knew not what enchantment were to ensue, till at length, in all its fairy beauty, and odorous voluptuousness, and the mysterious elaboration of tender and living sculpture, shines forth the blushing flower."
"...To make collections of wild flowers for the several months, press them, and mount them neatly... affords much happy occupation and, at the same time, much useful training..."
- CM Vol. 1
The violet was our first entry this spring into our collection book of wildflowers. This happy occupation is also recommended on Mason's List of Attainments, and I can see why! My son is overjoyed each time he gets to add a new finding to his book, each one a friend he is not likely to forget.
"And, having made the acquaintance of a wild flower, so that they can never forget it or mistake it, they should examine the spot where they find it, so that they will know for the future in what sort of ground to look for such and such a flower. 'We should find wild thyme here!' 'Oh, this is the very spot for marsh marigolds; we must come here in the spring.'"- CM
"If the mother is no great botanist, she will find Miss Ann Pratt's Wild Flowers [see Appendix A] very useful, with its coloured plates, like enough to identify the flowers, by common English names, and pleasant facts and fancies that the children delight in."
Ann Pratt says, "The sweet blue and white violets are among the first favourites of our childhood. We find them in March; hence our old writers called them the March Violet; but they are still more abundant in April than in the earlier month. They grow on way-sides, and many a copsewood in England might remind us of the poet’s description:-
“There the purple violets lurk,
With all the lovely children of the shade."
We use a hard cover notebook with thick paper to mount them in as well as a field guide that is specific to our state and has large colored photographs. I often try to find some interesting tidbit about the flower or how it got it's name to make it come even more alive to my son.
Anna Botsford Comstock's Handbook of Nature Study has a wonderful little lesson on violets that, after reading it, makes me want to head back out and take a closer look!
Oh, and here's a little wildflower story for you- We live in the country, so it's ok to not mow your lawn if you don't get to it right away in spring. That's what happened to us the spring we built the house. We were busy so the front yard ended up looking less like a golf course and more like a hay field. But there was a bonus- I learned where all the patches of wildflowers grow in the yard. The Ox-eye Daisies are by the dead apple tree, the Oriental Poppies are along the grove, the milkweed is on the side by the row of evergreens, and the mullien is right out the front yard. As it just so happens now, I'm known to mow around the patches of wildflowers that happen here and there. The yard might look a little different, but my son has flowers right out his front door and I don't even have to water them!
To observe the diversity of the everyday life happening around us, that we so often fail to notice...
To see how camoflouge really works as feathers fade from view...
To learn to really listen...
We study birds.
I don't mean open a book and discuss the various species, wingspans, and habitats.
We press our noses to the window or sit out under a tree and study- how they flit, chase, scold, sing, munch, soar, honk, chirp, peck, twitter, bathe, sip, flirt, perch, dip and glide.
First was fat Mr. Robin Redbreast with his song, "Cheer-up! Cheerily!" to welcome back the spring. The rest of his feathery friends followed close behind.
It's a favorite of my son, to see him come zooming out of the bushes with mama Robin at his heels, scolding fiercely. We wonder what he did to make her so mad.
I love that he's noticing their personalities.
Junco, who'd stuck around all winter, was still scouring the ground for seeds each morning just outside our window as we had our breakfast too.
Then there was the day Wild Turkey, out for a jaunty stroll, came clipping along through the back yard and we ran to grab the camera! Once he got to that field- though still in plain view, he disappeared from our sight. We were left to catch our breath, still wishing he'd stopped to show off his tail feathers. Many days since then have been spent in the woods, rifle (I mean stick) in hand, turkey hunting.
One grey morning it was this pair of Morning Doves. They mate for life, you know.
Their "Coo-ah, coo-coo-coo" so calm- despite their looking chilly as they huddled together against the drops of driving rain and a harsh wind. We thought they must be looking for a good branch in which to nest.
But, our favorite voice belongs to the Brown-headed Cow bird. We giggle attempting to imitate his vain chortle. And we recall last summer watching him feed his vanity perched on the car door admiring himself in side mirror and fluffing out his feathers. He and his lady friend visited daily, one on each mirror leaving us a mess to clean off the doors and leaving us wondering why they liked those mirrors so much.
He loves how the Grackle's feather shimmer in the sunlight.
The spry little Goldfinches have discovered the sock feeder and bird bath we recently added to the yard. This morning we read a delightful passage describing these birds and their habits in this book.
Then there's the elusive Blue Mr. Jay who doesn't like having his picture taken.
And of course a sparrow or two. Who could forget the sparrow? This kind being Harris's Sparrow, named after Edward Harris, a companion of John J. Audobon.
But most impressive of all- one which we have never seen before, was this Indigo Bunting that grabbed a snack and headed on its way.
So, you can see, it's so much more than just a check mark on a list of skills to be attained by a certain age/grade level. We're making friends here. Ones that visit often, make us smile and laugh (like when they try to fly in through the picture window), and who enrich our life by reminding us what a marvelous Creator we have.
"The children I am speaking of are much occupied with things [ie. birds] as well as with books, because 'Education is the Science of Relations,' is the principle which regulates their curriculum..." -CM
16. to name 20 common objects in Spanish, and say a dozen little sentences
17. to sing one Spanish song
Spanish: Another goal of ours from the list
He worked quietly with patience and persistence to catch a couple of butterflies out in the yard last week. We kept one overnight to observe and enjoy.
It helps, when we are learning, to have a sister/auntie who can speak Spanish to us.
Isn't the word 'mariposa' beautiful to say?
We're using this and this to continue our learning.
A friend of mine has a great post on word culture that has got me thinking on more ways to incorporate a second language into our days.
I also love her list 'Think on these things" at the very bottom of her blog. It has helped me more then once to re-focus on what is truly important when homeschooling my children.
She is a gem!
Trying new things: Dandelion salad as described in this video about Great Depression Cooking. I had always heard dandelion was edible, but I never knew quite how to prepare it. We liked it!
(A special thanks to Shanda for the recommendation.)
Fuzzy, our caterpillar, is still alive and kickin'- no cocoon yet, though my 4 yo has decided it will be Fuzzy's birthday tomorrow, and we are having a party at 8am. He even called Grandma and Grandpa to personally invite them. I'm guessing with a party at 8am, pancakes are on the menu.
We went on a picnic one recent Sunday after church and sat under a Willow tree on the shore of a lake.
These are the buds we brought back and put in a jar of water on the window sill.
Here they are on Day 1 and today. Leaves and roots have developed now. We read that Willow is one of the only trees that will root itself. So, we could plant this and it might grow into a tree! Hmmm...
Our plum trees are in bloom and they smell Sooooooo wonderful!
The newspaper has been fascinating lately; so are highlighter markers.
He has been highlighting the letters he recognizes.
We did this activity when I taught 1st and 2nd graders. They liked it too!
Last month we started growing a sweet potato vine. We read in a kids gardening book that if you simply put a sweet potato in water it would sprout roots and grow a vine. He wanted to try it out.
See all those roots and the tiny little leaf?
We give it fresh water every few days.
"12. to mount in a scrap book a dozen common wildflowers with leaves (one every week); to name those, describe them in their own words, and say where they found them."
He picked his first wild flower (viola or violet) of the season to press and add to his Leaf and Flower Collection book. More on that to come... Oh, do I have ideas!
He also picked me one for my hair and told me I had to show Daddy how cute I was :)
I wanted to share this wonderful new resource a friend showed to me. We use it along with our breakfast Bible reading. It is laid out story-by-story. There are photographs of the actual places mentioned in the stories (the Sea of Galilee etc.) and also famous works of art depicting Biblical scenes. We don't use it every day, but often. It really helps make the stories come to life, though I think they already are alive in his mind/imagination based on the way he plays throughout the day.
I think Daniel in the Lion's Den is stunning!
I had to call my old college roommate to remind me how we used to make this recipe. I can't believe I forgot! A yummy little snack. Spinach tortillas, grated cheese, a dash of salt, broiled until crisp.
We had a lovely Easter with family (despite everybody but me having nasty coughs.- Anyone have a good natural remedy for easing the cough of a 5 month old? Poor baby!)
One last thing before I end this overloaded blog post. We're still bird watching. I set up this little corner on the window ledge with binoculars, bird books and an Audobon Society plush Chickadee that makes the sound when you squeeze it. We have lots of them around.
He usually calls me over when he spots a bird nearby. We try to quietly crack the window open so we can listen for the bird's call/sound. Sometimes we visit this website after the bird has left, to see if we identified it right.
This is a Northern Flicker; one of a pair we watched feed for quite a while in the yard.
We took a little walk around the yard this weekend.
The weather was absolutely gorgeous and the sunlight was amazing in that golden hour before sunset. The birds were chirping all around us.
With the intentional practice we're starting to be able to distinguish their calls.
The elm tree
This is the first year we have seen asparagus coming up.
The poor plant has been transplanted 3 x's but is in it's final resting place, I think.
The rhubarb is greening nicely too.
My son discovered this plant growing in the grass in the front yard.
It's leaves are very thick and velvety like Lamb's Ear, but we don't know what it is.
We wandered down to our little creek bed, splashed around, and threw in some grass.
One of our goals for our son by age 6 is to be able to describe in his own words 3 walks and 3 views. So, we choose to take him repeatedly to local places of beauty to take walks and enjoy the views. This usually happens over the weekends.
This next place is one of my favorites. My husband took this special picture of baby and I taking in the view.
Once when we came here we startled a Great Blue Heron who was standing on this very spot. It was wonderful to watch him spread his wings and fly off into the sky.
Looking out over the edge. Notice his sheriff badge he just had to wear? :)
18. to keep a caterpillar and tell the life-story of a butterfly from his own observations.
My son found a Wooly Bear caterpillar this week. It must have over-wintered. It came off a tree stump, probably from underneath the bark.
We are excited to try keeping it to watch it's phases and turn into an Isabella Tiger Moth (if it's the same as the one on the site where we did our research.) We looked up some info on how to keep it alive here.
I didn't know the folklore that if the brown stripe in the middle is wider than the black ones, we will have a long winter ahead. This one seems to have survived our very mild winter just fine, and the brown stripe doesn't look too wide to me!
I also read that there are towns that have Wooly Bear festivals every year and race their caterpillars. The winning caterpillar is the one whose stripe predict the coming winter weather.
I hope this little guy makes it! We haven't had much luck in the past. Though we never tried keeping one in this nifty cage or researching its needs. If it does live, we plan to make an emergence cage to watch it a while before we let it go. (see site above)
I'm writing down his observations on a paper every day or so to put in his school binder. He likes to look back and see what we've done so far this year.
Our pumpkin seed is growing rapidly now.
"I am recording this so that future generations will also praise the Lord for all He has done." -Psalm 102:18
I am a mama to 2 sweet brothers who aspires to a "thinking love" toward my children.
Take a peek into our journey towards a living education inspired by the writings of Charlotte Mason.
Be sure to leave me a comment if you're inspired!
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"In this field small efforts are honoured with great rewards, and we perceive that the education we are giving exceeds all that we intended or imagined.”
“It may be that the souls of all children are waiting for the call of knowledge to awaken them to delightful living.”