After a few weeks of rain and sickness and sporadic outdoor time, we finally managed to complete the last “Getting Started” Challenge- We had an outdoor picnic!
It was a beautiful day and I packed a lunch and we headed to a park. We met some friends and played awhile first. Z-urchin conquered his recent fear of slides (ever since the fractured shin incident) and the older kids ran around with their friends searching under rocks and in the grass for bugs. They were all very excited to find ants, spiders, caterpillars, and roly-polies.
Shortstop was delighted to watch all of the action around him and then, exhausted by the effort, he fell asleep. I am personally amazed at the many contorted positions in which babies can sleep!
My little princess found a sweet, humble flower that she decided to take home.
After our friends had to go home for lunch, I gave X-man and Princess K a mission: find the perfect spot for a picnic! They chose a place under a big tree and we spread out our blanket and our feast of sandwiches, oranges, string cheese, and carrots. As we sat, we looked around us and listened.
First, we heard a crow cawing. Then we spotted a dog- a mammal to add to our (currently quite short) mammal list! We spotted a couple of squirrels (another mammal!) darting through the grass and then watched in wonder at the sight of leaves falling all around us in the gentle breeze. We collected a few leaves to take home with us.
After lunch, we decided to gather up a bunch of leaves in a big pile to jump in! We all worked hard to gather as many leaves as we could. We made a big pile and they jumped, rolled, and laughed.
We decided when we got home to figure out what the name of the tree was. I pulled out a handy tree guide and matched the leaves to the Red Oak. We then used the leaves we collected to do crayon rubbings in our nature journals.
Recently, I have been rereading Volume 1 of Charlotte Mason’s Original Homeschooling Series. She says, “A child learns from things…. An observant child should be put in the way of things worth observing.” (p 67, 69) My immediate thought was that I need to find or create a list of all things that I must put in front of my children so that they could learn from them. Then as I thought that idea over, I realized it was a bit far-fetched. I might as well get out a dictionary and just delete a few abstract items.
Since I trashed the list idea, I realized I have yet another reason to be thankful for the Outdoor Hour Challenge. The author, Barb, chooses a different focus each month and gives tons of ideas for real things and creatures to look for as we complete our nature walks and nature studies. So, as we complete the outdoor hour challenges this year, we will have opportunities to encounter a variety of real objects. And as I see the focus each month, I will be given an opportunity to think about where to take my children so that they can see real things in each different focus area. I’m excited!
I also realized, as I watched my children play in the rocks in our front yard that plenty of free time -with the television and computer firmly turned off- really does provide children with the time they need to explore real things. Now when I read the story of David and Goliath, my children will really know what smooth stones feel like.
So this outdoor hour challenge gave my children the opportunity to encounter and experience:
1. A caterpillar in the grass- now my children know where these bugs like to live
2. A roly-poly under a rock- now my children know where to start looking for bugs
3. Falling leaves- now my children know why this season is called fall
4. Brown leaves- now my children are interested in why the leaves change color
5. A scampering squirrel- now my children can identify this mammal by its shape and tail
And now I have completed my list of Getting Started Challenges! (I really am a list-girl, I tell you what!) Now I feel like a have a good handle on how to carry out a nature walk and the very important nature talk that must follow so that the children are given words and vocabulary for the real objects (and creatures) they’ve seen. I am excited to keep learning and keep going outside- it is fun for us all!