When we first started participating in the Outdoor Hour, I have to admit to having very little confidence in approaching the study of nature. Anna Botsford Comstocks ‘Handbook of Nature Study’ (link on the left sidebar in my ‘books we use for nature study’ widget) sat on my bookshelf for a whole year before I discoveredBarb’s Outdoor Hour Challenges. My dear friend Charise and I would take out our copies of the Handbook and discuss how we were to use it to create lessons that were engaging and hands-on for our children. Then the Handbook would go back on our respective shelves -LOL.
Now that we have been following Barb’s well laid out challenges, not only have I learnt and continue to learn so much about the natural world around me, but I have grown in confidence to the point where I can now see something that is happening in nature in our area and put together a lesson utilising the Handbook. It no longer fills me with dread as I stare at this HUGE volume of nature information. It has become my tool, and trusted companion. As I read through the Handbooks pages, I can almost picture Anna Botsford Comstock exploring her surrounds and faithfully creating her nature notes.
Today’s challenge over at Barb’s place was the Iris. Over here in England – or at least in our little part of Lancashire – things seem to be running a little behind schedule. Perhaps it is due to our cooler than usual Spring. With no Iris’s about yet – at least none that I have access to – I decided to focus on what we do have an abundance of at the moment. Meadow Buttercups!
What DELIGHTFUL little flowers! They are just brilliant in their glossy colour and have been providing the children with much delight as they use them to ‘light up’ their chins. In fact, as I read through the Handbook Of Nature Study’s Buttercup entries (pages 516 – 518), the following excerpt made me smile, “Probably it is due to this luminous colour that one child is able to determine whether another likes butter or not, by noting when the flower is held beneath the chin, if it makes a yellow reflection;…” This must be a very natural action for children as without any input from me, the girls have been reflecting Buttercups off their chins for the last few days. Delighted with the way they light up with gold.
We didn’t have far to walk in order to come into contact with some Buttercups. The are surrounding our cottage and every walkway along the Woodland at the moment. The yellow of these little flowers is so brilliant that I really battled to get a close-up for you…
The inside of the flowers seems to have ‘varnish’ painted on the petals. So brilliant is the reflection of the sun that it was impossible to get a clear shot outdoors! After having read up on buttercups, I simply casually imparted what I had learnt to the girls as we gathered bunches of Buttercups for the nature table and as reference for our nature journal entries. All very relaxed and by the by. I think that is why the girls love our Nature Hour so much. It does not ‘feel’ like a lesson. It simply is what it is – bringing them into contact with nature and letting them alone.
They must be let alone, left to themselves a great deal, to take in what they can of the beauty of earth and heavens; for of the evils of modern education few are worse than this––that the perpetual cackle of his elders leaves the poor child not a moment of time, nor an inch of space, wherein to wonder––and grow. At the same time, here is the mother’s opportunity to train the seeing eye, the hearing ear, and to drop seeds of truth into the open soul of the child, which shall germinate, blossom, and bear fruit, without further help or knowledge of hers. – Charlotte Mason Vol 1 pg. 44
Once back inside, the girls worked on their Meadow Buttercup notebooking pages I created. Feel free to download your pagehere. On our way back to Spaw Cottage (our home) we grabbed a bit of that tree I mentioned wanting to identifythis morning.
It is the Common Hawthorne Tree. So pretty! We refreshed our nature table after our notebooking pages were complete. Our nature display table had become the ‘Breakfast Bar’ while our visitors were with us :o)
I found this beautiful little poem in ‘Favourite Poems Old and New’. This is another perk of nature study – We are introduced to beautiful poetry that I don’t think we would have become acquainted with without having a focus area. I just love this poem – I’m sure you will find it as delightful as I did.
by Wilfrid Thorley
There must be fairy miners
Just underneath the mould,
Such wondrous quaint designers
Who live in caves of gold.
They take the shining metals
And beat them into shreds;
And mould them into petals,
To make the flowers’ heads.
Sometimes they melt the flowers
To tiny seeds like pearls,
And store them up in bowers
For little boys and girls.
And still a tiny fan turns
Above a forge of gold, To keep, with fairy lanterns,
The world from growing old.