Monday, August 30, 2010

Nature Study

     Nature study is Anna's favorite subject in school, and I enjoy it a lot too. I started having Anna keep a nature journal last spring, and I started one too, so that she would have an example of what we were doing. Although I don't make entries as often as she does, I've had fun with it. Keeping a nature journal has really sparked Anna's interest in the natural world, because she is always on the look out for something to draw. An odd spider that she might have not noticed (or been freaked out by) before, is now a potential item to draw, so she stops and takes note.
     We don't do a nature study on every thing that is recored in her journal, but I am always on the look out for anything that would be good to do a nature study on. The wasp nest below is an example. I found it in our shed, and after making sure it was abandoned, I carefully removed it and brought it inside for our study.  I used Anna Botsford Cromstock's "A Handbook of Nature Study" to help us find out all sorts of interesting information on wasps, and then we peeled apart the nest to find the catacombs inside. She glued some of the lovely paper to her journal.  I love the swirly patterens the wasps make.

Dragonflies- Before we found out their name, Anna called them "cow dragonflies"
     Here is an example of how Anna and I record the same thing in our journals.  Black swallowtail catapillars eat parsley, so we have lots of them around here.  I always grow extra for the catapillars. :) 
Black swallowtail butterfly in it's various stages 
A black Swallowtail caterpillar from my nature journal

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Discovering our style

     I have never been one to follow one set curriculum, or subscribe to one person's methods or theories, which is why I am slightly surprised myself that we are pretty much entirely following Charlotte Mason's methods for our homeschool.
     I found out about Charlotte Mason last winter when I was once again online looking for better ways to teach my daughter.  I had heard about Charlotte Mason before, but always very vaguely, and I had the impression that it was a very laid back, let kids absorb what they will from nature, kind of approach. I like structure and routine, and although I believe that children can learn a great deal if left to their own devices, I don't trust in that completely for my children's education.  So basically I thought, Charlotte Mason- Not for me. 
     When I finally did start to learn about Charlotte Mason's methods, I fell in love.  It was pretty much everything I was doing already, but oh, so much better!  I had so much fun planning and getting read for this year, now that I have a definite plan for what we are doing.  Pulling resources from here and there like I did last year, was exhausting, and I always had the feeling I was leaving something out.  The end result was a stressed out and tired Mama.  Even though we are only two weeks into our school year, Anna already says she likes what we are doing better than last year, and I have had so much less feet dragging!

Saturday, August 28, 2010


     This is about our homeschooling journey.  This is to be our first "official" school year, since Anna is starting first grade. Although Anna is technically my only student, the twins are always eager to be a part of everything, so my big goal for this year is to learn how to teach Anna with two little one year old Dynamos getting into (and on top of) everything!
     One of my great new ideas were activity boxes.  I have six boxes filled with new and fun things that (in theory) the babies will play with contentedly in their pack 'n plays while I teach Anna.  So, the first day of school I set up the pack 'n plays, select a box that's sure to enthral them, and get ready for everything to work out just as planned. Things didn't go quite like I had anticipated.  Anna ended up being the one who was enthralled; the babies were entertained for about two seconds. I still haven't given completely up on the boxes, but for right now Anna is just way too distracted by them.
     While I am waiting for the next great new idea to hit, we continue to try and cram as much school into the babies nap time as possible.  Right now it's working, but I still keep thinking, "There has got to be a better way!" And I guess that sums up my homeschool philosophy; keep looking for the better way.