Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Nature Study in our (tiny) back yard

One of the biggest components of a Charlotte Mason education and one that sets her apart from many others is the importance of nature study!

I was really blessed to find out about and read her philosophies on education when Rebekah was two.

One thing that I immediately incorporated into our life style was getting out into nature, exploring and observing. I found that to my surprise, I actually liked being out there. I was a city girl, grew up in a concrete jungle in one of the biggest cities in India and didn't like the out doors too much. Then I moved to Australia and a few years later married my dearest husband who just loves nature, bush walking, being out there in nature etc! Opposites do attract!

Anyway I've digressed. I gradually started to 'tolerate' the outdoors with my hubby.

However it was not until I started getting outdoors with Rebekah and truly 'observing' nature, taking note of the flowers, the trees, the birds etc that I actually started to like nature.

Nature has so much to teach us. "The heavens display the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of His hands" is so true!
There is also so much joy in truly taking in nature. I now find it very relaxing being outdoors.

So.... we were living in small unit(apartment) when we began our venture into nature study.
I remember one of the very first experiences with Rebekah and nature study: it was observing a bird on our balcony and identifying it as a common myna (sorry guys, I did not even know what a myna was before that! I know, I know, how bad was I, I told you I grew up in a concrete jungle:) ). That experience is etched in my memory because it was so exciting for both of us to observe a bird and then identify it for the first time from a book!

Fast forward about four years and it has become second nature to us! Rebekah can identify and name least fifteen to twenty birds now.

Late last year we had a long period of rain and we had to stay indoors a lot. I remember one rainy day we saw a black bird in our back yard. School being done for the day, we stood near our glass sliding door and looked out over our rainy back yard, spending considerable time just watching this little blackbird, observing it to see what it was up to. It was actually one that was nesting between our fence and our neighbours fence! After observing it for some time Rebekah yelled out " I just LOVE nature". Any Charlotte Mason mum would tell you what joy that brings to her heart! I was thrilled to say the least!

So, when I was working on our end of term reports last year, as I was collating all the work we had done for 'nature study' to include in my reports, I found that there was SO much we had done in our tiny back yard, which actually is a court yard to be more accurate!

Below are just some of the things we've observed and studied from our suburban court yard :

- A baby blackbird (that fell out of it's nest - mentioned above)

- A centipede

- A tadpole that we kept to watch it grow and develop but which unfortunately escaped when we were on holidays last year after it's legs grew:)

A flower from one of our plants:

We still don't know it's name but it's from this plant below, a very common one around here but I can't seem to find it in our flower book! Can anyone help me out here? :)

All of these we read about and / or drew in our nature journals.

Besides the above, we observed ants, kept an ant farm, observed the sky, clouds, stars, moon, the trees change with the seasons, birds, flowers, spiders, slaters etc.

I would say that because our eyes have been opened to observe nature, we find / found there was so much to observe and learn about just from our tiny court yard!

Charlotte Mason said the following about nature study:

"We are all meant to be naturalists, each in his own degree, and it is inexcusable to live in a world so full of the marvels of plant and animal life and to care for none of these things."

“There is no part of a child's education more important than that he should lay - by his own observation - a wide basis of facts towards scientific knowledge in the future."

"Let them once get in touch with nature and a habit is formed which will be a source of delight and habit through life."

Nature study is meant to form a foundation for the higher years of science study besides being a source of delight!
It truly is a source of delight to us at the moment and I am trusting that it's also laying a strong foundation in Rebekah that will help her as she learns more science in the years to come!

p.s I am in the process of submitting this post to the CM Blog carnival (who? lil ol' me? I know, who would have guessed!):)
If you are wanting to read more, click on the Fisher Academy blog on my blog list (on the right) and you'll find many more blog posts by others on Charlotte Mason!


Keri On said...

Not certain how I found my way to your blog! What a great post - a good encouragement to get outside! Thanks and God bless you! Have fun exploring His wonderful creation.

Clara said...

I dont' know why I didn't think of starting a nature journal with the children before, but your blog post here has inspired me!! You've made it sound like so much fun - we already love looking at things in nature, and I think a journal will make it perfect. It's also a great idea for seeing the children's progress over the years in their drawing skills and observation skills and all the things they've learned from nature! :) Thanks for the "inspiration", Rosemary!! :)

Butterfly said...

Rest assured, you're much more advanced in your knowledge than me! I'm awarding you 100% for attitude, effort and application in Nature Studies.

I am trying to correct my lack of nature knowledge as I learn alongside my children. Unfortunately they have picked up a small dose of my obsessive avoidance of ants, mozzies and magpies ... makes for jumpy picnics! I try really hard not to show my fear of birds (do they notice me duck when one flies a little too close?), or at least explain it in a 'silly mummy' lighthearted way. So far, they have a cautious love of all kinds of creatures.

Richele said...

What a great head start you've had on reading CM's writings! Your backyard nature study looks delightful and Rebekah is definitely building her powers of accurate observation.

..and what do you mean "lil' ol'" you?! You have lots of CM carnival worthy posts!

Jo said...

Rosemary - I have one of those plants but I can't tell you what it is - mine grows in the garden.

If you teach your children to love nature, when they leave home as adults they will continue to love nature and what is going on around them. I was thrilled when my son asked me to help him grow a veggie garden, all my years of sharing my love of gardening has rubbed off onto him.

joyfulmum said...

Clara - I had to start a nature journal alongside Rebekah as it encourages her to draw alongside me though that may be different in your case as you have two kids:)
we truly enjoy our nature journalling time!
Vanessa and Richele, THANKYOU! :)
Jo that is encouraging about your son!
and Vanessa, yes I have to 'hide' my dislike and fear of certain creepy crawlies as I didn't want Rebekah to pick up on those and let it hinder her. Mind you I've not always good at this! lol!

Sarah said...

Hi Rosemary, it's just making the most of all situations isn't it? xxx

Mrs Adept said...

I have to confess that Nature Study is so difficult for me - as that would mean that I would have to go outside. I have to go on walks.

I am however going to try again. :o)

Maybe I should just hire someone to walk my children? LOL

Juanita said...

Hi there

I've got those plants too - I believe they're called "Dietes" pronounced dye-ee-teas.

Botanical name: Dietes iridioides

joyfulmum said...

Juanita, thanks for popping by and helping me out with the name of that flower! I will have to enter it into our nature journal:)

Beloved's Bride said...

I came over from "CM blog hop in April". I really enjoyed reading your post. I thought it was very encouraging. We are about to start a Botony unit so I am sure we wil be seeing God's creations from a wonderful different perspective.

Penney Douglas said...

My kids are very observant of nature (more than I am). I like what you said about it becoming a habit and building a foundation for later science learning. I think my kids have gained a lot from our interest and observation of nature through the years.

Eve said...

I was just visiting your country with my husband and our youngest daughter two days ago! The things you posted about that you found in your backyard are really neat! Our "nature study" this morning consisted of watching pigeons fly over our roof, watching out for the red "fire" ants so they didn't bite our bare toes and feeling the warm desert wind blow through our hair. I look forward to reading more of your posts!