Spring Blossoms

We have experienced an unusually mild, dry winter.  There has been no snow on our mountains and yet we have experienced some of the worst frost ever.  Since it is still August, it came as a surprise to find our fruit orchard full of blossoming trees.  My previous early spring blossom sketches in my nature diary were done September last year.Blossoms1

My youngest daughter led me out to enjoy the warm sunshine and we went to view “our” Maple tree. We first measured our Maple tree  in 2011 and the little tree was just as tall as Miss.L12, just over 1 meter high.  This spring it is twice my height!  I was glad that my nature journal contained many of my older nature study pages because we could compare our current tree study with previous years and seasons.

Sketch Book Blossoms 001

Sketch Book Blossoms 004

We spent time looking at the variety of fruit trees’ blossoms.  I was utterly enchanted by our blue berry blossoms which looked like little bells.  We sketched and painted and we both experimented with wet-on-wet water painting which worked wonderfully! (I’m afraid that my scanner did not pick up the colors of our watercolors.)

Sketch Book Blossoms 002 Sketch Book Blossoms 003

As our time was running out, and we had already spent much of our morning outside (time flies when you are having fun sketching), I sent Miss.L12 with the camera to capture all the blossoms.  We plan to use the photos to sketch and paint or simply to compare the differences between the different blossoms.

Blossoms

We are so happy to enjoy our lovely early spring nature study here in South Africa and wish a happy autumn to those living in the Northern Hemisphere!

Blessings,

(Contributing this post to the Outdoor Hour Challenge Blog Carnival.)

Swallows

Outdoor Hour Challenge this month features

Birds

This past week we looked at the swallows flying over our farm dam.  They flitted down,  quickly skimming over the surface of the water and scooping up tiny insects, and then flying up to join the flock.  swallow flies over water

I tried to watch just one swallow. He must have made at least 5 catches before I lost him in the flock.  They fly in seeming random circles, up, around and then down to the water.  Such simple freedom!

I suggested that Miss.L and I find the swallow’s nests.  But we were disappointed.

Several nests were old and broken.P1160092

We could see the grass and feather lining inside this broken nest.  There was not one active swallow nest under any eave or in any shed or storeroom.

We wondered why.

They must be nesting somewhere … but where?P1160096

We found evidence of new starts on nests under an eave, but for some reason, the swallows left to try somewhere else.

Our nearest neighbor is over 700m away. Perhaps they are nesting there?

Our bird nature walk has turned us into detectives.

Who knows what we’ll find.

Back home we researched the swallows on Google and we enjoyed Anna Botsford Comstock’s description in The Handbook of Nature Study of the different swallows ~

“The barn swallow has a distinctively tailor-made appearance; its red-brown vest and iridescent blue coat, with deeply forked “coat tails” give it an elegance of style which no other bird, not even the chic cedar waxwing, can emulate.” (page 111)

Lovely!

Blessings,

I will share this post with the Outdoor Hour Challenge Carnival.

Rocks & Stones Experience

We enjoyed our month of Rock Outdoor Hour Challenges and my own Stones and Rocks discipleship week.

Rocks & StonesAlthough we have been outdoors most days, and have quite an impressive new rock and stone collection on our table, we have not approached our time scientifically.  I enjoy my child’s natural delight and detailed observations, but we did not research, compare, investigate, analyze, or even note our findings.

It was more a simple pleasure.  

And Charlotte Mason would approve.  She encourages us to give our children regular opportunities to get in touch with God’s creation and to allow these experiences to form a source of delight that will last throughout their lifetime.

So, with this as my long-term approach, I am confident that a scientific approach may develop in time.

(May I encourage young moms not to do what I did when I started homeschool? In my early days with my eldest child, I over-emphasized our nature study sessions and made it too intense, too heavy.  I was very ‘results’ orientated.  This approach stunted my child’s natural delight and she eventually pulled out of our outdoor hour times.)

Right now, our nature study is planned as a natural nature experience!

How have you enjoyed your nature study times?  What works for your children?  Have you any tips for new moms? Please share in the comments.

Blessings,

This post was submitted to the Outdoor Hour Challenge carnival.

Discipleship with Stones & Rocks

I love combining subjects and themes!7-stones-300x240

Our Nature Study and Outdoor Hour Challenge (OHC) theme for this month is

ROCKS

It works wonderfully with a Bible Study!

Here’s your free week’s discipleship with stones and rocks ~ Discipleship with Rocks and Stone

stones & rocks 1

Each day presents a simple practical outdoor activity, provides prompts for personal reflection, includes some relevant scriptures and suggests an application.

stones & rocks 2Inspired by Leef met hart & siel (A South African Christian Magazine) November 2012.

Enjoy!

Blessings,

Journal Mammals

We live on a farm, so it was easy to study a whole range of mammals for our weekly Outdoor Hour Challenge

horses, sheep, lambs, cats, dogs, mice, and a heavily pregnant cow!

I encouraged the kids to sketch and/or paint the animals of their choice, and took our “What to Draw and How to Draw”  sketch notes by E.G. Lutz along, but when her pictures did not turn out as she wanted, Miss.L10 became discouraged .

I gave her the camera and asked her to take several photos of the animals.

She could simply print out the photos she liked and write her observations, or use the photos to make more realistic sketches.

I enjoyed sketching and painting several of our farm animals ~

subtly read selections from Anna Botsford Comstock’s “Handbook of Nature Study” and we discussed the cow in quite a lot of detail.  We loved the description of “illuminated with gentle eyes”  because we all think our cow’s eyes are mesmerizing!

Despite our genuine hands-on work with our gorgeous Jersey milk cows, Anna’s scientific information about milk production was really interesting and her detailed descriptions of the different cow breeds made us examine our Milly with new eyes.  Her bony hips and slightly concave spine and dainty legs are characteristic of her breed.  We smiled at the description of her “fly brush” tail as we have all had a swipe across the head at some time while milking!

I hope to read a little more about horses and sheep as we spend more time this week completing our mammal studies.

What have you enjoyed in this month’s OHC?

Blessings,

Spring Maple Tree Study for OHC

It was a beautiful spring day and we studied our very young maple tree.

Acer circinatum (Vine Maple) leaves showing th...

Image via Wikipedia

We planted the maple sapling last summer and it had made a lovely show in autumn.  Then it stood, small, bare and forgotten the entire winter.

Now, with the warmth and longer daylight, the leaves just budded and the tree looked tender and vulnerable in its spring awakening.

Before we went outside, we studied leaf shapes and terminology with biological terms, just to offer a richer vocabulary for accurate descriptions ~

leaf blade, leaf tip, veins, petioles,

shapes like palmate, ovate, lancelate,

leaf arrangements such as even, compound,pinnate

leaf edges such as serrated edge, scalloped, entire and so on.

Barb’s OHC Spring Maple Tree Challenge required us to carefully observe the leaves and blossoms.

So, with our indoor work done in just a few minutes, we took our notebook page, clipboards, pens and pencils and went outside.  We sat on the grass very close to the tree, looking, listening, quietening … and then journalled.

I love these sketches!

My middle-schooler journalled first.  Then she outlined the one little leaf I allowed the girls to pull off the tree and so she captured the exact size.  She drew in the veins in detail. Then she did a leaf rubbing.

When her younger sister saw the leaf juice made a mark on the paper, she also took the leaf to make a rubbing …

She drew around the edges of the leaf.

Then she made a rubbing, but her rubbing was different.   She placed the leaf on top of her page and rolled her pen firmly across the leaf blade.

Then she traced the marks the veins had left on the page.

Clever.I journalled and sketched in my nature journal.

I focused on the leaf edges, veins and leaf arrangements in detail.

Then I sketched the small tree as viewed from a distance.

I really love our time outdoors.

It is so important for me to appreciate nature with the kids.  If I don’t take part in this discovery, I become the teacher/ observer, taking photos and reading the study guides, which is partly why I think we stopped doing regular nature walks when we first started our homeschooling.  I have to admit that my best efforts in “making it educational” and “teaching the facts and details”  have caused more harm than good.  My over-zealous approach has often caused my older children to withdraw.

Now, trying it again with my younger children, I tell myself,

“Keep it simple, take it slow, enjoy and savour this time with them.”

Blessings,

Organizing our Nature Study Notebooks

We’ve  just started regular Nature Study with Outdoor Hour Challenge with Barb at her blog  Handbook of Nature Study.

Typically, I spent about 3 days organizing the sudden wealth of pages I downloaded from her site …

  • How to get started
  • Outdoor Hour Challenges
  • Notebook pages (from my NotebookingPages.com purchased cd as well as Barb’s free pages)

and then I made some of my own new Nature Study pages

  • Dividers for the 4 seasons:
  • Spring
  • Summer
  • Autumn (Fall)
  • Winter
  • Tree Study
  • Leaves
  • Nature Study Cover pages for the children’s files

These pages are for my use, but I wanted to share them here for your Nature Study file ~

apologies for uploading these files after publishing :)

Blessings,