Tuesday, May 31, 2011

A Day of Nature Study

A Day of Nature Study: Charlotte Mason Style

I want to share with you a bit about what a day of Nature Study looks like at our house.  I pattern my homeschool after the Charlotte Mason style of education.  If you are not familiar with Charlotte Mason you should get familiar with her, especially if you are a home educator.  I love her gentle methods of educating.  Instead of doing a set science curriculum, we do nature study.  All of my children are of the age that I believe they need to be taking in the magnificence of God's creation. We observe flowers, trees, bodies of water, insects, weather patterns, animals and anything dealing with nature. As they each get older we will take on the more serious subjects of science such as biology and chemistry but, for now we observe what's going on in the world around us.

Today's post is what a day of nature study looked like for us last week.  We are on summer break, but when you learn for the sake of learning it doesn't matter if school is in or out of session.  We started our day with a walk on the county road that we live on.  The 2 oldest road their bikes and I pushed the littles in the double stroller.  We noticed the wild flowers were blooming abundantly.  As we walked to our halfway point and turned to come back, Lane stopped to pick and sample some honeysuckle.  We all enjoyed some of the tasty goodness!  Then the children began picking white daisies.  They picked and picked and picked.  Lucky for me, my stroller has a big basket.  Across from the daisy patch was a field of yellow flowering weeds.  We decided they would make a nice addition to our bouquets.  After all the picking was done, we headed back to the house.  The children played outside while I arranged the flowers and placed them all over our home. Then I prepared lunch and we ate it in the shade out back.  I had placed one big bouquet on our lunch table.  During lunch, we decided we should get to know the white daisy. In order to do that I referred to the Anna Comstock-Handbook of Nature Study. This is a fabulous resource for nature study.  I was blessed to have a friend give me an extra copy she had but you can find it on Amazon.  I think there may even be a free e-book version available.  I found a black and white picture and a description of the white daisy in the handbook. The children and I discussed the parts of the flower, the growing season, the germination cycle and etc.  Simply.... we are eating and chatting about the flowers the children had picked that are sitting in the middle of the table. 

Before I cleared the table, I asked the children if they would like to sketch the flowers in there nature notebook.  They both asked if they could paint.  So we moved to our larger picnic table.  I brought out sketch pads and paints and away they went. A nature notebook is simply a sketch pad where your child draws what he or she has seen in nature. This is the first time my kids have used paint and we were very careful to make sure it dried before they closed there books.  Lilli labels and dates her pages on her own. If she wants to write descriptions or poetry alongside her work she is welcome to do so.  I usually date Lane's pages, but we don't write much on his pages yet. This is a book that is never graded.  It's a place where the children have the freedom to do nature art work without fear of "doing it wrong." This is also a book they will be able to look back on a year from now and see how much they have improved in their sketching and also have a picture to remind them of what they have learned in relationship to nature.  

That evening they showed there sketch book to their dad and told him about picking the daisies and some of the things they learned about the flower.  This is a typical nature study lesson for the Hodges family.

Lijah wanted to paint too. So I brought out water colors for him.

Lilli first sketched with a pencil and then added paint.

Lane likes to mix colors to get the shades he wants.  You can see his paint tray before he started mixing...a shield is there too. Just in case he needs to defend himself. :)

This is the cover of our reference book.  The book is really thick. 859 pages thick.

White Daisies!~

If nature study is a new concept to you I would love to answer an questions you may have.  If you are an old pro at this  type of thing leave me a comment and tell me about one of your favorite nature lessons or a way that you do nature study that I might like to add into my bag of tricks. :)

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Life lessons learned on horseback

My family has just returned from our first horseback riding vacation in the Shawnee National Forest in Illinois.  Croix and I had been many times before as children and we even spent a week there for our one year wedding anniversary.  For about 10 years we have been without horses, but t 2 years ago we began praying "Lord, if you want us to have horses again than make a way."  He did and in those 2 years we have been blessed with 4 free horses.  We took our kids on an amazing long weekend road trip and I have to say I learned some leadership lesson from my kiddos.

We set out for our first ride and I think we were all a bit nervous.  Picture it if you can.  Lilli is on her sorrel horse Knee-High. Lane is riding his little mare Skip. I'm on Jeff and I also have on my Snugli pack with Ledjer strapped in. Knee-High, Jeff & Skip all have had many hours of trail time. . Croix on the other hand was on Jade. Jade is a 4 year old he has broke himself. He has lots of experience and he has done an amazing job.  My man is quite the horseman. Anyway, Jade has never been anywhere but the good old southern Indiana dirt path.  We weren't sure how she would react to the rocky Illinois trail.  Croix was ridimg her and Lijah would be on front with him.  Anyway, here we were heading off into the woods for our adventure to see some amazing rock formations.  My parents were along for the ride too.

We had quite the day enjoying God's creation.  Everyone loved it and after about 4 hours we found ourselves back at camp safe and sound.  I observed my children that day and I learned from them and I think these are lessons that you may learn from too.

1) At one point on the trail we were going down hill, it became rocky and Croix says to Lane "Just give Skip her head and she will follow the other horses." Lane followed his daddy's instructions and wouldn't you know Skip didn't follow the other horses.  She veered from the path about 2 feet, took a less traveled section of the trail and stumbled a bit.  I'm watching my son hold onto his saddle horn for dear life. I'm thinking the horse is going down and Lane is going with her.  No, that's not how it happened. Skip got her feet under her and kept right on going. Lane straightened his back, adjusted his cowboy hat and road on.I was so very proud of him. Isn't that the way it is in Christian walk sometimes? We follow the voice of God and do what He says, but then we stumble a bit. Things don't go how we expected and we have to decide are we going to hang on and ride it out or are we going to let our fear keep us from hanging on for dear life? I've found that when I ride it out and my trial or struggle is over I can set straight and adjust my hat, thankful that I road out the rough spot.

2) Another mile or 2 down the trail I hear my Lilli start yelling at her horse.  Knee-High has somehow got herself wound up in a vine.  This is making her very agitated which in turn is making Lilli really scared. When she is scared she raises her voice and sounds angry. The peacefulness of the woods was taken over by the screeches of my daughter as Croix tried to talk her through the steps to getting free from the vine.  She kept saying "I can't. I can't do it."  She was beginning to cry.  Finally her horse walked out of it on her own and all was well.  You know fear has the ability to do so much damage to our goals and our desires. My Lilli wanted to ride, she wanted to take in the scenery and maneuver the trails, but if she would have let her fear in that moment of being bound by the vine overcome her, she would have headed back to camp and called it quits for the weekend.  She didn't! She hung in there until the obstacle that was scaring her was no longer an obstacle.  She felt empowered after it was all over.  She knew that she had conquered something inside of her. The next time a scary situation arose  she would know better how to handle it.  She was also so glad that she hadn't missed what was just up ahead.  She saw caves, crevices and sandstones like she'd never seen before.

As I reflect on these two illustrations, I realize that the reasons I often have not stuck with the things God has called me to do is because of my fear of failure. Sometimes I've quit when the trails gotten too rocky. On more than one occasion I have been so overcome with fear that I've stopped dead in my tracks. I may have stopped just before the lookout point of something magnificent. I'm no longer going to do that. What about you? Have you pressed through a hard time or overcome your fears? I would love to hear about it.

Monday, May 23, 2011

The birth of Hodgepodge

     At times in my life I've had to take a break from things, reevaluate some priorities, settle myself and go again.  This blog is my "go again."  I have been blogging at Harmony2Homeschool for 2-3 years.  I have enjoyed blogging about our homeschooling adventures and life on the farm.  This past year, after the birth of our fourth child, I decided I needed to give Harmony2Homeschool a little rest.  Quite frankly there wasn't much "harmony in our homeschool" with a 10 year old, a 5 year old, a 2 year old and a newborn.  I had to take some time to learn how to parent my 4 children.  I also took a few months to reevaluate where I was as a woman.  I take my role as wife and mother very seriously.  It is the role God created me for.  I have settled into that role nicely and now I'm beginning to remember the other things in life that I am passionate about!
     My blogging break is over and I am here at my new place...Hodgepodge.  You will find all kinds of nuggets here.  I will be sharing parenting, homemaking and relationship tidbits.  I will also be offering up leadership thoughts, sales ideas, and even makeup tips for my Mary Kay beauty consultants and customers.  You will get to read about the things I am learning from the scriptures and how God is using my circumstances to teach me how to love him more. Finally, if you are trying to catch a glimpse of what it's like to live as an authentic Christ follower day in and day out then I believe this is the place for you.

     Welcome to the Hodgepodge of my life.