Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Finally ... we're doing nature study!

After two-and-a-half years of attempting to implement more and more Charlotte Mason into my homeschool, we've finally succeeded in doing a nature hike/study! Now, most of you will probably be shocked by this confession -- after all, nature IS all around and it shouldn't be THAT hard to get three littles out and about, walking in God's creation. But, my only reason -- not an excuse, but a reason -- is that living where we lived, it was extremely hard to find interesting, provocative or FUN nature walks.

Sure, we went to the Zoo, but they didn't want to ever draw any animals they saw -- "we can't make them look right".

Sure, we tried tree identification on our lot -- you'd think four or five different types of oaks, a few sweet gums, a few dogwoods, magnolias and an elm psread over half an acre would be exciting. But not for my littles!

Sure, we tried hikes in the BlueRidge Mountains -- but they never wanted to narrate or draw pictures of that stuff.

So, what's different? What's changed?

We recently moved out to my in-laws in the "country". Near the house there is a paved street that meanders through pure Southern countryside for a bit over a mile. It starts with two arms of a Y and ends in a cul-de-sac. It's perfect:
  • as the walk is not too long
  • we don't have to get in a car to get there
  • most importantly, the kids are fascinated with all the natural growth around them!

But the best part: up at the top of the road is THE hallmark of a Southern country area. Let me explain for those of my readers not true Southerners (that would be you Yankees!). In the South, we don't tear down old buildings -- we let them fall down, we let them disintegrate back to their roots. Tin roofs rust; wooden barn walls collapse, and the ground takes back its own.

The really cool part is the things you can find by looking closely. Dogwood and oak "volunteers" (that would be a weed you DO want) push their way through the slow decay. Blackberry bushes are green and lush -- promising summer's bounty of juicy, drippy, delicious fruit. Snakes and other ground "critters" live and lurk in the tangled mass.

This is the reverse of urban-renewal. This is nature-renewal.

This is nature at work to recreate what was there before the barn that's lying almost-flat, shrouded with blackberry vines and poison ivy vines (a good teachable moment!). This is nature beckoning the six and seven year olds to investigate her handiwork.

And my kids (and their mom) are enjoying every bit of it!


Alice said...

>>This is nature-renewal.

And it sounds great! What a beautiful, educational, and memorable experience for all of you.

Mary G said...

Alice -- thanks for commenting. The time here with the in-laws will be very good for all of us!

And the nature around here is fabulous!

JennGM said...

Happy Feast of St. Athanasisu, Mary! I was praying for your little homeschool today. And what a wonderful way to spend the day!