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Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Nature Walks: Why Cape Cod Was a Good Choice

We live on top of a steep hill, about 1/2 mile from a beautiful little harbor (and about 1.5 miles from an even more beautiful beach/tidal marsh area). Every day, we walk down the hill with our kids (and two neighbors' kids) so that Sara can catch the school bus. At the crest of the hill, we can see the bay... the boats... and the Massachusetts mainland.

On one of our first homeschooling days, we decided to keep walking after the bus came - and visit the harbor. I thought it would be a chance to reconnect with the water and the the fishermen... maybe throw a line in the water.

But Tom had other ideas.

The first day, he found six geese, a cormorant (looks like a snake in the water with its long, curved neck), a school of silversides, a crab, a bunch of mussels, and a crab in a crab trap.

On the second day, he found shrimp, scallops, and an american eel.

Since then, he's found an array of sea birds, mollusks, fish... and three baby eels. He even saw a scallop scooting along the bottom of the harbor.

One day - it was a full moon - the tide was so high that he couldn't go under the dock to observe his favorite pigeons in their nest. Another day the tide was so low that the traps attached to the dock were sitting on dry land.

I kept looking at the boats and people - but for Tom it was all about everything else... We went for walks so that I could explore the architecture and envy the faboo waterfront homes. Tommy observed the eel grass, the juvenile fish colonies and the baby crabs.

On Monday, a "day off" (for Sara's in-service day at school), we went to the beach with a clear container and a magnifying glass. Sara collected snails and hermit crabs, and we watched them scramble to get out (they didn't make it). We observed their tiny claws and antennae, and saw their eyeballs for the first time.

At first I came back with serious intentions. I made Tom make a sort of graph showing what we'd seen and how many of them, on which day. After two days I was sick of it - and he didn't seem to see the point.

Another day, after a farm visit and longer walk, I had Tom write up a "my trip to the farm" essay. This went a lot better: he wrote a full couple of pages describing the experience - far more than he'd ever written before! It wasn't grammatical, but it was copious and (I think!) heartfelt.

For the last few days, we've collected leaves and seeds and such. For our Fall Unit, Tom and his dad have been organizing and identifying leaves, mounting them on paper (with plain old scotch tape) and labeling them. In a few days we'll punch holes and tie them together in a sort of nature journal (nowhere near as "high end" as a real Charlotte Mason Nature Journal, but close enough for jazz, I'm thinking).

We also did one of those old-fashioned crafts: gather lots of colorful leaves. Arrange them on wax paper. Put another piece of wax paper on top. Iron. Ta da - a beautiful "stained glass" art project!


Anonymous said...

This sounds ideal. Are you seeing a change in your son and his learning already?

Canvas Grey

Lisa Jo Rudy said...

I am seeing a lot of changes - though I already had a pretty good idea that nature walks and observation would be a big hit.

One thing that astounds me is how willing Tommy is to try new things! In the past, it's been a real struggle - but I think that because he's more in control he's less anxious... and thus more willing to challenged.

Just a guess...

The Glasers said...

Tommy sounds like a born naturalist. Do you think he would enjoy keeping a nature journal? Ambleside Online lists many books for people who enjoy nature.

Marie said...

Tommy does sound like a natural. I would really like to encourage you to try a daily devotional with your walks... or as an evening bonding time with Tommy. It is such a captivating and inspirational way to connect nature walks and God. Blessings will abound!