Tuesday, April 21, 2015

A Nature Walk--Homeschooling adventures

Homeschooling is so much fun.  I definitely didn't think I would be saying that a few years ago, but now I realize it truly can be play.  Learning doesn't have to be so structured and strict (and boring).  And, as I mentioned in a previous post, my teaching style has morphed into something totally different than it was at the beginning of our homeschooling adventure.  When I first began, I had a curriculum all ready to go and would pull all of the days lessons each morning.  It was very structured and Luke really was learning a lot.  But, I have to admit, although there were a lot of fun games, I found it to be a bit boring and repetitive at times.   With our move, our homeschooling really became more relaxed.   Besides just being super busy, I think another reason for the relaxed nature of our homeschooling now is that I am more experienced and am starting to really understand how both of our kids learn.   As I have relaxed and become more comfortable, so has our schooling.  And, I imagine our "curriculum" will continue to get tweaked as we go along and figure out learning styles and my teaching style.

Today we started a "strawberry-related" unit study in preparation for a field trip we plan on taking to a farm to pick strawberries.

Luke and Abbey both did some pattern games and some math.   Then, Luke worked on a word search on strawberry-related words and did a "color-by-sight word" picture(instead of "color by number"), while Abbey painted a strawberry patch.

After we did this "seatwork" we decided it was just too nice to stay inside for any longer!   We spent the entire rest of the day outside.   When i first began homeschooling, I used to say to Luke when it was time to begin our schoolwork for the day, "Ok, let's do some school."  I've learned that I do not have to use that word any longer.  Now, he often doesn't even realize we are doing "school."  For example, when we were doing our seatwork, I told the kids we were going to do some fun things to get ready for our trip to the berry farm.   Then, when we were finished with that work, I told them it was time to go on a fun nature walk.  Of course, there were many learning opportunities along the way, so it was a great learning adventure for both of them.

We decided to try to see how many different varieties of flowers we could find.  We are nearing the end of the wildflower season here, but I knew there would still be a few stragglers.    I let Luke and Abbey take a picture of the flowers with my phone camera when they spotted them.   They did a really good job!

I also had Luke keep a tally sheet of all the flowers we found, so that he could learn about using tallies for counting.

Luke and Abbey decided they wanted to bring a little wagon and a storage container in case they found any treasures they wanted to bring back.

making the trek through our backyard over to the trail along the creek.  
Abbey found a treasure right away.  (I love her chubby wrists and her hello kitty tattoo!)
It wasn't long before we found more treasures.   They found the motherload of pecans and wanted to bring some back for daddy to eat later.   We counted them.
We also found several Mulberry trees with tons of ripe fruit, which I was super-excited about.

Between collecting the pecans and mulberries, we felt like true foragers.  The only way to harvest mulberries is to collect the fruit off of the ground.  If you have one in your yard, you can put a tarp down and then shake the tree.  The ripe fruit then falls on the tarp.  We didn't have a tarp, but I shook the tree a bit and we collected some mulberries from the ground.  They were so yummy!  Luke says he has a new favorite fruit!

They were all over the ground!

This trail is just so lovely. A bonus is there are many benches and picnic tables along the way.  We made use of this one to eat our oranges that we brought as a snack.
Luke found a snail shell, which was his favorite treasure of the day.  We have found a ton of these over the past month.
spotting more treasures
It was such a beautiful day!   The sounds of birds singing glorious songs, the running creek and waterfalls even made it more magnificent.
As we were walking along on our hike, we talked about how awesome God is to create each of these special things.  We saw so many different bugs, plants, trees, flowers, grasses, birds, etc.!  We talked about how God created each individual thing specifically for a purpose.  Luke said, "God is pretty cool. I like God!"  I replied, "He's pretty awesome, isn't He, Luke?"  Abbey exclaimed, "Yeah!"  I asked Luke and Abbey about their favorite treasures from the hike. Here were their responses:

Luke:  "The snail shell"      Abbey:  "The pecans"    And my personal favorite treasure was all the mulberries.  I was like a giddy little kid over those!

By the time we got back, it was time for dinner.  With the weather being so absolutely perfect, of course we had dinner outside in our backyard.  The picnic table was calling for us to sit at it to enjoy our meal as we passed by it with our treasures.

Thankfully, we had plenty of leftovers from last night's meal, so it didn't take too long to prepare.
After dinner, Luke wasn't ready to go inside.  In fact, he pretty much stays outside all day (when we are home) since we moved.   I love it!  I'm so glad God gave us this fun place where he can stay outside all day and play and explore.  We are all enjoying the space so much.

There are so many things I love about homeschooling.   As you see, we were able to cover reading, science, math, Bible truths, and so much more in our afternoon.  And, I don't even know if the kids realized the whole time they were actually being "schooled."  I am so thankful that God has called me to this homeschooling adventure, and is equipping me and enabling me each day to do so.

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