I am a huge fan of the writings and teachings of Charlotte Mason. ( who is she ???) Charlotte was born in England and began teaching governess' how to educate children in her school in Ambleside. Actually, she can be identified as an educational reformer, if you will, whereas she saw the child as a person... whole and filled with natural intellect and wonder, along with a innate ability to learn. This was not the mainstream thought at this time in history, believe it or not.
She used terms such as "twaddle" for books that she considered watered down or dumbed down and encouraged the use of "Living Books" or books that came to life in their stories, books that were about real things and people. She wrote a 6 volume seies of books called "The Original Home Schooling Series" that details her thoughts and beliefs on the nature of the child, home education, building character, parent/child relationships and educational philosophy. You can read them on-line here. http://www.amblesideonline.org/CM/toc.html
So what does that have to do with my post? Today we had Nature Study ..Charlotte Mason Style. :) I love it when I can see the gears turning in my kids heads and hearts and see a love for learning develop in them.
This past April I began my journey as a bee-keeper. It has been something I have wanted to do for some time and God finally provided the opportunity. I have a hive here at our house and another one down the road at my brother's home. Each time I go to the hives I come back to an assult of questions from the kids on how the bees are doing, are they making honey, are there new babies, how many are in there and of course the most important one.. did you get stung mom?
We put new supers ( smaller boxes that set on top of the actual hive body) almost 2 weeks ago and the bees are working hard to fill them up. While I was inspecting the frames in the lower hive body the bees had built extra comb onto the already established comb that could not stay there. When I pulled the frame out, the extra comb came off and fell out to the ground. I took that into the kids so they could get a first hand look at the amazing way God made these animals to do things only they can do. The queen bee is definitely doing her job by laying eggs all over the place and there were eggs, larvae, and bees that were almost to the adult stage in this comb. They were able to see the progression of the cycle of a bee's life first hand better than any book, poster or video could have done. It was absolutely amazing and it was that contagious excitement which then produced a desire to know more about this superb creature.
So what do we do now? Unit Study of course! I have lapbooks, reading books and print outs ready to add to the fun of what we learned just by observing nature in its element today. In Volume 1 of Home Education Charlotte calls this "intellectual food for the brains". She also includes this quote by a Dr. Carpenter that says, " The aesthetic sense of the harmonious, seems in its most elementary form to connect itself immediately with the Perceptions which arise out of the contact of our minds with external Nature."
Another favorite nature study tool to use along with this.. Anna Comstock's "Handbook of Nature Study". You can find this here.http://www.archive.org/stream/handbookofnature002506mbp/handbookofnature002506mbp_djvu.txt
Just had to share the fun! I love it when we have that real learning and the kids don't even realize it.