“If a child is to keep alive his inborn sense of wonder without any such gift from the fairies, he needs the companionship of at least one adult who can share it, rediscovering with him the joy, excitement and mystery of the world we live in.” (Rachel Carson)
I am currently in the throws of actually trying to make some sort of basic, but highly flexible, loose plan for the next academic year for my trio. So far it is going well, and getting me all excited with everything we will be discovering together from September. Today, I was introduced to something though that will enhance our experience together, and make our learning centre around nature even more. It is called: “Exploring Nature with Children. A complete, year-long curriculum”. The learning path follows nature’s natural rhythms, and combines learning across all subjects. The emphasis it places on the outdoors, nature, art, poetry and a nature journal have really grabbed my attention as it is exactly the style of learning my children thrive in.
“Let them once get in touch with nature and a habit is formed which will be a source of delight and habit through life…” (Charlotte Mason)
We first of all need to each have a nature journal (a blank sketch book), that will host all manner of sketches and findings throughout the year. I will do this too, so they can learn through example (although I am sure their sketches will be far superior to mine!!).
“As soon as he is able to keep it himself, a nature-diary is a source of delight to a child” (Charlotte Mason)
We also need to dedicate an area to be our regular nature study spot. This is easy as we have a country park 3 minutes walk from the front door. This is a mixture of woods, meadows and waters, so should provide an interesting mix in which to study. An area in the house (a shelf, table, or windowsill) needs to become a nature table spot, where at the start of every season we clear it of last season’s treasures, and start collecting and bringing home things that interest us and can be revisited throughout the season for further investigation.
Each season starts with an equipment list that sets you up for the next three months. You needn’t get hold of everything on the list, but it just gives you an idea of what you will be needing. The great thing about this curriculum is the ability to adapt it to your child’s nature, or the mix of ages you may have (if like us it’s quite a wide gap), so you can dip in and out of practical activities, doing only what will suit your little people’s needs. Each week has a nature walk activity, some further reading book list, a poem to enjoy, a piece of art to enjoy and some extension activities, be this crafts, science, writing, music or another topic.
We are really looking forward to being able to start this after the summer (because apparently that is the month we are now in despite using the campfire at forest school today to keep warm with!!).