Today was nature curriculum day for us, and the topic was something we have in abundance here….lichen. After we picked our little lady up from school (1pm today) we went straight into the woods over the road to go lichen hunting. We weren’t disappointed. The morning fog had lifted slightly, the weather was hovering in the plus (just), and the rain was holding off. All this led to an enjoyable walk and collecting some varying samples to bring back home for our nature journals. We decided fika would be good to accompany our sketching, so our books are now all a little bit sticky!
We sat down with our yummy treats and chatted about lichen facts whilst we drew and sketched. Lichen is a type of organism which consists of an algae and a fungus living in a symbiotic relationship. They need each other to survive. There are three main types of lichen: they can be crust like (crustose), scaly or leafy (foliose), or shrubby (frutiose). We found all three forms so had a successful little lesson on their structure. We talked over how the fungus and algae work together to live; the algae produces the food, and the fungus collects the water. In this way lichen can survive harsh weather conditions, that would kill either organism on its own. Therefore, they grow in most parts of the world, and can live in places where few plants can survive. They grow on stones, dead wood, and tree trunks, and can be found in deserts, on top of mountains, and in the arctic. The European Space Agency even discovered that lichen can survive unprotected in space, when they sent 2 species, sealed in a capsule, up on a Russian Soyuz rocket. The 2 samples were exposed to the vacuum of space, cosmic radiation, and huge extremes of temperatures. After 15 days there was found to be no damage. Round here the lichen is a good food source for the reindeer, but it can also be eaten by humans. Some lichens are also used to make dyes and medicines.
We also did a little task from our Nature in a Nutshell book. We looked at leaf decomposition. As well as lichen, we also collected some leaves in various states of decay. Once we got them home we examined them under magnifying glasses, looking at the different stages of decay. We also chatted about how and why they decay (so it was a good job I’d done a little research for a blog post last week, as I felt a little clued up on the subject!).
Chatting to our little lady on our walk, school is going really well for her. When we decided that she’d be thrown in at the deep end regarding language skills, we never expected the school to go out of their way to provide extra tuition for her. However, chatting away to her, it is clear that our lovely little island school has indeed done just that. Our little lady is a little more ahead in maths, as her friends have only done just over a year of it. So the school is using some of this time to give our little lady 1:1 Swedish lessons. She has a workbook and a vocab book, and appears to be enjoying it very much, but then again it does get her out of maths 😉 !!!
The Nature Curriculum we use is, “Exploring Nature with Children. A complete, year-long curriculum”. It is a beautifully written framework, written by Raising Little Shoots, and can be found over at https://raisinglittleshoots.com/ It suggests a topic for the week, and then provides some background information and suggestions for nature journaling and outdoor exploring. It also provides a comprehensive suggested reading list (fiction and non-fiction) for each week, plus a poem and a piece of art to study. There are extensions activity ideas too. We use the topic as the theme for our week, and follow the ideas for our journaling, and one fiction book. What we have been doing from the curriculum can be found on our curriculum overview post. The craft, science, maths, and English ideas we have researched ourselves to fit in with the theme 🙂 This makes a learning a lot more nature based.