"She refused to be bored, chiefly because she wasn't boring." Zelda Fitzgerald

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The Nature Table

We came through Hurricane Irene with hardly a wound. Our property is high and so we stayed dry although there is some flooding on the shore nearby and in some low-lying areas. The big old trees around our house all held and though we have leaves and few branches to clean up, there were no major collapses. We got lucky and I'll take it.

That said, lots of people were hit harder including the farmers at our new CSA. I was pretty shocked to see these photos of the damage on the farm. Hard to say what the rest of the season will look like as far as food stock goes.

But in our corner of the world all is well and the outdoors is still our friend. We are gearing up for schooltime learning season and my maiden voyage into the world of kindergarten homeschool instructor. One of the big changes we've made in our homeschool room/playroom in anticipation has been the creation of a Nature Table.
We've had a Nature Shelf for years now, (see this post, this post and this post for mentions of it) just a little spot on the bottom level of the corner cupboard, china cabinet but I think we've outgrown it. We are to the point where we can sustain a larger collection because there are some older, more conscious children emerging from the baby/toddler world that used to be our family, not to mention with three small collectors (not to mention a collecting prone mama!) we just make a larger collection without trying. And so A's grandmother's beautiful desk has become our larger space for displaying outdoor finds. We have a Nature Table!

 It's also really exciting to have a place where we stash all our guidbooks and identification manuals, right next to the treasures we're examining. I hope to add some magnifying glasses or jeweler's loops to the stash and a set of binoculars for hikes and bird watching out the window.

 I am trying to get the boys and myself outdoors every day, even if it is just for a few minutes of mania running around the big rock in the backyard before dinner prep. I feel like daily contact means connection and relationship with the natural world and in some tangible way it means stress relief and health too. During the "school year" I am hoping to get out for a serious outdoor outing once a week...a hike, a sledding expedition, a fort building, a long lay on the grass watching clouds, a big leaf raking...something. And I am planning to have take along our new art journals and do some kind of art work that reflects some small thing we saw together....a leaf, a bird, a cloud.

I am planning to pick the medium ("Today use these oil pastels to draw what you see.") on a rotating basis and set a time limit for sketching out our art so that it doesn't get to feel like a huge unwieldy project. I have never tackled anything quite this ambitious before and am not sure I will actually do it, or if I will do only sometimes or if it will be a huge success. We'll just have to wait and see!

Happy Learning Season to all of you perpetual life students out there who will be sharpening your pencils along with us...and if you see a guide on identifying insects, send it our way...we suddenly need one!

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