One of the greatest aspects of homeschooling is the opportunity to spend a portion of our school year outside. We can stay up late to star gaze or to celebrate a full moon. We can take multi-day field trips to see caves or 2-billion year old rock formations in our province. We can study native plant life by exploring our local ravines and parks.
From April to June, nature is our classroom. We will venture outside more than inside. Beginning with astronomy, they will hear myths of the heavens from around the world, familiar characters and places from their first part of the year. Identifying and drawing constellations will help us revisit the Greek Myths we had covered in winter. Some may choose to delve deeper into space and the science of the stars and planets. For my younger ones, we will look at telling time: charting the day using a sun dial, looking at the phases of the moon, and observing the rhythm of the seasons. We will look at how the Ancient Egyptians, Babylonians, and Greeks looked at the stars and how they saw them.
Next we will tell some First Nation myths – stories of the land, the first people, the shelters, the culture, the climate. I will tell indigenous stories of the Philippines and look at where we come from – the culture, the shelters, the climate, the people. We will contrast the two by studying botany – an up close observation of native plants here and looking at native plants of the Philippines from afar and from the kids’ interviewing their grandparents. I want them to see how the land shapes the people and how the people shape the land. This will lead to a farming vs foraging discussion with the older children as we go back and look at ancient civilizations and agriculture and what exists today. My third grader will cook a meal from farm to table – sourcing every single ingredient within a 100 km radius (even the salt!). Then she will cook a meal with her grandparents that is native to the Philippines and contrast the types of foods used.
Finally, we will take field trips to get to know our province. I will tell them stories of mountains and volcanoes and the beginning of time. We will look at the geology of Ontario through climbing mountains and touching 2 billion year old volcanic rocks. I will show them some areas that existed millions of years ago that resemble present day tropical areas. These discussions on the Earth will lead to Physics experiments on magnetism and electricity. We will do experiments that illustrate magnetic and electric fields that are a smaller scale of Earth’s own fields.
We will do a lot of observational drawing and field notes. We will sit outdoors and feel the earth. We will look at the sky, the plants and the land simultaneously. Just as we drew maps freehand to feel the shape of the land, we will draw nature’s gifts freehand and watch the natural geometrical shapes that emerge. Some will do more formal geometry and algebra through the analysis of natural phenomenon. We will read nature poetry and Thoreau together and sing nature songs that they have learned. Some will read biographies of naturalists like Rachel Carson and Anna Botsford Comstock and early astronomers and scientists of the Renaissance like Galileo and Copernicus so that they can see the world as these enthusiastic explorers have seen it. I want them to discover the natural rhythms of nature and to see the beautiful order in the wildness f it all.
The goal for this last part of the year? To pay attention. To understand the connection through their senses. To come home after a year of living in the past and so far away from home.
I came across this quote from Kathleen Dean Moore in Holdfast: At Home in the Natural World:
Sometimes the natural world gives you a gift so beautiful, so precious, that all you can do is stand there and cry.
If they understand, truly understand what cannot be taught in textbooks, they will know the interconnections in their heart. They will know it so well that there won’t be a choice but to care. I want them to fall in love with this world – this one earth. In times when they have lost their way, I want them to remember to go outside to find peace, to close their eyes and remember the story I told about the woodland animals, to smell the cedar and the pine that reminds them of our saunters through our favourite parks, to listen to the call of the chickadee or the cardinal to feel at home, and to look up at the heavens seeing the same stars in the sky that all of our predecessors have seen, and to take comfort that they aren’t alone and they were never alone.
In case you missed some of previous homeschool planning posts, here are the links:
I hope to have a resource list for tomorrow’s post!
100 scribbles…hurriedly writing the here and now.
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