With our style of learning (Charlotte Mason) we use hands on learning for nearly everything we are interested in knowing. Today's hike is a perfect example of what I'm talking about. We know the seasons have changed and we have experienced our garden growing beautifully. We have discussed that animals begin to come out of hibernation in the spring. We were out for an adventure at a lake and decided to go for a short hike. The flowers are blooming and the trees are full of green shady leaves. The birds are calling out warnings of us being in the nature neighborhood. We hike for a mile and see a dead turtle, a moss coved pond, a field where there used to be Indian Burials, and many spiders waiting for their lunches. On the way out of the trail we were enjoying the many butterflies and birds. So in other words, we weren't really paying attention to where we were stepping. With my husband in the lead, we chased a butterfly, trying to capture it feeding on camera. When, all of a sudden, the Doll yells, "Mom! A SNAKE!" I say calmly, " where baby?" and as you might be assuming, it was right in front of us, a step away. Daddy, must have just missed stepping on it because it was sunning itself and was completely stretched out. As it curled up its neck in defense to strike we carefully took steps backward. The snake made a u-turn and headed back into the bush. My little girl was a little shaken by seeing a snake respond in such a way, (the zoo snakes are usually sleeping in a lump: ) I just reminded her that ,"it's spring Baby, and the animals,including snakes, are excited to be out of hibernation. The forest is their home, you know."
Several key learning points-
A- snakes live in the forest, like to sun on the warm dirt trail, and are just as afraid of you. - so in a way you were lucky to see a snake :)
B- spring is a time for animals to wake up from hibernation, hiking in the forest and hiking around the park are two different hikes -always pay attention to where you are stepping!
C-park rangers don't always have the answers for your questions.- " aww, yeah, that was ahhh black snake" hmmm well, we knew that much:)
The funny/cool thing about the days events, is that the next day at the library she only wanted to check out books about snakes. I also heard her say to someone, her favorite animal is an anaconda:) and finally, she came up with the slogan, 'spring, is snake season.'
Could she have learned about spring, hibernation and snakes from a book, of course. Will she forever remember seeing the long(4ft) black snake stretched across the whole path on a warm spring day, definetly!
Sometimes, changing one piece of your routine, will give you a fresh point of view. One example, is to take a walk at different times during the day. We usually take a walk anytime around lunch -before or after- either around the neighborhood or at a park with a path. It's nice for fresh air and exercise, but it's also a great time to chat. I like to take that time to reflect on ideas we've been learning to see what other questions she still might have. Then make a note of books we should try to find at the library. Today we had errands to run at lunch and missed our midday walk/chat. So, having a lovely evening, we went on a walk after dinner. The first animal we noticed were bunny rabbits. There were many new bunnies hopping from tree to tree nibbling grass. The second were cats, we saw two black cats on the prowl. And finally we saw some fireflies. We gently caught one and took it home for a mini observation. Fireflies are so amazing! It was so cool to watch it explore it's jar. We noticed it didn't want to share its light while in the jar. So after about 15 minutes we released it. As soon as it flit out it buzzzed a bright light as if to say, thanks, it was nice to meet you. Teaching the names of bugs, and their habitats is a small piece of the lesson. The lesson was really on compassion and being gentle to all God's creatures. How awesome it is to see the lesson take root:)