Monday, September 7, 2015

Wrapping Up Summer Schole; Unwrapping Wonder

     Schole is a word that's getting considerable press in the home schooling circuits lately. It is a Greek word referring to spare moments or leisure. Classically speaking, leisure is the time used for virtuous activities. It is time spent away from any distractions. From this, we get the words scholar and school. At  MSJ Schole, we are saying goodbye to summer and hello to another academic year. 
     We're wrapping up our Summer Schole, and with that I realize that we have unwrapped a whole lot of wonder. By focusing on nature, and more specifically journaling, I've determined that we don't have to check tasks off, memorize tons of information, or even follow a detailed lesson plan to learn and appreciate all that is out there in our world just waiting discovery. I see that curiosity opens the door to a vast variety of learning.

As (Einstein) put it near the end of his life,"I have no special talents, I am only passionately curious."  Einstein by Walter Isaacson

     Without trying very hard, we've managed to have quite a full curriculum over the past few months. We not only dived deeply into nature on our own, we also gathered with a few other outdoorsy families every two weeks for hiking, gathering, journaling, read aloud time, and picture study. By focusing on  nature journaling, we became aware of the many interconnected topics and skills that it links together.
      In my current favorite book, Keeping a Nature Journal, the authors include a "curriculum web" showing these connections. After reading this, I became inspired to construct my own web  through photos. I'll use this in our end-of-the-year portfolios.

     Nature Journaling - Summer 2015
Our Summer Schole "Web"
        Embracing Stages of the Trivium - Grammar, Dialectic, Rhetoric - with a Charlotte Mason Mindset

I have learned that what I have not drawn I have never really seen. 

Frederick Franck, The Zen of Seeing

 Nature bracelet walk using our five senses

Our attempt at pinning insects. We're not giving up, but it's hard.
Earth Science
Habitats and seasons
This stunning Wheel Bug has a bad bite.
Scientific Method

A male Indigo Bunting. We've seen a female.

Recording the day and leaf rubbing.
Comparing Butterflies and moths.
Observing blueberry plants.

Pressing leaves to preserve the season.

Language Arts
Classic literature
English grammar through Cinquain poetry.
Oral expression
Copying a poem.
We memorized this poem.
Learning about Beatrix Potter and getting inspired by her journaling.

Enjoying Peter Rabbit, Jemima Puddleduck, and all of Beatrix's other friends with our friends.

Physical Education
(This was an easy one!)
Walking, running

Looking for butterflies.

Exploring Greenbrier State Forest

Hand-eye skills
Observational drawing
Different forms of art expression
Different media

We searched nature for various colors; we each had our own slant to what we saw.
We used paint samples for inspiration.

G isn't so keen on drawing so she took up photography.
Picture Study
Reflections of Summer

Social Studies
Local history
Natural and human communities
Compass Skills
Enjoying our Greenbrier River.

As we explored, we talked to experts getting ready for a Civil War Reenactment.

Looking for larvae in our community

Mapmaking - drawing to scale

Our raised bed garden drawn to scale.

 We keep track of our personal Monarch community. The number of larvae, chrysalides, and butterflies change daily.

     Some tips from Keeping a Nature Journal that I want to remember are these:
~ Always keep a journal along with the kids. As their mentor, if they observe me making the time to journal, so will they.
~ Use the journals regularly as teaching aids. The more we record and reflect in their journals, the more they will see the need for them.
~ Help kids see that setting up nature journals ties them to a long tradition of science and history -- a way of learning that is still of value today.
~ Encourage kids to have a private corner in their journals. This is a place just for them. It will strengthen the notion that "nature is part of me; I am part of nature." (I'm going to try to get the girls to do this.)

       Journaling has opened up a part of me that was there, but hidden. I know that by instilling the love of this art in the girls, I am giving them a gift that will stay with them for their lifetime. So...bring on Autumn Schole!

But, you may find, that the nature journal becomes the connecting force between all the elements in you life, giving you hours of joy, relaxation, calm, increased knowledge, and a feeling of connectedness with the natural world.  Keeping a Nature Journal


Linking up with Living and Learning At HomeCharlotte Mason Blog CarnivalJoyous Lessons