A heart warming study of nature may seem complicated, but it can be so simple. This post will give examples of ways to get your kids out in nature and learn together through experience, stories, poetry and music!
As you become more familiar with the Well Educated Heart rotation schedule, you will come to understand that the “to-do” list will never be complete. This is sure to drive the task-oriented mother’s mind a little crazy until she grasps the vision and embraces the growth. DON’T worry about what you complete or do not complete because “you will be back” next year.
I, as a mother, I NEEDED this reassurance and permission to relax and let my children lead some of these studies. Children are, after all, the best learners. Family life, especially during the summer months of the rotation, does not stop going. As a family, you can recognize and further embrace the HEART learning into your family’s lifestyle, focus, and culture. Trust me, you are already doing more than you realize.
If you will notice, each month of the rotation has an American studies topic, a country or two to visit, and a science (study of nature) subject. In month 2, you will see that the study of nature topic is oceans. I don’t know about you, but we do not live right next to an ocean, so don’t let that stop you from getting creative.
EXPERIENCE ideas for NATURE
We decided to do two things that tied water and rocks together. We found a trail with a river that is mountain run off. In the later summer months, the run off has stopped so the water bed is dry. We decided to see what was hiding underneath the water that we saw there earlier in the spring. There were all kinds of large rocks that my children were instantly connected to.
They took some pictures so that we could learn the names of the rocks together. Sheepishly, I could not name off the rock names that I learned back in the 5th grade. Can any of you relate?! This was another small testament to me of the importance of The Well Educated Heart philosophy.
Learning facts and figures does not touch our hearts. Learning with our senses and through our hearts has a lasting impression. I will remember these rocks because I climbed on them with my children, and because we examined them, felt them with our hands, and took pictures of the rocks that stood out to us.
This was a great introduction to next month’s science topic which is rocks! All things flow together so nicely when you let nature open up your studies. We learned about mountain run off and rocks at the same time.
We also visited a reservoir not far from our home. It’s not anything in comparison to an ocean. However, the boats create waves and the scenery is perfect for your children to get a small glimpse of the ocean.
Following the interest of your kids is huge! This was not part of our planned out studies, but my daughter has always wanted to ride a horse bare back. Little children dream their own dreams and observe the smallest things in nature that we might surpass. The tops of acorns that have fallen from a tree, the small grasshopper hiding in the grass. Let your child guide your way…
MUSIC Inspiration for NATURE
We learned a beautiful and fun song to sing. It is called Pearly Shells. We own a ukulele and wanted to learn how to play the song. We used this video to teach us how:
STORIES with NATURE
We also read a few stories together. One is entitled Little Sunflower and it shares the cycle of a Sunflower. It starts with a seed that takes root and the shoot grows into its stem. It flowers and is beautiful, it can be seen in yards, along the road, in the mountains. The small seeds from the center of the sunflower will fall to the ground and be the means of the growth for the new sunflowers the next season. We loved finding one on a trail and looking at the little seeds in the middle of it.
POETRY for NATURE
The following nursery rhyme is one we have been reciting together. It is simple, yet it reminds me as the mother-teacher that my children will always learn best if I can connect their learning to joyful experiences they can have with their senses. Our joy was full as we noticed that little sunflower and all of the seeds in the middle, and our story took on much more meaning in the process. Here is the rhyme:
I have two little eyes to look all around;
I have two little ears to hear each new sound;
I have one little nose to smell something sweet;
I have one little mouth that likes to eat.
This is something easy to recite, and your young children will be sure to love it! My three year old loves the last line and shouts emphatically when it is time to say “the mouth likes to eat.”
All of these activities were simple but I hope they will inspire you to let both your child and the seasons guide your way with your HEART studies. These later Summer and early Autumn months are a wonderful time to get your exploration and nature studies in. Spend all the time you would like in nature. When winter comes, there will be stories, poetry, music, and many activities to warm your heart as nature and you rest from the outdoors.
We hope that this journey together can inspire your mother heart to keep pressing forward and find learning and teaching opportunities wherever you may find yourself. Enjoy and let your HEART love the journey too.