Schooling in the Springtime

ImageI don’t know about you but when the lovely spring weather comes, the sky is blue and the sun is shining, I have the hardest time staying inside to do school work. This year I am happy to say we have been able to mix the two~ sun shine and school!

As usual inspiration hit me in the form of a book, just a random gardening book given to the kids by a neighbor. Kids in the Garden by Elizabeth McCorquodale. It has some cool projects and lots of information about starting and maintaining a garden.

A few weeks ago Blue eyes and I watched http://www.backtoedenfilm.com ,along with our kids who were interested, which turned out to be most of the older ones. We are so inspired about our gardens now and excited to see what God will bless us with, even in our small neighborhood lot.

On an especially nice day we were browsing through Kids in the Garden and came across directions for making compost. Perfect! Off we ventured into the forest, my favorite place to be on sun dappled afternoons, to scoop up a couple five gallon pails of “browns”, decaying leaves, pine needles etc. Boys and shovels go so well together!

We built a bin and layered our browns and greens(uncooked fruits and vegi scraps, coffee grounds, tea bags, yard clippings, egg shells etc.), added lots of worms and a few shovelfuls of dirt and we are hoping to have nice rich compost to add to our gardens in as little as eight weeks. How cool is that?

We love to use the note-booking approach. This is a casual narration style of learning that works well for us. At our house it looks like this: every one gets their notebook, we’ll use History for an example, and sits down on the living-room floor. Our “crayon box”, colored pencils and other art supplies go in the middle. I read books aloud and they may do what ever they choose in their notebook as long as it goes with what we are reading about. Little ones draw pictures that are labeled and dated, with help if need be, older kids take notes and draw.

Simple but more powerful, than perhaps it sounds. My kids have been very proud of their History notebooks. They have shared them with my mom when she has come to visit and I love to hear them tell her about the pictures. They really internalize what they are able to take in and then put back out in the way that comes naturally to them.

Since our History notebooks are very thick I told them to turn them upside down and backwards and start a Science Notebook on that end. Ta~da! Without spending any money or time a large part of our spring time homeschool has been born and we are all very excited!

Now when the outside is calling to us, our school day can just be transferred out the door! Our math lessons can be done in the morning and our reading in the late afternoon. Our handwriting, reading, science, and art can easily be accomplished through any number of these spring projects. Especially when we are recording each step in our notebooks!

Watch Back to Eden film and discuss content

Research GMOs and arificial fertalizers/herbacides what are the pros and cons of using them

Stir our compost and check out what is happening in there, add water if necessary

Plan our gardens, each child has been given a space to cultivate and grow, because I want our harvest to be useful to our household menu I gave them some ideas to choose from. Their choices are as follows:

the boys: vines, sugar snap peas, green beans, butternut squash, sugar pumpkins, zucchini, climbing cucumbers. What fun to build a tepee for the vines to cover! We are hoping to grow enough green beans to can some as well!

The girls are paired an older with a younger and have chosen to do salsa garden and a salad garden for fresh eating.

Visit our local green house to purchase seeds or vegi starts (This green house/ gardening center is so cool, by the way, that sometimes Blue eyes and I will get a Starbucks and wander around there for a Saturday morning date!)

Work in our gardens………watch our seeds sprout, record their growth, draw the sprouts, blossoms and mature fruit in our science notebooks

Research the concept of “earthing” Why does it make sense?

Visit the Back to Eden garden, which happens to be just a couple hours from our house!

Read The Secret Garden

Purchase butterfly and lady bug larva and observe the life cycle (if you’ve never done this before you need to try it! All of us but especially our 3 and 5 year old daughters will love it this year! You can order them online and have them shipped to you, complete with a hanging home and directions.) 

and every other cool thing we think of!!!

Just today my oldest daughter was looking on Pinterest for ideas for plant labels, and other neat stuff for her garden. Every once in awhile our three year old will say to her,”Your my sister and remember we are sharing a garden?” She also told her she wanted to plant seeds and chocolate chips! So cute and bonding for them. They are planning to buy matching gardening gloves at the gardening center.

We are well under way. Our notebooks are filling up with poems about the smell of the forest, drawings, and a variety of other writings. New gardening books came home with us from the library this week. I have a feeling that we will have a very nice spring session of schooling!

I am so thankful again in this season that my days are spent with my children, living, learning, loving, worshiping together. Meandering through life together, as the Lord leads us. Not bound and stifled by any outside forces. Truly the Lord is good to give us the freedom and ability to educate or children at home!

If any other ideas came to mind, please share!

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7 thoughts on “Schooling in the Springtime

  1. GArdens are one of the best teachers! I certainly learned alot from mine over the years, and hopefully I will continue to learn (and garden!) Can’t wait to see everything next time I come!

  2. If you want to save money on purchased butterflies, try planting dill, carrots or fennel. We had a fennel plant in our backyard turn into a veritable Black Swallowtail nursery. I have a post on my blog about it. (With a video of a black swallowtail emerging from the chrysalis!) It was a wonderful, unexpected experience to watch this process over and over all summer! We learned a great deal! Also – thanks for the gardening inspiration – we are starting seeds and getting excited!

    • Wow! That is really cool! We’ve hatched the painted lady butterfly here a few times and planted specific flowers in hopes of keeping them around. I’ll have to check out your blog post.

      • Just make sure you don’t plant dill and fennel too near each other. Since they’re in the same family, they can cross pollinate for a very licoricey tasting dill. Or dilly tasting fennel!

  3. We love the time we have worked in the garden, using it in our science is such a neat learning experience, the history is also something I used with Levi being such a challenge for me with his learning, I found he has a gift from God to be close to the earth, and I utilized it to make a curriculum that suited his needs. I know you will do well, your teaching comes from the heart witch is love and God is love. We love you all, I wish we lived closer!

    • Levi sounds like Isaac! His dream is to be rancher and farmer. Can’t go wrong with cows and gardens, right? Someday I hope my kids can come visit at your house…..I know they would LOVE it there!

  4. I had to find and read this post 🙂 isn’t it true that they claim that Back to Eden should benefit every type of soil? Wonder what kind of “covering” would be readily available for you….straw? I hope you blog a lot. Your prairie parsonage is kind of a beautiful fantasy world I like to think about 😉

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