Thursday, September 2, 2010

Nature Walk

When I was reading up on all the different homeschooling methods I instantly fell in love with the Charlotte Mason approach.  Nature study was a "must" for Charlotte Mason's students.  She encouraged parents of young children to be outsdie 4-6 hours a day, and for children 12+ at least one full afternoon dedicated to outside studies.   I love the idea of getting the kids outside as much as possible, exploring nature by taking nature walks and keeping a journal of your discoveries.

I had this image in my mind of how perfect our first nature walk would be: the kids sharing the same enthusiasm as me, excited to discover new things and record their findings on their new sketchpads with their pretty new colored pencils.  We'd have our field guide and magnifying glasses in hand and ready to identify our treasures...butterflies flitting around here and there, birds chirping...

Our first nature walk didn't go exactly as planned.  Towing around a pre-teen with a "how dumb is this going to be" attitude has a way of squelching any excitement one may have.  The first spot we came to seemed as good as any for her to park her stuff and start drawing.  I encouraged her to explore a little longer than 2 seconds.  I began asking myself, "Ok. What's the point of this again??" Then I remembered. I told the kids to find something that they didn't know the name of or hadn't seen before.

After not speaking to me for half the rest of the walk I think we finally started enjoying ourselves.  Jared found a little creature he wanted to sketch.  It was a small, furry white caterpillar.  He scooped it into his little jar and found a cozy spot by the creek to start drawing.  Jenna and I continued to search for something.  We finally came upon some wild berries.  They were so pretty.  She broke off a bunch and found a tree to climb up in to do her sketching. we were starting to get somewhere.

The next step was for them to identify what they found.  Jared found out that his was a fall webworm caterpillar.  Jenna found out hers were wild pokeberries.

Their next step was to write the name of their discovery in English and Latin. 

We found out many interesting bits of information on the pokeberry.  Though toxic to humans, it has had many uses over time. It just so happens that pokeberries were mentioned in the audio book we're listening to- "Little House in the Big Woods".  Laura's new rag doll was given rosy cheeks and lips using pokeberries. We also found out that pokeberries were used to make ink long ago and it is said that the Declaration of Independence was written with pokeberry ink.  It is also used as a natural dye for yarns.

So, our nature walk turned out to be more than just a boring walk  in the woods!!


  1. Awww you wrote it in LATIN too??? Ego sum superbus vestrum!!

  2. You could have done your nature walk at my house...the weeds growing next to my sidewalk are, as you have taught me, said pokeberries. Lol Monique told me that they were very poisonous, but are used a lot by Indians (and probably industrious HS mom's when studying Indians) for dyes, etc. I guess they get really red. Glad your walk took a turn for the good. :)

  3. Thanks :) At least you will have them handy if you decide to do some experimenting of your own!