"Thought breeds thought; children familiar with great thoughts take as naturally to thinking for themselves as the well-nourished body takes to growing; and we must bear in mind that growth, physical, intellectual, moral, spiritual, is the sole end of education." ~ Charlotte Mason

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Nature's Treasures

We are Charlotte Mason Educators.  To say this, is an honour, a blessing. For with it opens a whole world of fresh approaches and earnest learning.  Out of it grows a love and affection for good literature, nature, attention to detail and habit formation. 

This year, we have turned our attention to the Charlotte Mason habit of nature notebooking.  We've done notebooking before but not in the way we have pursued it this year.  This year, we've  recorded weather patterns, stages of the moon, cloud formation, details of plants and animals, and even poetry into our books. The kids are starting to develop an affinity for it, that I am certain, in time, will blossom into something more meaningful for them.  What surprised me was how much much I am enjoying it.  So this post is mainly about my experience with nature notebooks. 

I started out with the idea of leading by example.  I decided I would come alongside my children and enjoy the experience with them.  What I discovered both surprised and delighted me!   I am not an amazing artist. But that doesn't matter because the world of recording nature has opened up a sweet relief from stress and a return to the appreciation of this spectacular world in which we live.  I found, just as Charlotte Mason describes, that my attention to detail has become attuned to the world in which I live.  I am starting to see, rather then merely look.  As I sketch that flower or that bird I am amazed by the rich detail of each.  The markings, the individual simplicity that makes it so complex and utterly breath taking.  The colours of nature have come alive, so vibrant and fresh!   Not only am I seeing but my other senses have joined my sight.  What I am hearing and smelling bring more pleasure to the bigger picture.  

As I sat in the quiet of the morning today I heard the gentle lap of the waves on the sand, took in the smell of the water mixed with the foliage, appreciated the blue/grey of the sky, the deep blue of the lake, heard the crows, the call of chickadee, the squawk of the gulls, the buzzing of the cicada and the chatter of the chipmunk.  I felt I was living in that moment, enjoying creation the original artist made for me to take in.  I believe nature notebooking has increased my ability to better see the world outside of my 'formal' notebooking hours.  Not only to see it but be apart of it, to join in the excitement of what is around me.  If it's doing that for me, I believe very strongly, it will be so for my children too.

I sat on the back deck this morning drinking my coffee, enjoying the sounds, sights and smells of a fresh new day.  Off in the distance I heard the soft peck of what I believed to be a wood pecker.   It was such a soft tapping that I was second guessing myself.  I sighted a bird on a tree branch who seemed to be tapping away with all its might.  I called out quietly to my eldest to fetch our camera.  She did so and I was able to get a closer look.  I couldn't get a good picture so I availed myself of the camera to my husbands capable hands. He took a trek through the brush to get a better picture and was able to get some wonderful photos of her.  All of us went inside to have a better look at the photo and look up the details of this particular woodpecker.  It was a Downy Woodpecker known for its soft tapping rather then the large jack hammer pounding of other wood peckers.  Upon further investigation my son proclaimed it a female for the lack of red patch on its head.  I am amazed he knew that.  This led to some conversation about wood peckers in general and in particular the differences between the markings of female/male birds and other creatures.  This whole exchange made me think about how an appreciation for nature and attention to detail including all the senses, made for such enjoyable conversation and connection to nature as well as with each other.  In that moment I knew we had it!  What we were doing just what Charlotte Mason has encouraged in her writings.  This is exactly what I want for our family; a love of learning and entering into this vast world of ours to observe the complex and to understand that we need to take the time to be apart of it. So simple, so enlightening, so amazing.

I've included my art work for The Downy Woodpecker.  Anyone can do it from the very young to the old.  As a parent, and an educator I am so pleased I am taking the time to keep a nature journal.  It has enriched my life in so many ways.

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