Saturday, June 23, 2012

Adventures Off the Designated Path

I'm big on adventures.  As far as I can tell... childhood should be an adventure and the joy of parenting (especially homeschooling) is to embark on daily adventures.  Summer is especially good for this!

Last summer we set out to adventures with the aid of a great book called "How to be an explorer of the world; portable art life museum" by Keri Smith.  Through her book we learned to respond to the inevitable question of "What are you doing?" with:  "We are conducting research"... we are adventurer explorers!!

This summer we continue with Keri Smith's suggestions in mind as well as the preliminary implementation of a more Charlotte Masony method of homeschooling to begin in the fall.  Summer is an opportunity to "learn" though the kids think they are just playing and exploring... setting out on adventures each time we step out the front door!  

I won't write here today about how wonderful and perfect our maiden voyage into predominately Charlotte learning is.  Because it has not been easy!  But it has been fun.  Example?

We set off to the park last Wednesday with backpacks, field guides and journals in hand.  Our mission?  To observe, draw, and learn about TREES.  After all, we LOVE trees... they give us air to breath, they are GREAT for climbing, they provide wonderful shade on sunny warm days and they are so varied - there was no way the topic could be dull.

Our first challenge entered when mom forgot to keep the field guide accessible and then learned we had lost our first sample when we found somewhere to stop and chronicle.  The second challenge came when mom learned that "Maple" is not simply Maple... No, according to David Allen Sibley you've got your Sugar Maples, Silver Maples, Norway Maples, Striped Maples, Rocky Mountain Maples.... and on and on and on.  Even if I hadn't lost the sample, there is still the overwhelming amount of earmarks to each varied species.  Karen Andreola made this seem so much easier in "Pocketful of Pinecones".  I'm thinking 1930s New England fostered only a few species because "Carol" seemed to find what she needed in her field guide fairly quickly... not I!!!

Through the confusion the kids were 'distracted' by what we lovingly labeled 'the goose and duck nursery' we found at the West end of the park's pond.  They collected feathers, drew geese and eggs with amazing detail and observed interactions between the parent birds and children birds.


My oldest remembered from a year old lesson how the varying size of feathers directly corresponded with the placing of the feather on the wing and its specific function.  She regaled the group with her narration of her understanding on the topic.  She even labeled various parts of her picture and all three did find help in "Peterson's Field Guide to Birds" where we learned and recorded the scientific names for Canadian Goose, Mallard Duck and even the Common Loon.

It took until yesterday to fully understand that our adventures to the park for 'research' on remarkable trees was not a failure... it simply took a different direction.  And the fact is, our seemingly failed ambitions for weekly adventures to do our "research" have not actually failed either.  The business of packing and preparing for all that lies ahead for our trip this fall is an adventure and our directed excursions will have their time and place.  Remembering 'Carol's' excursions with her children in "Pocketful" helped me realize; they were not able to journal daily -or- weekly either.  And some entries were simple... not as complicated as I first presumed every lesson needed to be.

We need to just let learning happen.

Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 
-  Matthew 6:26 (NIV)

God has called us to this direction with the Mason Method in mind... he has already blessed the beginning stages of the process.  It will not look perfect from the beginning... as a matter of fact, it may never take on the image of perfection.  But we will move forward and we will have wonderful adventures in this [possibly last] Montana summer!

I pray you know peace even when things don't seem to be going as planned... that you have wonderful exploratory adventures no matter where you are this summer!


Linking up with Sue and the iHomeschoolNetwork today:

as well as Kris:


  1. We LOVE getting out in nature, but journals are been a HUGE flop year after year here. The kids just want to explore and observe and EXPERIENCE without what they consider the tedious task of documenting it on paper with drawings that they grumble look nothing like what they see. Whatever works, right? LOL

    1. Yes, whatever works! My kids love to draw... they just prefer to draw what THEY want and see... not what I suggest :-) I would rather they follow my directions on math or Language Arts... so I choose not to fight the battle on their journals and drawing. It keeps the peace and they are learning either way :-)