Monday, April 8, 2013

Nature Study Monday: Introducing ChewLeaf the Caterpillar (and other musings)

Sorry for the silence around here lately. I’m still trying to figure out where blog-posting fits into the rhythm of our days and weeks (combined with a somewhat erratic internet connection). I do have lots to share with you all when I can snag a moment here and there, however. =) Thanks for your patience with my inconsistency.
One thing we've really been enjoying as we've gotten back into our school routine here is the endless possibilities we have for nature study and exploration. One little project we have going at the moment is this little guy:
The kids have affectionately named him ChewLeaf, since, well, that's what he does. Michelle and her friend found him on a bush a couple of weeks ago and we've been having a great time observing and watching him grow. We're hoping we'll be able to watch him go through all the stages of his metamorphosis. One of those little projects I've always wanted to do, but never got around to orchestrating. But maybe it's better this way? That it was Michelle's find, Michelle's idea to keep him to observe, rather than mine? All of the kids are completely enthralled by him.
I've been reading the book Poetic Knowledge by James Taylor. It is dense and meaty - definitely a book that will take a while to comprehend and digest. From what I understand, though, the idea of "poetic knowledge" is knowing something intimately - really knowing it as opposed to knowing about it. And it is a type of knowledge that lays the foundation for "scientific", factual knowledge. As I watched all three kids completely fascinated by their caterpillar friend after changing his leaves this morning, I couldn't help but thinking that this is what we are doing. We could read a book about caterpillars and butterflies and make a cute little cut-and-paste chart of his life cycle, and then we'd be able to say we know about caterpillars and butterflies. But by doing this, they are observing and learning for themselves. Assuming our experiment is successful, they will know - really know - the life-cycle of a caterpillar. They will have experienced it for themselves.
One of the common questions about Charlotte Mason education is "Is nature study and living books really 'enough' science in the elementary school years?" I've asked that question too. I think I'm finally beginning to understand that not only is it enough - it is vital. Once we really know something in the 'poetic' (intimate, personal) sense, then we can understand it in a 'scientific' (factual) sense. Don't know about you, but that certainly gives me the motivation I need to continue on making nature study a priority in our family.


  1. YES! jen! this is awesome. thanks for sharing. i am finding it SO true! ESPECIALLY in the areas of science... just wait and see, your kids will know SO much as they go through the books and LIFE and start really accumulating the relations with things!!

  2. p.s. don't forget to come back and add your post to april's linky... :)