Thursday, August 20, 2015

Reflections on Relationship: Enriching Relationships with God's Creation

This is the fifth part in my planning series, Reflections on Relationship.  (Sorry they've been a bit slow in coming.  This little thing called 'life' and 'getting a new school year off the ground' keeps kind of getting in the way.  I'm sure you can relate, no?)  You can read the other parts here:
Today, let's consider how we can enrich our relationship with God's creation.  This falls into the third area of Charlotte Mason's curriculum recommendations – knowledge of the universe (more from Volume 6 here).  Under this heading, she includes Science and Nature Study, Geography, Mathematics, Physical Development, and Handicrafts.
Again, some of these things are fairly straightforward to plan by simply following the Ambleside Online curriculum as written.  Natural history and geography books (coupled with mapwork) are scheduled each year.  In Year 3 and higher, some science experiment books are also added as options – we plan to include A Drop of Water.  Math for us is still just math, plugging away from where we left off last term.
Nature Study is the sort of 'obvious' way in which we can enrich our relationship with God's Creation.  I was reminded at this summer's Ambleside Online retreat that science studies ought to inspire wonder, and ultimately this is my goal.  This was a bit of a struggle for us last year since living in urban Africa limited our options somewhat.  We are looking forward to making this more of a priority in the coming year – we are living in a semi-rural area and have many lovely possibilities for local nature walks.   After our success with our focused plant study last year, we are planning to do a focused pond study for this late summer-fall term.   We have a pond just across the road from our apartment, so it should be easy to visit on a regular basis, and I'll add a couple of pond books to our read-aloud pile. 
My children are at times reluctant nature journalers, but if you look at the old schedules used in Charlotte Mason's schools, suggestions were given for specific numbers and types of nature journal entries.  To help encourage the children to branch out in their journals a bit, I am going to challenge them to do at least 10 entries over the term: 2 on a specific tree that they adopt to follow through the seasons, 4 related to our pond study, and 4 others of their choice – plant or animal.  And obviously, they are free to add other items of interest whenever they want - they surprised me by pulling them out on their own accord the other day and entering blue jays.  We'll choose a new focus area and journaling challenge for the winter-spring term – maybe rocks or climate or birds so we can compare with our African birds.  We'll see what strikes our fancy when the time comes. J
For physical development we will continue to swim as long as the weather is warm and the local pool is open, and walk, ride bikes, and play on the playground daily in decent weather.  We also have an opportunity to join a local homeschool PE class, although I'm not sure yet if it will work out schedule wise.
For Handicrafts – I consider handicrafts and life skills all kind of rolled into one. J   All of the children will continue with chores that they've been learning this summer and drawing (both in our co-op and at home as the mood strikes).  Michelle will also continue typing and crochet projects.  New handicrafts will be cooking lessons using Simplified Dinners for New Cooks (the littler two will start with the basic skills, Michelle I think is ready to jump in to the recipes) and plastic canvas needlework, which was suggested to me as a good prelude to embroidery and finer sewing projects   I'm thinking we'll tackle the needlework this fall (maybe with an eye to Christmas gifts for grandparents?) and focus in on the cooking skills after the first of the year.
How do you intend to enrich relationships with God's Creation this year?

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