It was unintentional, this beginning of our summer school.
We had days of no school planned, but being who we are, we just dove in.
Everyone but J10 is down to just reading and journaling about the Book of Mormon . . . and E14 is still doing her remedial work, but that hardly counts. Our formal school for the year is quite done. (J10 just had to finish reading and journaling The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo. She could finish today if she wanted to, but she doesn't want to.)
We found out that there's a 39 acre historic/nature preserve only 2 miles from our house. Today we hopped in the van as soon as breakfast was over and went exploring.
We didn't take any books, art supplies, or plans with us. I didn't mean to do anything "school-y." All we did was walk where we wanted to walk and look at what we wanted to look at. It's a pleasant place. There's a little island in the lake that we got to via a primitive bridge. There are the remains of early 20th century cabins. There's a small dam and even smaller waterfall. There's a tiny cave. There are picnic tables and shelters and fire pits here and there. There's even a small interpretive center, but it didn't open when the website said it would, so we're not sure about that. We walked and looked and climbed and exclaimed for 45 minutes and only looked at about half of what's there. As for real exploring--we have a long way to go. We'll definitely be calling it one of our homes away from home this summer.
I2 got tired of walking and began to whine to be carried. He's big for 2--really big! To distract him I picked up a maple tree seed--helicopters we call them. We threw them in the air and watched them whirl to the ground. He couldn't have been more delighted.
And the big kids enjoyed it, too. There's something about a little brother that permits teen girls to throw off their teen-ness and remember that there's so much joy to be found in the simplest of actions.
And I just found this information about eating maple tree seeds--I had a maple tree right outside my front door for 11 years and never knew! I'll have to go see if we have a maple tree or two in our "woods" now.
Being able to identify a few plants at the park got me thinking about the preliminary studies I've done. That got me talking during lunch today.
"What is a plant?" I asked.
The kids began answering . . . and debating the merits of each answer.
I pulled up a definition online.
As I read it, some kids yelled triumphantly, while others groaned good naturedly.
What we took away from the ensuing discussion is that plants:
--have rigid cell walls
--use photosynthesis to make their own food
--are mostly multi-cellular (depends on the definition you read)
--absorb water and nutrients through their roots
--grow in (for the most part) a stationary location.
I think our next lesson will be plant taxonomy. I'm using Botany in a Day (borrowed from our local library) to help me, but I found some a good 2 page lesson at the end of The Usborne World of Plants (also library-borrowed) that I'll probably use as an introductory lesson.
Then we'll go back to the park . . . or just out in the back yard to see what we can see!