Thursday, January 5, 2012

Warm winter weather and nature study

After a couple of single digit days, it warmed up to 45 degrees today. So, I turned off the heat, opened up a couple of windows (fully knowing it could be March before I have another opportunity do so) and sent all of us outside into the sunshine for some play, fresh air, sunshine (get a little bit of real Vit D manufacturing occurring!) and some exploration.

One thing that surprised all of us was the amount of green vegetation still out in the back flower beds, I knew that often in the fall we would see new sprouts that winter over (we have seen that with spinach in the garden), but I really did not expect to see unfrozen, green plants back there. The 3 year old found a stick and tromped through all spots muddy in his shoes (silly mama should have put boots on - I thought the ground would be frozen!).

All 5 of us went to see what was in the ditch (besides garbage that I suppose I will get to go out later & pick up). There was some very solidly frozen ice that intrigued the older 2. They decided by the color what areas were solidly frozen and what was not - they were right. I think the 3 yr old wanted to go down there, but he backed off when he saw the 13 yr old break the ice in a thin area (purposefully).

The toddler was just thrilled to be outside. She has always loved being outdoors. That will make for some fun nature study when she gets older!

I know many people just don't like to take the children out in the cold, but Charlotte Mason believed that children should spend lots of time outdoors - daily. During the very coldest days (ie single digits with wind or worse - below zero days, etc.), I do limit that time out and sometimes skip it altogether. The risk of frostbite on a excessively cold day is all too real. That said, there are very few days that we skip it altogether. I need the break & fresh air as do the children.

(A child) must live hours daily in the open air,” she said. “We were all meant to be naturalists, each to his degree, and it is inexcusable to live in a world so full of the marvels of plant and animal life and to care for none of these things.”

The three year old found joy in the birds that winter over. We can see/hear the crows that stay. We watch for hawks when we are outside. G3 wants to know where all the bugs are living since he does not see them in the dirt. That leads him to a new word - hibernation. We talked about Chippy & the mice spending most of the winter in their warm homes below ground. Three year-olds are ever so curious and bring out the childlike curiosity in the grownups as well - if they let themselves.

The weather tomorrow looks appropriate for a visit to our local nature preserve. It will be fun for all of us to walk around (in boots this time!) and see the difference between our last visit in November & now. It is good to go visit familiar places regularly so the children can see the changes. One of our favorite things to see at the nature preserve are some plants with HUGE leaves. They are fun to look at and touch when green, but after they dry up in the fall, they make a fabulous rustling noise when the wind blows. We must not forget that plants have their own seasons and what may seem boring at one point will be exciting in another. We have also noticed cold spots out there (okay, I admit it, it freaks me out just a little to go through those spots). And, in those areas, the plants are totally different. We are not talking about large fields like this only about a 10x10 plot in 2-3 areas in the preserve and they are not low lying - just weird to me, lol!  I suspect it might be worth an email to my cousin to get his thoughts on it since he works in a nature preserve area for a living. Hmmmmm. If I find out the what/why behind it, I will post about it later.