Monthly Archives: October 2016

To Indiana

Not only will December mark the bicentennial of the Hoosier state, but this year, back in August, we also celebrated”making memories naturally” with the centennial of Indiana State Parks.  Our family did not specifically decide on a fall break destination based on these facts alone, but it serendipitously turned out that way. We gave the kids the choice between Chicago or hiking in Clifty Falls State Park in southeastern Indiana. They chose hiking. I don’t think they knew what they were getting into. We hiked over seven miles, two-thirds of which was on rather rocky, uneven and steep slopes. By the end, we were close to dehydration on a sunny “autumn” day of 80 degrees.

Although I am a transplant to the Midwest, I love the homey beauty of this state. It is good for my soul to be out in it.

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I have nothing to say in this post, except that I enjoy being outdoors. Here, I share with you my family’s hike – minus the whining at the end because we were thirsty and exhausted- and a bit of this 200 year old state. Happy Birthday, Indiana. Here, I share with you the state poem.

Indiana

God crowned her hills with beauty,

Gave her lakes and winding streams,

Then He edged them all with woodlands

As the settings for our dreams.

Lovely are her moonlit rivers,

Shadowed by the sycamores,

Where the fragrant winds of Summer

Play along the willowed shores.

I must roam those wooded hillsides,

I must heed the native call,

For a Pagan voice within me

Seems to answer to it all.

I must walk where squirrels scamper

Down a rustic old rail fence,

Where a choir of birds is singing

In the woodland…green and dense.

I must learn more of my homeland

For it’s paradise to me,

There’s no haven quite as peaceful,

There’s no place I’d rather be.

Indiana…is a garden

Where the seeds of peace have grown,

Where each tree, and vine, and flower

Has a beauty…all its own.

Lovely are the fields and meadows,

That reach out to hills that rise

Where the dreamy Wabash River

Wanders on…through paradise.

by Arthur Franklin Mapes

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Blending Nature Journals, Science and YouTube

img_6857Sometimes it is difficult to plan out every single academic subject. As long as I have a solid idea where we are with Math and Language Arts, the other subjects can live in a state of flux at times. While I might want S’s curriculum a little more focused and firm in content, this is particularly true for G’s lessons. We might use our Magic School Bus science kit for a couple of weeks, abandon it for a human anatomy book the next week, and finally just not have time for any official science for a few more weeks. I think this is ok when you are six. Science is around us, and our backyard and sun room have provided us with automatic sources for nature studies.

One of the first things we did after moving in to our current home just over a year ago was to set up a few bird feeders outside our sun room windows. I have written about the amount of time we spend watching all our feathered friends. Last month G and I printed out several pictures of our favorite birds we tend to see in our neighborhood. We used them to create a poster for our sunroom. G meticulously keeps track of their appearances at the feeders and the trees by placing tally marks as he sights them.

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Exploring the nature of the Midwest, its flora and fauna, is the most  obvious form of science I can engage in with G. Honestly, it demands little of my time in a season where I feel I need to expend my efforts on other things. A walk through a trees-y trail or wading in a creek and our appetites are enhanced for further study. These have often inspired us in our library  choices.

G and I have time on Tuesdays between dropping S off at co-op before his own class begins. It is inconvenient to drive all the way home so we usually pack a few books, read at a cafe or go to a nearby park. Last Tuesday G drew some birds.

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Peterson Field Guide to Birds of North America by Roger Tory Peterson and Handbook of Nature Study by Anna Botsford Comstock have become great tools to keep us well informed and asking good questions. G found a great spot under a tree in which to draw his favorite bird, currently the Eastern Bluebird. He is not particularly adept at drawing, so he initially found this task overwhelming in just drawing from a nature book. Then, he remembered YouTube. We found some great little videos taking us step by step in drawing our chosen birds. Here is his Eastern Bluebird. You can find the video we watched here.

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G used a very similar one for his Northern Cardinal. Watch it here.

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Our geography lessons have us in Central America now, so not only did we find a book filled with gorgeous amphibian photography, but G also included the Panamanian Golden Frog in his nature journal. The Case of the Vanishing Golden Frogs, a Scientific Mystery by Sandra Markle describes the predicament of these brightly colored amphibians and a skin disease that began striking their population in the mid 1990s. We actually found a specific drawing lesson for this particular frog. You can try it here.

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YouTube often has a bad reputation for inappropriate content and mindless twaddle, and rightly so, but we try to take advantage of some of the goodness it does offer.

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