In the last month in North Central Louisiana, we have had rain nearly every day. And I don't mean just a little sprinkle. There are flood warnings out all over. It has rained relentlessly. The kids and I have been stuck inside getting all kinds of school done.
But Monday, the day started out cool and clear, and the report was that it would stay that way for the day. The high was only going to be about 70. So as soon as we finished up our morning chores and a quick spelling lesson, out the door we went. They played most all day.
When I first came out to check on them, Little Sister's arms were deep in a bucket of muddy water. They all three told me of how they were using the water and some mud they had dug up to make rocks. They were going to let them dry in the sun, and one day, years from now, people would find them. Wow! I was impressed. And then when they tired of playing in the dirt and digging, they headed to the front yard to rake leaves to jump in.
Tuesday promised to be a great day as well. So again, as soon as morning chores and a quick reading lesson were finished, out we went. This time, though, I told them to steer away from the water, because I didn't really feel up to the mud in the house again. So they headed, instead, down the hill to the woods. My husband cleared out our woods enough that the kids are able to safely play in them, but they still are full of trees, mud holes, treasures, and all kinds of other things. They built a fort to begin with. All three of them pitched in to make it just right. Later, I saw My Man and Little Sister gathering acorns and piling them up. At one point, Big Sister came in and asked me where her nature book was, because she had found a really cool new plant, and she needed to look it up to find out what it was. I saw her for a LONG time walking around with her book looking up all kinds of plants and trees. Also, Big Sister and My Man decided to each get a sack to fill with all kinds of things - pinecones, pinestraw, acorns, holly leaves, and anything else they came across - because My Man wanted to make a diorama with his, and Big Sister wanted to make fall wreaths to sell at an upcoming craft fair. Later in the afternoon, when we had come in, My Man set to work putting his diorama together. It's still not quite finished, so I'll post a picture later. (In case you're wondering, a diorama is a miniature scene of something - woods, city, bedroom, house, just whatever.)
This morning, I informed the kids that this would be our last day to be outside for awhile. This evening, there is a 70% chance of rain again, and it will last for a few days. So once again, after morning chores and a quick math review worksheet, the kids headed out the door. They have been swinging from pine trees, running through the woods, trying to catch falling leaves, collecting more things for their projects (which we will work on more tomorrow while it's raining), and all kinds of other fun things. Again, they have been finding all kinds of cool unusual plants, and they have been trying to figure out what they are. And since our woods are full of mushrooms, we took the time to study a few of them, talk about what they are, and how we are to NEVER eat them in the wild. We came in long enough to eat lunch. Big Sister and I tried a new recipe of dandelion pesto over pasta. It was absolutely terrible! But the point was not necessarily to make a prize winning dish, but to experiment, practice our measuring skills, and talk about the many uses and qualities of the common dandelion plant. (I still consider it a great herbal remedy, but, hey, medicines aren't really suppose to taste good. But it wasn't my favorite as food. We'll probably try it in another recipe before giving up on it as a food.)
After lunch, I sent Little Sister to take a nap, while the two older ones did some reading. But as soon as they were each finished, they came running wanting to know if they could head back outside. There was a vine out there that they found, and they wanted to go swing from it. So out they went. The day isn't finished yet! There is much more to do and see and play before the rain comes. And they will probably be out there until that time.
(Let me put in here that I did not just SEND my kids out each day. I was with them most of the time. Being that it was a little cooler, I stayed inside with the baby when she was awake. But as soon as she went down for a nap, I was back outside spending the day with the other three. I wanted to spend time learning and having fun WITH them.)
In the last three days, my kids have learned so much in their school time! And I'm not talking about the few worksheets that I made them do each day just to say that we "did school." I'm talking about the time they have spent outdoors exploring nature, researching the things they found, exercising their muscles, using their imaginations, being creative and constructing things from what they found - the list goes on and on. Being in nature is science at its best! It has been a fun three days.
And tomorrow, when the rain sets in again, we will be back inside with our books and pencils and computers. We will be doing the fun learning that is awaiting us inside. But until then.....