Candlemas : Exploring Nature With Children

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This week in Exploring Nature With Children is ‘Candlemas Week’.

Candlemas takes its name from the blessing of candles for use in church throughout the coming year, and marks the presentation of the Holy Child in the Temple, where Simeon held Jesus and called him a ‘Light to the World’. In pre-Christian times February 1st was an important festival to celebrate the returning light.

Here are some helpful links to get you going:

Do let me know how you get on.

Happy exploring!

Our Phenology Wheels

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A few years ago, we kept phenology wheels that combined the natural world with the liturgical seasons and festivals. Rose and I have decided to each keep one again for this year.
The larger section for each month is where we will record the natural world, the smaller section is for the festivals; January’s being Epiphany. (We both chose Epiphany to record.)
There really are so many different ways to keep a nature journal!

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Holly Nature Study

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This morning we were reading The Christmas Book by Enid Blyton, a beautiful, living book,  that details the customs and traditions of Christmas, tells the story of the birth of Christ, and tucks in a wee bit of nature study too.

We read the chapter about Holly, and picked some from our garden to study.

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Rose cut up some of the berries to see what was inside, and we sketched the holly in our journals whilst listening to Bing Crosby singing ‘The Holly and the Ivy’

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Rose wrote a short dictation from the story we had read.

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I copied out part of the story that had most interested me.

It’s beginning to feel a lot like Christmas!

Happy exploring

Happy Michaelmas!

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I love this time of year; the sense of abundance in nature combines with the cosiness of home. After a long summer of lazy days, we return to our familiar daily routines. Everything begins to turn inward again as we prepare our hearts and homes for the long winter months ahead.

Where I live, the Michaelmas Daisy is everywhere.

The Michaelmas Daisies, among dede weeds, 
Bloom for St Michael’s valorous deeds.
And seems the last of flowers that stood,
Till the feast of St. Simon and St. Jude.

On that lovely note, I wish you a happy and healthy Michaelmas, from my home to yours!

Lectio Divina And Expanding Nature Study

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“Lectio Divina” is a Latin term for the Christian practice of “divine reading”, a way to read the scriptures, meditating upon them, and moving forward in prayer. The reader is changed by this deep and powerful experience; but what has this to do with nature study?

These three stages of learning are reflected through many ideas of education. They are a truly wonderful way to approach nature study. Let us look at the three stages of Lectio Divina and how we can bring these ideas to the study of nature.

  • Reading ~ Observing

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When studying nature, this would be the stage at which we closely observe. Like the grammar stage of The Trivium, we are learning the facts about our subject. We spend time closely observing nature, learning, reading books and field guides and building up a store of knowledge about our subject.

In our nature journals, this may look like:

Key facts such as the location, date, time of day or night.

Brief notes on the weather.

We may make quick sketches to capture what we see, notes at the sides of our sketches to help us remember key details, such as notes on textures, position etc.

Latin names of subjects

Measurements

Photographs

  • Meditating ~ Thinking

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This is such an important step in nature study; not to be rushed or missed by the harried parent! Reflecting upon what we have learned, making our own connections, thinking critically is important to building a relationship with, and understanding, the natural world around us. How does all that we observed in stage one fit together? This would be the logic stage within The Trivium.

In our journals we may make notes on connections; ‘what does this remind me of ?’ I would strongly urge you to read this blog post by naturalist John Muir Laws: Prompts For Deeper Nature Observation. His questions, I notice, I wonder, It reminds me of, are wonderful, thought provoking tools.

  • Praying ~ Responding

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The final stage is our response to all we have learned and discovered. We have been changed by our experiences and have a need to communicate and express that. We cannot do this stage well, or authentically, without the building blocks of the previous stages, like the Rhetoric stage in The Trivium.

Our nature journals are the perfect place to respond; we may choose to:

Create more intricate, fully formed paintings or drawings of the focus of our nature study.

 

An arrangement of pressed flowers or leaves

Quotes that pertain to the subject

Passages of scripture

Poetry; either written by ourselves in response to our wonder at the focus of our studies, or poetry written by another, that our heart connects with.

Lists – insects, wild flowers, mammals, trees, whatever appeals to the journal keeper.

These stages are not fixed rules, but an oft-practiced pattern to mark the way as we progress in our journaling of the natural world, and enter into a deeper relationship and knowledge.

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Happy exploring!

 

 

Another Fresh New Year Is Here…

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Happy New year!

I hope it is a peaceful one, filled with wonder x

Rosie’s Socks, Or The Meditative Power Of Knitting

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I am well on the way to getting Rosie’s socks finished. My dad was admitted to hospital on the Tuesday before Christmas with pneumonia, he was extremely poorly, so I sat at his bedside, the gentle clicking of my needles filling the silence. My stitches helped to keep me calm, an unspoken prayer for when words were too difficult.

Often, I was simply too tired to knit. When not at dad’s bedside, I was at home, busy with Christmas preparations, or in the car, driving my mum to the hospital.

As he began to improve, my hands were busy with washing and feeding dad, then bringing newspapers, or helping him speak to mum on the telephone.

I am beyond thankful that dad is back at home now, but I have been reminded of what Christmas really is to me; family, togetherness, warmth, and love. That darkness and despair will not go on forever;

For a child is born to us,

a son is given to us.

The government will rest on his shoulders.

And he will be called:

Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God,

Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

His government and its peace

will never end.

Isaiah 9:6-7