A Season of Learning
Peak color is in full swing here at the schoolhouse. Our maple trees are displaying their brilliant red and orange leaves, while the Willow, Catalpa and Osage Orange trees have turned their dismal yellow. Even the evergreens are shedding needles. Shaking their branches to make the needles rain down has become a favorite part of our morning walks.
With Autumn’s arrival we’ve been observing and talking about change. The falling leaves, birds flying south, outside temperatures and the adjustments to our wardrobe have all made for great learning.
Yesterday we observed swarms of bald-faced hornets, yellow jackets, wasps, and bees enjoying their last meals from fallen pears in the back yard. It is certainly exciting to watch these stinging insects as they gather in such a small area.
We found a used Fisher-Price digital camera at a thrift store for a mere 35 cents. For the last year it was nothing more than a pretend camera for the boys to knock around. Things changed a few months ago as our oldest began showing an interest in photography. We loaded batteries in the camera and much to our surprise, it worked.
We take the camera on walks regularly now. Although many of our photo outings are about the pure fun of taking pictures, sometimes we work with a theme. Our themes have included; things that are tall, things that are yellow, bugs, and flowers. The themed photo walks help the boys look for details they may otherwise ignore.
What better way to enhance a simple walk than with a scavenger hunt. This activity encourages a closer look at the natural world.
With nothing more than an egg carton in hand, we start by deciding on a collecting theme; flowers, seeds, rocks, or just things that are interesting. With a theme in mind the process is simple, find six unique specimens to place in the collection box.
Once completed, the filled collection box becomes a topic for conversation. We encourage our oldest boy to share his collections with visitors. By doing this he is encouraged to recall details and improve his speaking skills.
There are so many great Autumn projects that use leaves. This year we wanted to include them in art projects. We made maple leaf window decorations, a leaf collection book, and three painted canvases.
We buy our fair share of toys, but it sure is nice when a homemade creation can out perform the expensive toys. Acorn beads are a homemade toy that has exceeded our expectations. Making the beads took just two steps. First, we baked the acorns to kill any acorn weevil larva. Then, we drilled a hole in each acorn. That’s all.
We added some old wooden beads to our set and have been stringing together lots of patterns. The Acorn beads have seen hours of use and will likely see much more.