Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Do You Have a Wild Child?

Over the weekend I started reading the book How to Raise a Wild Child; The Art and Science of Falling in Love with Nature.  This book came highly recommended to me by my sister and so far I'm just loving it!

I know how important it is for us to get outside and get out in nature.  

I know when I'm upset or we're having an awful day of homeschooling getting outside and into the woods often helps.  

We mellow out, tune into the sounds and sights around us and just immerse ourselves in the wonder of the natural world around us.

We plan frequent hikes and any day that the weather is decent I tend to kick the boys outside the moment school is over.

 I have watched them turn into budding little scientists by noticing insects, birds, and animals.  

They observe and mention the different changes throughout the seasons.



We are fortunate to live on a lake and have wetlands nearby.  Our property abuts forestry land and we have a huge field next door too.  We have access to everything from sand to trees, to rocks to animals and that makes my boys fortunate.

Even if you don't have a variety of ecosystems in your backyard though the book assures that most any time spent outside near some grass, trees, or other components of nature will eventually lead kids to discoveries, asking questions and ties with nature.

 Much like all the learning my kids always did all day long every day of their lives (that I never seemed to be aware of fully until I started homeschooling), I never realized just how much my kids interact with nature and the natural world.

I know we spend time outside and I think they mostly enjoy it but I figured they were just kids playing and having fun.

But as I paid attention this weekend; really paid attention I saw so much more.  They're drawn to nature.  

Alec in particular is fascinated by bugs, animals, and plants.

  • He reads non-fiction books about all sorts of animals (even extinct ones), food chains, biomes, trees, seeds and plants.  
  • He has a bird feeder in his bedroom window and delights in watching the birds.  
  • He has a bird clock and a bird call Identiflyer so he can learn the sounds of the different birds.  
This weekend he delighted in setting up a tent in our front yard and both him and Evan sat inside it; occasionally watching the birds go up to the feeder.  They saw black capped chickadees, male and female cardinals, nuthatches, and more.  Alec would try to mimic their calls and see if he could get the birds to make noises in return.

They Learn SO MUCH from being in and around nature! 
working hard for what they want
checking it all out

They even had a picnic inside! 

 


The boys had so much fun in our tent that they asked to have a camp out in our yard.  It's still pretty cold at night so I told them we'd have to wait until it warmed up significantly but I was surprised that the two boys who hated camping out last time we tried it were willing to try again.

As the afternoon wore on I convinced the boys to take a walk.

They had been running around the yard, swinging, and riding their bikes and scooters.  They started to complain they were bored and I offered to walk them to their great aunt's house to visit with her and their father.

 Alec ended up biking and even while biking stopped to inspect a squirrel he found by the side of the road.  He's been inspecting and picking flowering weeds & wild flowers too; we had a few attached to his bike by the time we arrived at our destination.

Once there the boys saw a few wild turkeys up close and watched even more birds visiting their great aunt's bird feeders.


Riding by himself on the road; reviewing the rules of the road
as I nervously walked on the other side trying to keep him in view

As the weekend wore on we had even more interactions with nature.  We found a baby sun turtle in the garage.  The boys and their cousins set up two different habitats for the turtle; a wet one and a dry one.

They also had buckets with crawfish and baby fish in them.

They looked up what to feed to the baby sun turtle and learned all about how to tell the males from the females, how to care for pet turtles, and they tried to pick just the right green plants to feed to the turtle.  "Mom, you can't feed them lettuce.  Lettuce has no nutritional value.  They prefer aquatic plants."

After reviewing a few names with the turtle (where they all swore that
the turtle nodded yes or no) they named him Stripes.  
They watched the geese and made sure to keep all animals, even the cats, away from the babies.

They kept an eye on the water to make sure it wasn't getting to warm either.  They were great little turtle & fish sitters.

 On Monday, they started walking along the edge of the lake trying to catch fish and looking for more baby turtles.  Pretty soon they had all convinced me the water was warm and since they were wet anyways they changed into bathing suits and spent the afternoon outside swimming and playing in and around the water.

They swam, practiced their hand stands and holding their breath, and splashed.  They foraged for rocks, looked for more crayfish, and examined all the plants too.  They caught a few fish with bread and a net and studied them up close.

Alec reminded Evan that the sand was hot and could be used to warm them up after being in the cold water.

Evan found a fresh water snail and after much debate the boys decided to try and put the snail in the same bucket as the fish.  They were fearful the fish might try and eat the snail but they decided to watch closely and guard the snail.  They then told me all about what types of things fish in our lake are known for eating and brought our whole conversation back to all the reading they did about the baby turtles.

They were ecstatic when they found another baby turtle later in the afternoon.  They informed me that the new turtle was a girl since her shell was all flat on the bottom and males usually have a bit of an indent.

I realized that may not apply to baby turtles but was impressed that all they had taught themselves about sun turtles.  They set up a habitat for her near the edge of the lake and set up some camouflage for her to try and keep the predators at bay.
Looking for turtles 

Using his plastic sword to "bushwhack" 

Getting ready to take the plunge 

And he's under! 

Warming up with the hot sand 

Alec was pretending this bush was a whomping
willow like in Harry Potter; he also used it to
try and scare the fish toward Ian 

Catching fish with a net 

Studying their fish 

Practicing hand stands



Their fish 

Their newest turtle 

Alec thought the water was just a bit chilly for swimming and spent most of his time on the shore.

We brought out our watercolor crayons and Alec spent the afternoon giving himself some temporary tattoos.    Evan asked for some too and they had fun drawing on themselves. Evan wanted me to draw the sword of Gryffindor on him complete with ruby crystals.

That soon morphed into Alec creating some art.  He brought out some paper and set up some rocks to hold it down.  He set a bucket of lake water near him and proceeded to draw using the watercolor crayons.

Next thing I knew all the kids were drawing animals.  They've never really used my watercolor crayons but they enjoyed this new medium.  Alec tried drawing an ocelot, Evan (who HATES drawing) drew a few king cobra snakes, and Ian tried drawing a coyote.  Alec went on to complete an entire page of animals.

I guess I'm already growing a few Wild Children and I am so happy about that!
Animal drawings 

 Alec's bow and arrow had Phoenix tail feathers
And Evan's sword of Gryffindor 

Evan's snakes 

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