We love our nature studies! Since we can’t always get out and sometimes we just prefer staying home, I make it a point to surround our home with nature as much as possible. We often collect little finds on our hikes and display them in a basket or on a shelf. Sometimes we’ll draw or paint pictures of them. We plant lots of flowers and other plants in an effort to attract pollinators and birds so we can observe them. I printed and laminated a large poster of common backyard bird species to help us identify them. It hangs on our back patio where we most often sit and watch them. Our go-to place to find native plants is the Urban Naturalist. The owner, Marcus Descant, is very knowledgeable about the local ecosystem and has a large selection of native plants, which will attract specific beneficial insects and some which can be used to deter unwanted ones. He’s passionate about his work and happy to discuss it with the kids.
Another favorite activity we truly treasure in our home is “tea time.” Nearly every afternoon around 3 or 4pm, we gather for snacks, poetry, and music. Beforehand, we’ll pick a composer and a poet to focus on and get a book for each at the library if we can find it or purchase it. Then, we figure out a plan for the snacks. Sometimes it’s very simple like fruit and popcorn, sandwiches or other easy to arrange finger foods. Sometimes we find a recipe together for something more elaborate and everyone pitches in to make it. We often make sweet tea, herbal tea, lemonade, or just serve water. Once everything is arranged and served, I play the chosen composer (or any other type musician we choose) and read just one page from a book about him. Children usually have short attention spans and we like to take our time, drawing out the readings over a couple of weeks or more. Then we read one poem by the chosen poet. Currently we are studying Chopin and Walt Whitman. After the readings, we may discuss or just talk or the kids goof around and slowly make their way to whatever activity they’ve decided to move on to. But for these few minutes, nearly everyday, we gather, we connect, and we learn something. Everyone in my home will agree, it’s one of our most looked forward to activities.
Still itching to get out? We eventually get restless again too and venture on to find new places to explore. It’s officially fall and we try to get all the outdoor time we can while the weather is nice. If you haven’t been to City Park in New Iberia, it has a lot to offer. There’s a large playground, a skate park, and a shady little pond with beautiful cypress trees. It gives us a great opportunity to do a little learning, be it about ducks, trees, insects, or water. There’s a bench next to the pond and it’s the perfect spot to sit and observe nature so be sure to pack some drawing pencils and notebooks. Kids getting restless? Time to hit the playground. Pack a lunch or find a local place to pick one up from and relax while the kids burn some energy.
I’m a homeschool mom of two, ages 11 and 5. We’ve been homeschooling from the beginning for 6 years and our preferred method is unschooling with a Charlotte Mason twist. I love homeschooling for the freedom it gives us and because I enjoy learning alongside my kids. Our favorite ways to indulge our interests are by exploring the world around us, doing experiments and activities, talking to people who are passionate about their fields, and reading well written books. I believe so much in what we do, I’ve kept it through divorce and now working full time from home. It’s my hope to continue our journey until college or whatever next step my kids choose to take.
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