February 2013 — Late Summer

by Rose-Marie

Previous post: Introduction

I decided to start our nature study journalling with the beginning of Daughter’s first year of school, which began around the end of January here in Australia. Naturally, it took a month to get around to it. Since I can’t remember the truth, I’m going to pretend that was deliberate, as I had come up with a brilliant idea to visit each of the major terrain types in our state, once each season. We live in ‘dry woodlands.’

I need to get another pet hate out of my system, if you’ll bear with me.  I think it is silly the way Australians whinge about the seasons not conforming to an inverted Northern Hemisphere system, when the Indigenous people have perfectly good and, unsurprisingly, more accurate calendars of their own. I am on a one-woman crusade to try and make people notice this and will post this link featuring our local indigenous calendar (which seems true to the Melbourne area and a fair chunk of central Victoria) whenever it comes up in online conversations. Which it just has. Heh.

Just so you all know, I have great plans for my daughter’s handwriting to end up better than mine. I do my best to encourage her to narrate the captions for her pictures, but as I said in the previous post, her learning challenges (Echolalia) get in the way a bit. So, for the foreseeable future, any writing in the journal will be a team effort.

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This is the one hand-drawn picture she did about our first round of nature study tours. We went to the Hattah-Kulkyne National Park (would link if I could find a site with decent photos) to see the Mallee and Inland waterways terrain types. Lovely scenery, nearly went insane with the flies trying to climb into our eyes, ears, and noses. What you see below is an ant hill.

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Her contribution to the notation was “the sand was orange and the ants were black.”

Next post: Early Summer to Late Winter

Rose-Marie was one of those enthusiastic planners who began researching when she was pregnant with her first. She wanted to homeschool because it sounded like an affordable adventure, then she met her kids personally…
DD is 6 years old and has Echolalia and some processing issues so isn’t speaking fluently yet. DS is 4 years old, has retained primitive reflexes and while there may be a deity somewhere who knows what’s going to happen with this kid, he/she/it hasn’t chosen to inform us. They live on a hill in rural southern Australia without enough solar panels and like it there.

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Introduction to My Nature Studies Series

by Rose Marie

Virtually everyone thinks nature study is a good and healthful thing to do. Most people think nature journalling is a good thing to do as well, but many find it hard to get enthusiastic enough about it to actually go out and *do* it.

One problem people have is knowing where to start. They want some kind of method to follow to feel like they are doing it properly. Looking out the window, I expect all of us would agree that there is some kind of “method to the madness” but it may not be humanly possible to sort it all out so we’d better not allow that to stop us! I must admit though, I felt a need for guidance when I was dithering aboutwallaby-feeding beginning nature journalling with my daughter. For several reasons, personality and language disorder among them, “draw something” was not something she’d respond to. I wasn’t even sure “draw this” would work, so I purchased some journal pages to get us started. Being in Australia, I purchased mine from Downunder Lit but I have it from a reliable source that North Americans get excited over The Handbook of Nature Study. Apologies to the rest of you, you’ll have to look on Pinterest!

The other problem people have with beginning nature journalling with small kids is, well, it looks like it was made by a small kid! There is something about nature journalling that can make a person feel like everyone else’s kids were born proficient water colourists while your kids’ drawing looks like a dog’s breakfast. What I hope to do in this series is show the evolution of my daughter’s nature journal, right from her first entry. Obviously *my child’s* nature journal could never look like a dog’s breakfast, not even to the unenlightened out there, but I must confess, it does look like the work of a small child. I would like to invite you to keep us company as we journal on…

But first, let me get my pet hate out of the way. I know it’ll come out sooner or later, so better to get it over with.

*There is no such thing as “fake nature” unless it really is made of plastic, ok? Weeds growing through cracks in the footpath are not very interesting in the scheme of things, but they are are as real as anyone else’s farm, mountain or coral reef. If you live in a concrete jungle and all the nature you have to look at is weeds and the neighbours’ hanging baskets, look at them. Seasons affect them. Bugs munch them. They are real! If you don’t even have that, look at the clouds. Everyone has weather and weather is real enough that people spend careers studying it.

*I quite agree that grass isn’t all that thrilling, but learning how to find the grass in your front yard interesting is a valuable lesson. A more valuable lesson than seeing a bear or a swamp wallaby, cool as they are. If nature study was only about the cool factor, we could go to the zoo once a year and call it good.
Ok. I’ve got that out of my system. Moving along…

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What a grand beginning…
I think I said she could cut out the picture or stick the whole page in. I guess she wanted to do both.

Next post: February 2013 — Late Summer

Rose-Marie was one of those enthusiastic planners who began researching when she was pregnant with her first. She wanted to homeschool because it sounded like an affordable adventure, then she met her kids personally…
DD is 6 years old and has Echolalia and some processing issues so isn’t speaking fluently yet. DS is 4 years old, has retained primitive reflexes and while there may be a deity somewhere who knows what’s going to happen with this kid, he/she/it hasn’t chosen to inform us. They live on a hill in rural southern Australia without enough solar panels and like it there.