Not long ago a group of mamas and I ventured to the richest corner of the planet (well, until Dubai came along anyway) Newport Beach to hear Richard Louv discuss his book in front of a relatively small audience. Sadly, he confirmed what many of us discuss regularly and already know to be true–ours appears to be the last generation to have experienced a childhood spent mostly outdoors in areas free of playground equipment, and as my dad and I like to say, only half-jokingly “free of adults telling children when to turn right or left or jump up and down.”
Many of you know that in addition to unplugging the TV we also unplugged preschool just before this last year began, as my son seemed to be turning into a social drone. I know, we may soon be officially kicked out of the O.C. for trying to live an examined life. Our preschool anecdote was simple, get him the heck outside for most of the day since childhood is passing him by at the speed of light.
Enter the lovely Green Hour Challenges so that we may enjoy nature together.
Thank you to Harmony Art Mom for getting this going!!
If you want to follow along with us you can:
1. View the assignments here
2. Then download The Green Hour Assignment Notebook Pages
3. Also download for free a copy of The Handbook of Nature Study
Let’s get the heck outdoors!
Green Hour Challenge #1
1. Read pages 1-8 of the Handbook of Nature Study. Highlight or underline anything that you as the nature study teacher find will help you in your guiding your children. If you read a sentence that you agree with, mark it so you will remember to come back to it when you need some encouragement.
2. “In nature-study the work begins with any plant or creature which chances to interest the pupil.” So here is your challenge this week. Spend 10-15 minutes outdoors with your children (4-5 hours would be better), even if it is really cold and yucky. Bundle up if you need to. Take a walk around your yard or down your own street. Enjoy being outdoors. After you come inside, sit the children down and ask them one at a time to tell you something that they saw on their walk. Ask them what was interesting to them. Maybe they picked up a leaf or a stick and brought it back indoors and now they can really take a look at it. Make a big deal about whatever it is that they talk about.
3. After your discussion, come up with two things to investigate further. For instance, if they saw a bird on their walk and they came inside and talked about it, ask them if they want to know more about that bird. You have a whole week to spend some time looking it up. Maybe they found an acorn or a berry on a bush that they were interested in. That could be your focus for the week.
4. After your nature study time with the children, pull out your Handbook of Nature Study and see if the item the children are interested in is listed in the index. If it is, look up the information for yourself and then relate interesting facts to the children sometime during the next week.
Well, it’s taken us more than a week to post our Challenge #1 findings, but I’m happy to report it’s not due to a lack of being out in nature. We went on a couple of camping trips and a couple of hikes. We decided our hike at the San Joaquin Wildlife Sanctuary would be great for this first challenge. Hiking alone with 2 kids is a challenge! Sorry no photos; it was the one day in my life that I forgot the camera. We saw many cool things at the sanctuary but were all equally fascinated by the big Fever tree (particularly it’s massive thorns) we stumbled upon. We were also interested in some ladybugs since we just released a bunch onto our rose bushes. What we found out about the Fever tree is that birds love to nest in it since snakes can’t navigate the thorns. Regarding Ladybugs, it turns out they only live a short 2-3 weeks. No wonder they’ve been mating like crazy. Also, in that time they’ll eat about 5, 000 aphids. Awesome, because that’s about how many I think we have on each rose bush right now!