Homeschooling on a homestead definitely has its challenges-but thankfully the curriculum we use is very much in line with our lifestyle and therefore execution is easy.
Most of the time…we are human after all 😉
This weeks topic was a PreK/K Birds for kids lesson. I think one of our biggest obstacles has always been finding the time to sit down and actually cover the course material in previous curriculums that we have tried because it required enormous blocks of indoor “sit-down” time. In A Childs World (not an affiliate link just one very happy mamma!), a large percentage of course material can be completed outside and for us that fits us perfectly in every way since we are outdoors so much of the time.
And I am all about easy.
We have been covering topics like the life cycle of birds through reading a variety of books on the topic, how birds are able to fly by looking at own own chickens and what their wings look like (Not that chickens are great examples of flying birds–but ya know!!), their nesting habits and how eggs are formed.
Our favorite book this go around was: Birds by Kevin Henkes
After reading this lovely book that encourages creative thinking, we took to the art table for some hands on painting. Using feathers that we found and a few neat ones that we had purchased both kids enjoyed creating their own rendition of what they though it might look like if birds tail feathers had been dipped into paint and painted the sky.
Can you imagine how beautiful it would be if birds really could paint the sky?
We (I) spent our afternoon out mucking animal stalls while the kids played in the hay loft and dutifully collected chicken feathers and stray hay to construct their version of a chickens nest. They then took the project one step further by running back and forth to the chicken coop to collect eggs (one by one I might add, but hey at least a chore was being completed WHILE they were learning, thinking and manipulating materials) and dutifully arranged the eggs proudly into the nest they had created without breaking a single one…can I say win-win baby!?!
It was one of those beautiful moments where all aspects of our life were coming together in a glorious way. And in a very effortless sort of way and to me this is the essence of true learning- to inspire our children to get out there and use all their senses to explore and think about the world that surrounds them. In a guided sorta’ way that is.
Some of our favorite bird-centric moments in this weeks Birds for Kids lessons were those where we were really able to intertwine creativity and tactile learning with a topic that just begs to be taken outdoors.
Our favorite sensory activity this week was of course water bead play! We set up a tote filled with clear and blue water beads (These are my favorite because they can be ready in a few hours with the use of hot water!), a vinyl goose, a tad of water to help it feel like a body of water, a small nest with wooden beads and some one inch stands of yellow and red yarn to act as water food. Rather than construct a solid path of action of the kiddos I simply invited them to play with the bin and explained that This is the mother goose, These are her eggs in Her nest. This is Their home and there are lots of wiggly worms to be found in the water. It was fun to watch them take their Goose and dive her into the water to try and catch some food on her beak that she would promptly return back to her nest so as to have food ready for the babies when they hatched. My eldest decided to count to see who had caught the most worms. Such an engaging and immersive learning experience that really just feels like playing!
Our favorite outdoor craftivity was making a variety of bird feeders and nest aides to hang out doors. It was the perfect moment to discuss migration and that as spring nears, many birds will return from their warm weather vacations to raise their offspring. Since Spring is nigh on the horizon, the days are getting longer and warmer why not help our feathered friends with a welcome home feast! We strung up colorful Fruitful-O’s (which can be found in most natural food/crunchy isles), made peanut butter and bird seed pine cone feeders, and made coconut “suet” seed feeders. In addition we used the the opportunity to discuss in further detail materials used for nest making and how each bird species builds nests a little differently. We collected mesh netting from our orange and apple sacks and stuffed them full of various nesting materials (straw, cotton balls, hay twine, and left over yarn bits) and tied them to trees with Dads help. Lastly and perhaps one of our favorite activities was building a bird house for a federally protected bird: The Northern Flicker…and annoying but otherwise beautiful bird who LOVES to drill tennis ball sized holes into southern walls of buildings for its nest…unless of course there is a suitable site already present…I say win!
Some other honorable mentions from this past week of bird-tastic discoveries and learning were:
- (Math concepts- counting) Practicing numbers by enjoying a bird hunt…seeing how many birds you could find and who found the most.
- (Math concepts – measuring)Making and playing with birdseed play doh.
- (Art -Process) Searching out bird related imagery in magazines (birds, eggs, bushes, seeds, etc.) and using them to create a bird collage scene.
- (Geography) We learned about birds that live in wildly different regions and are amazingly adapted to seemingly harsh environments and chose to focus on Ostriches in Africa and how they endure the hot, dry savanna’s.
What a fun week it has been, next week we will be diving into the world of Frogs and Amphibians! Since we are blessed with a quant little vernal pool on site that doubles as a frog breeding Mecca and aptly dubbed “Big Frog Pond” and it seems they are convening there once more it make natural sense that they become our next topic of study- Stay tuned!!