The rain FINALLY let up enough this morning for us to make our way out to the Fern Forest Nature Center in Coconut Creek to go for our very first “structured” nature walk. We go on walks all the time and explore – just to see whats around. But THIS walk we were able to use our new Exploring Nature with Children curriculum!
What I love about this curriculum is that it’s pretty detailed for people who have no idea where to even start with this – people like me. While I really enjoy the Charlotte Mason style of learning, I’ve been struggling with letting go of the old teacher in me and being a bit more relaxed with learning pace. I think a lot of it has to do with that weird “You better not screw this up” voice that’s been in my head since we made the decision to homeschool. I found myself really longing for that intentional movement that we didn’t really have last week aside from the ‘schedule’ guiding us – so I figured starting with Nature study would be the best way to slow down. I must say I am pleasantly surprised with how wonderfully this curriculum is put together especially for people like me who need check lists and ‘ideas’ to be sure I’m covering it all while promoting open ended independent discovery!
So today, I decided to put all of the concepts into play this week to get them ready to start week one next week, without really diving into the curriculum. We started off walking the boardwalk with our nature basket, seeing all that we could see.
We talked about & googled more information about Ferns, since that was the name of the forest and the girls were fasciated with their curled edges.
We wandered into the Nature Center – which I had NO idea existed when I found this park on Google. The girls LOVED it!
We then ventured out onto the Cypress Trail, a half mile loop through a few different kinds of natural areas – from ponds, to cypress swamps to the higher ground “forests”.
Look at this cool little mushroom forest growing on the fallen tree – I had never seen anything like this before!
These trees were amazing and the girls thought they looked like snakes winding through the ground and along the rocks.
Alex pointed out this butterfly was using camouflage to look like a dead leaf so that it’s predators wouldn’t attack it. “Although”, she continued, “He’s not doing a good job of hiding in plain sight right now because that leaf is alive and it’s super green”.
Another mushroom forest!
Mimi wanted to feel what the Moss on the trees felt like – so she reached out and touched it!
Once we got home, we officially started our nature journal. We took all the nature things we collected from the forest and sprawled them out onto the living room floor to “document our findings”.
We walked through the different components of the Nature Journal and slowly catalogued each of our favorite ‘things’.
Mimi and Papi worked together on their page.
Alex measured her favorite leaves to put their details into her nature journal.
We drew our best versions of our favorite nature things, then tried to figure out their names, and wrote out identifying characteristics, like “tiny, bumpy leaf” or “browning, dried out crunchy leaf”.
All in all – I was pretty impressed with how well they did on their very first structured nature study! We’ll do this three more times this week to get the process in place and we’ll get started next week on our first week in the Nature Curriculum – Seeds!