Studying nature with Miss Mason

A few months ago at Goodwill, I spotted (then purchased) three volumes of The Original Homeschooling Series by Charlotte Mason.  We do a lot of Charlotte-Mason-ish schooling around here (living books, nature study, picture study, etc) and yet I've never read her work, other than excerpts online from time to time, and heavily-quoted books about her methods.

Recently I've begun reading Charlotte Mason's first volume, Home Education.  I am pleasantly surprised at how enjoyable it has been to read her words.  I think she knew the mind of a child very, very well- and set about to engage within each child an interest in the things around them.

I have been particularly re-inspired by her words about really seeing and observing the natural world.  I read an idea of hers last night aloud to Mark:
It is a capital plan for children to keep a calendar- the first oak leaf, the first tadpole, the first cowslip, the first catkin, the first ripe blackberries, where seen, and when.  The next year they will know when and where to look out for their favourites, and will, every year, be in a condition to add new observations.  Think of the zest and interest, the object, which such a practice will give to daily walks and little excursions. 
{Just as an aside: I am quite delighted by the fact that Miss Mason used the word "capital".  I might have to start sneaking in that phrase around here: "Kids, I think it would be a capital plan if you chose to do your chores right now."  And another aside:  I think we might have to work on that bit about "daily walks".  Yipes.}

I digress.  Anyway- don't you think that's a great idea?  I know that my Ella would LOVE such a project: a clean calendar with blank squares to fill with firsts.  I don't know about a cowslip or a catkin, but just think of the possibilities: the first robin spotted, the first acorn found, the first snowfall, the first fallen leaves, the first bloom, the first pumpkin, the first little plant coming up in the garden, etc.  Goodness, even I want to do it!  And just think of all the possibilities for little drawings.  

So I'm trying to figure out how to build that in to our school year.  In the meantime, I am inspired to be an observer of the beauty God has created: to slow down, to take the time to see it (and to draw it!)

Today when Ella asked me what she might do, I suggested she get out her nature journal and draw things around the yard.  She wanted to, but didn't know where to start, so I said, "Why don't you wander through the yard and collect different leaves and start drawing them?"  I set up a spot in the shade, she got her journal and pencils and some leaves, and went at it.  A couple minutes into it she was frustrated.  (She's such a little perfectionist, that girl.)  I told her to wait a sec and I'd get my own journal and we could do it together.  So we did.  After a few minutes Audra joined us... then Isaias.... then Isaac.  Here are our drawings:

Three-year-old Audra's nature drawings: see that flower there on the right-hand side?  

Isaias's strawberry leaf (traced)

Isaac's leaves (also traced).  I think.
Ella's drawings: a strawberry leaf and berry, and a hydrangea leaf and petal.

Detail of my page.  (I'd forgotten how much I like to draw!)


  1. I love your heart for your kids and their education. I want to be your kid :)

    I love the idea of a firsts calendar. My kids would love it. I'd love to hear how you plan to fit it into your year.

    I haven't really even thought of next year too much yet. Probably should.

    1. You're cute, wanting to be my kid. ;)

      I've been thinking about the calendar idea a lot today... wondering if it might be better to do a family calendar where we work on it all together. I'll have to talk it over with Mark...

      (((hugs!))) Email me sometime. I want to catch up on your LIFE!

  2. so glad you are posting often. I enjoy it really is capital. Be fun to see you in person...maybe we'll stop by?!

    1. ~smile~
      Fun new word to use, huh? I thought it several times today but never used it.

      Stop by any time. Or tell me when and we'll come to you. Jake said you feel icky. Tell me what sounds good and we'll be a delivery crew and entertain your girls! :)


Thank you for commenting! I love hearing from you, and I will do
my best to reply back to you in the comment section.