The Beauty of Earth and Heavens

Welcome to the May Carnival of Natural Parenting: Growing in the Outdoors
This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama. This month our participants have shared how they encourage their children to connect with nature and dig in the dirt. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.
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Charlotte Mason strongly believed in spending time in nature. As part of our weekly nature study, we spend time outside learning about what we find and taking notes and sketches in our nature journal.

I thought I’d share a few Charlotte Mason quotes in regards to nature study along with some photos we’ve taken of our recent nature studies.  It’s spring and new life is budding everywhere you look. It’s the best time (achoo!) to get outside and learn about the world around us.
It’s so easy as parents, especially parents who are also teachers, to feel like they need to teach all day long. I love the idea of allowing the children to take in what they can of God’s creations all on their own.

We’ve recently had some closer than normal encounters with wildlife. Two weeks ago our dog started barking in the yard and would not stop. We noticed he had something on the ground that he was gently poking at with his paw. We went outside to discover an injured squirrel.

                                                        

The squirrel grabbed onto a stick and we placed him in a box and took him inside. He was unable to move his back legs. We frantically started searching the internet trying to learn what to do next. It had rained very hard the night before, so the first thing we did was get him dry and warm. We found some great resources online that immediately sent us a list of steps to carry out when you first find an injured squirrel. This was a learning experience for all of us. We placed a hot water bottle inside a box, then covered it with a cloth diaper and placed the squirrel on the diaper.

We found a local wildlife rehabilitator. I called her on the phone and we drove the squirrel to her home, field trip! This lady was amazing! She had cages on  her back porch of squirrels that were previously injured and were recovering. There were opossums, birds, owls, and a roly-poly raccoon baby. She showed us the opossum babies that were rescued from inside their mother’s pouch. There were nine of them! She explained that the opossum was the only marsupial in our area and it was also the mammal with the most teeth, 50 in all! She showed us another  baby opossum that was just brought to her care, it died while we were there. It was too small to live without its mama. She also showed us baby birds that she needed to feed every half an hour. She is one busy woman!

My daughter also noticed some caterpillars on the porch, the lady said she could take all of those she wanted. Big Z was so excited to take a caterpillar home. That then led us to research more about caterpillars and what they eat, what kind of habitat they live it and identify our specific caterpillar.  As for our squirrel friend, she thinks he was hit by a car. She was going to start him on steroids and give him an X-ray later in the day. If it was a small injury he’d be okay if he broke his back, he’d be put  to sleep. This clearly was not the homeschool day I had planned. However, we also walked away from the day with more than I had originally hoped for. It was a win the whole way around.

Another spring time adventure happened when we were weeding the front corner of our yard. We have a picket fence that was being overtaken. I asked my husband to pull down all of the vines on the fence, he started then called our attention to a small robin’s nest with three little blue eggs inside.

 We clearly decided to leave the nest alone and leave the vines around it. Each day we’ve been able to take a small peek at the nest, they hatched the very next day. It has been amazing to watch how quickly they grow. We often would spend time in the yard working on the garden and see the mama and papa birdies flying around bringing worms to their babies. Yesterday the nest was empty. Another lesson learned in the beauty of earth and heavens.
Here are a few of my favorite Charlotte Mason quotes relating to Nature Study:

They must be let alone, left to themselves a great deal, to take in what they can of the beauty of earth and heavens.

(Vol 1, II, Out-Of-Door Life For The Children, p.44 )

This is all play to the children, but the mother is doing invaluable work; she is training their powers of observation and expression, increasing their vocabulary and their range of ideas by giving them the name and the uses of an object at the right moment,–when they ask, ‘What is it?’ and ‘What is it for?’ (Vol 1, II, Out-Of-Door Life For The Children, p.46-7 )
 
Children should be encouraged to watch, patiently and quietly, until they learn something of the habits and history of bee, ant, wasp, spider, hairy caterpillar, dragon-fly, and whatever of larger growth comes in their way. (Vol 1, II, Out-Of-Door Life For The Children, p.57 
 
The Sense of Beauty comes from Early Contact with Nature. (Vol 1, II, Out-Of-Door Life For The Children, p.68 )
 
Nature Knowledge the most important for Young Children.–It would be well if we all persons in authority, parents and all who act for parents, could make up our minds that there is no sort of knowledge to be got in these early years so valuable to children as that which they get for themselves of the world they live in. Let them once get touch with Nature, and a habit is formed which will be a source of delight through life. We were all meant to be naturalists, each in his degree, and it is inexcusable to live in a world so full of the marvels of plant and animal life and to care for none of these things. (Vol 1, II, Out-Of-Door Life For The Children, p.61)

But what about the wet days? The fact is, that rain, unless of the heaviest, does the children no harm at all if they are suitably clothed. (Vol 1, II, Out-Of-Door Life For The Children)
 

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Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!
Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

  • Get Out!Momma Jorje gives reasons she doesn’t think she gets outside enough and asks for your suggestions on making time for the outdoors.
  • How Does Your Garden Grow?The ArtsyMama shares her love of nature photography.
  • We Go Outside — Amy at Peace 4 Parents describes her family’s simple, experiential approach to encouraging appreciation of nature.
  • My Not-So-Green Thumb — Wolfmother confesses to her lack of gardening skills but expresses hope in learning alongside her son at Fabulous Mama Chronicles.
  • Enjoying Outdoors — Isil at Smiling like Sunshine describes how her children enjoy the nature.
  • Five Ideas to Encourage the Reluctant Junior Gardener — For the rare little ones who don’t like to get their hands dirty, Dionna at Code Name: Mama offers tips for encouraging an early love of dirt (despite the mess).
  • Connecting to NatureMamapoekie shares how growing your own vegetable patch connects your child to nature and urges them to not take anything for granted.
  • The Farmer’s Market Classroom — Jenn at Monkey Butt Junction shares how the Farmer’s Market has become her son’s classroom.
  • Seeds — Kat at Loving {Almost} Every Moment‘s hubby Ken shares his perspective on why gardening with their kiddos is so important . . . and enjoyable!
  • Toddlers in the Garden — Laura at A Pug in the Kitchen shares her excitement as she continues to introduce her toddler and new baby to the joys of fresh veggies, straight from the garden.
  • Nature’s Weave — MJ at Wander Wonder Discover explains how nature weaves its way into our lives naturally, magnetically, experientially, and spiritually.
  • Becoming Green — Kristina at Hey Red celebrates and nurtures her daughter’s blossoming love of the outdoors.
  • Little Gardener — Rosemary at Rosmarinus Officinalis looks forward to introducing her baby girl to gardening and exploring home grown foods for the first time.
  • Cultivating Abundance — You can never be poor if you have a garden! Lucy at Dreaming Aloud reflects on what she cultivates in her garden . . . and finds it’s a lot more than seeds!
  • Growing in the Outdoors: Plants and People — Luschka at Diary of a First Child reflects on how she is growing while teaching her daughter to appreciate nature, the origins of food, and the many benefits of eating home-grown.
  • How Not to Grow — Anna at Wild Parenting discusses why growing vegetables fills her with fear.
  • Growing in the Outdoors — Lily at Witch Mom Blog talks about how connecting to the natural world is a matter of theology for her family and the ways that they do it.
  • A Garden Made of Straw — Kelly at Becoming Crunchy shares tips on making a straw bale garden.
  • The Tradition of Gardening — Carrie at Love Notes Mama reflects on the gifts that come with the tradition of gardening.
  • Gardening Smells Like Home — Bethy at Bounce Me to the Moon hopes that her son will associate home grown food and lovely flowers with home.
  • The New Normal — Patti at Jazzy Mama writes about how she hopes that growing vegetables in a big city will become totally normal for her children’s generation.
  • Outside, With You — Amy at Anktangle writes a letter to her son, a snapshot of a moment in the garden together.
  • Farmer Boy — Abbie at Farmer’s Daughter shares how her son Joshua helps to grow and raise their family’s food.
  • Growing Kids in the Garden — Lisa at Granola Catholic shares easy ways to get your kids involved in the garden.
  • Growing Food Without a Garden — Don’t have a garden? “You can still grow food!” says Mrs Green of Little Green Blog. Whatever the size of your plot, she shows you how.
  • Growing Things — Liz at Garden Variety Mama shares her reasons for gardening with her kids, even though she has no idea what she’s doing.
  • MomentsUK Mummy Blogger explains how the great outdoors provides a backdrop for her family to reconnect.
  • Condo Kid Turns Composter and Plastic Police — Jessica from Cloth Diapering Mama has discovered that her young son is a true earth lover despite living in a condo with no land to call their own.
  • Gardening with Baby — Sheila at A Gift Universe shows us how her garden and her son are growing.
  • Why to Choose Your Local Farmer’s MarketNaturally Nena shares why she believes it’s important to teach our children the value of local farmers.
  • Unfolding into Nature — At Crunchy-Chewy Mama, Jessica Claire shares her desire to cultivate a reverence for nature through gardening, buying local food, and just looking out the window.
  • Urban Gardening With Kids — Lauren at Hobo Mama shares her strategies for city gardening with little helpers — without a yard but with a whole lot of enthusiasm.
  • Mama Doesn’t Garden — Laura at Our Messy Messy Life is glad her husband is there to instill the joys of gardening in their children, while all she has to do is sit back and eat homegrown tomato sandwiches.
  • Why We Make this Organic Garden Grow — Brenna at Almost All The Truth shares her reasons for gardening with her three small children.
  • 5 Ways to Help Your Baby Develop a Love of the Natural World — Charise at I Thought I Knew Mama believes it’s never too early to foster a love of the natural world in your little one.
  • April Showers Bring May PRODUCE — Erika at NaMammaSte discusses her plans for raising a little gardener.
  • Growing Outside — Seonaid at The Practical Dilettante discovers how to get her kids outside after weeks of spring rain.
  • Eating Healthier — Chante at My Natural Motherhood Journey talks about how she learns to eat healthier and encourages her children to do the same.
  • The Beauty of Earth and Heavens — Inspired by Charlotte Mason, Erica at ChildOrganics discovers nature in her own front yard.
  • Seeing the Garden Through the Weeds — Amanda at Let’s Take the Metro talks about the challenges of gardening with two small children.
  • Creating a Living Playhouse: Our Bean Teepee! — Kristin at Intrepid Murmurings shares how her family creates a living playhouse “bean teepee” and includes tips of how to involve kids in gardening projects.

  • Grooming a Tree-Hugger: Introducing the Outdoors
    — Ana at Pandamoly shares some of her planned strategies for making this spring and summer memorable and productive for her pre-toddler in the Outdoors.
  • Sowing Seeds of Life and Love — Suzannah at ShoutLaughLove celebrates the simple joys of baby chicks, community gardening, and a semi-charmed country life.
  • Experiencing Nature and Growing Plants Outdoors Without a Garden — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now shares some of her favorite ways her family discovered to fully experience nature wherever they lived.
  • Garden Day — Melissa at The New Mommy Files is thankful to be part of community of families, some of whom can even garden!
  • Teaching Garden Ettiquette to the Locusts — Tashmica from Mother Flippin’ (guest posting at Natural Parents Network) allows her children to ravage her garden every year in the hopes of teaching them a greater lesson about how to treat the world.
  • Why I Play with Worms. — Megan of Megadoula, Megamom and Megatired shares why growing a garden and raising her children go hand in hand.
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8 thoughts on “The Beauty of Earth and Heavens”

  1. What lovely quotes and photos! I like your idea of taking notes and sketches in nature journals. “Allowing the children to take in what they can of God’s creations all on their own” is a wonderful way to encourage a true love of nature. Deb @ LivingMontessoriNow.com

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  2. You know, I don’t know much about Charlotte Mason, but I believe I would have liked her very very much ;). And what a wonderful experience to visit the rehab center! I am always in awe of the animal rescuers, they are so dedicated and committed. Hope the squirrel made it okay…

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  3. Great quotes! How great for you and your kids to get such close-up experiences with animals in nature — both the squirrel and the birds! We had a robin nest in our front yard last year and it was SO exciting when the baby birds first came out and started flying & hopping about! Hope you have a lovely spring and many more explorations in the out of doors!

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  4. How amazing to have so many natural experiences for your children! I’m sure they will be telling friends about these for years to come. I love the quotes – especially the one about how even though a mother isn’t “doing” anything, she is still helping her children to learn on their own and explore their surroundings. And of course the one about how harmless rain is 🙂 I love letting them play in the rain and some people think I’m nuts, but I never want them to be afraid of or disappointed by nature’s natural processes.

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  5. What an educational trip to the wildlife specialist! One of our favorite (free!) places to go locally is a nature center that also takes in and rehabilitates injured wildlife. I can’t wait until Kieran shows a little more interest in what they do there – right now it’s enough to simply be fascinated by the birds, insects, and other animals we see there.

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  6. I really like the excerpts from Mason’s books – I’m going to have to pick them up! I love the idea of nature journals – it seems like such a good way to help teach some field skills. I think life with children constantly provides moments to teach, and it’s the gentlest moments – finding an injured animal and aiding in its rehabilitation, peeping at a baby bird nest… so sweet! – that provide some of the best moments to learn. I remember as a child rehabilitating so many animals and finding babies everywhere (we grew up on 2 rural acres, teeming with wildlife) and I took so much from it. I can’t wait to start some nature journals when Niko is old enough! Great job! I love your photos, too!

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  7. You have had some amazing wildlife adventures! I love that you all were able to help the squirrel and meet all the animals that were being cared for. And the pictures of the robins are incredible.I love the Charlotte Mason quotes as well. I’ve heard a lot about her but hadn’t read anything by her till now!

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