Thursday, December 19, 2013

Nature Crowns

With today's post, my hope is to illustrate just how simple learning from home can be. It doesn't take much preparation or planning in the early years to create meaningful learning opportunities. Not only that, but when a parent follows the child's cues and capitalizes on their interests, the learning becomes that much richer.

Today we made nature crowns. 

Early this morning, my daughter said she wanted to make some nature jewelry. After cleaning her room (a task that needlessly took ALL morning, but perhaps that's a post for another day), we went outside. With us, I brought a sheet to sit on, a single hole punch, a pair of safety scissors, a roll of masking tape, and some yarn. And my coffee, since I drink that stuff all day long.

Since my son was with us and I wanted to get him interested in this game, I suggested making crowns and they were both all for it. 

Task one: collect some leaves. Daniel ended up collecting all the brown ones that had already fallen. At first I discouraged this because I wasn't sure if they would hold up to a hole punch. But we discovered that they worked well and he went for it. Natalie stuck with mostly live, green leaves. 

Task two: punch some holes in those leaves. 

After I took this picture, I suggested punching two holes in each leaf so that they would lay flat on the crown.

They were both able to punch their own holes, which is excellent for developing fine motor skills.

This part also took some time to complete, requiring persistence and patience (several of the leaves tore during the punching process). 

Task three: string the leaves in the same way that you'd string beads. I wrapped one end of the yarn with a short piece of masking tape to prevent it from fraying. Then I tied one leaf onto the other end and gave each child their string.

Along with leaves, they each dug up one of our pesky ferns (those things are crazy hard to get rid of) in order to find the seed and I helped them tie the seed onto their crowns. 

Natalie also collected several small flowers to poke into the punched holes in her leaves. Daniel chose to poke in a little fern. I love how they were presented with the same project and came up with very different results. 

Daniel's kind of reminds me of Lord of the Flies. The fact that he took off his shirt really only adds to the whole image in me head. (On a side note, I cannot believe how warm it's been here lately. Yes, these pictures were actually taken today, December 19.)

Such a cutie!

And Natalie's was just so sweet with her greenery and yellow flowers.

Very fitting for a sweet girl.

After they finished with their crowns, they went off to play "king" and "queen" for a little while. It fills me with happiness to watch this kind of play go down...creating something and then using that creation in their pretend world. So, so good. 

How does this fit with a Charlotte Mason education? Not only was this activity a complete game for my youngsters, but while playing, they were observing and identifying nature. We found several different types of plants and named them, and we discovered which plants were hardier and which were more fragile. 

Not only that, but the kids were working on simple skills (hole punching and stringing leaves) which will lead to the development of more complex skills (and more involved handicrafts) as they grow.  

And they loved it. They had a lot of fun. That's not specifically Charlotte Mason, but I think we can all agree that when kids are having fun learning it's nothing but a good thing. 

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