An Interest-Led Nature Study

Sometimes technology serves our natural learning process nicely. On a perfect summer day, we spent a full afternoon in a relaxed interest led study of our nature pal exchange , and I’d like to share!imageI made a Pinterest board of nature photos of Hawaii in the area of our naturepal family. I laid out all of the nature bits sent to us, with a relatable book, pencils, magnifying glass, and journal.imageBased on questions they had about the nature book our pals made,  we watched a Youtube video of making Poi, from Kalo.image

imageOur nature pal gave us a gorgeous Ku Kui necklace. We wanted to know what a ku kui nut was and how to make a necklace, we searched far and wide on Youtube and Pinterest.imageThe girls favorite thing to do was open the bottle of Hawaiian salt and taste it (which I was reluctant to at first for some reason, but you gotta keep it breezy (link) and I’m so glad I did). We talked about the taste and continued tasting as we watched a video of the Hawaiian salt factory that makes this specific kind of salt, found only on the island our nature pals live on. imageWe used our Pinterest photos to identify which parts of Hawaii our sea glass was probably from (again their doing not mine)!imageWe watched a tutorial video our nature pal sent us on how to make music with the river rocks they gave  us. imageWe spent a lot of time feeling the soft sand sample, dropping shells into it, shaking it up to see how it mixed.imageBased on a photo from our Pinterest board we imagined baby sea turtles popping their hard out of the sand. This was a particular fascination with the girls.

We looked at the book that I set out. We talked about what constitutes and island, observed the map, and Fin made a map of her own.  imageThe girls rounded out the study with imaginative play adding critters to the beach sene.imageFor our next session I added a bucket of water and critters to let them go wild with imaginative play. I held them off from dumping the sand and shells, to preserve it for closer study. But now it’s time to let them explore on their own terms. Through play! image

And that’s that!

For more on Inquiry-led learning click here!

May we do all things to connect with and learn from each other ✨

How does “Inquiry led” work?

Many educational philosophers, like Charlotte Mason or Reggio’s Loris Malaguzzi, agree that Inquiry led learning is best!image“Stand aside for a while and leave room for learning, observe carefully what children do, and then, if you have understand well, perhaps teaching will be different from before.” Loris Malaguzzi
The term is thrown around a lot in the homeschool world. What does it mean? How do you do it? Is it that we leave children to their own devices? Hoping something wonderful will arise? I think not. imageHow can we “put them in the way of things to observe while still being “inquiry led”?imageHere’s what I find to be the best way to have authentic inquiry led experiences.

Environment:
The environment of your home should invite the child to initiate their own ideas. Art supplies, building materials, nature bits etc. should be in a place open to their disposal. image(Our homeschool room: a nature pal exchange project we studied for weeks on our dining room table)image(Instead of toys we have invitations to play supported with related books! These shelves revolve every week or every 2 weeks!)

Some children like low tables that offer the the opportunity to iniate/direct their own projects. Whether art, construction, or nature study, their workspace should be accessible- giving them full permission to explore.image(Fin decided to paint barn animals and pulled out her materials)image(A self-led art project, I just provided support when asked)image(Our moveable art-cart fully assessable to them)

Display their finished and unfinished work (preferably in a low place at their eye level) This reminds them of projects they want to revise and adapt, and it shows them their work is important. image(A display of finished and unfinished beetle and dinosaur work in our art studio)image(Our ever-growing cicada collection on display. Many musings and questions arise!)

Add relevant books, maps, brochures to their work spaces. They can seek their own questions and answers.image(Our nature table with supportive books)image(The girls decided the type of cactus we were painting for our nature pal was a prickly pear, thanks to our supportive books)image(A book or cityscapes to support our drawing, building, making of an animal city)

Carve out time: to be in and near their workspace. Life can still be inquiry led with set project time. This is a time where screens are put away, and mom/teacher is there to offer assistance to the child’s ideas.
image(Our project time is normally after our morning basket when we are fresh each day)
For more on environment check out 30 days to transform your play!

Lay a Feast:
The first way I lay a feast of ideas each and everyday is through stories. We begin our day in the reading nest. We read good books, and the children have a pocket full of ideas to start their day. image“Give your child a single valuable idea, and you have done more for his education than if you had laid upon his mind the burden of bushels of information.” Charlotte Mason
Lay out art, sensory, nature, storytelling, etc. provocations! I typically set out one or 2 a day. image

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image*This is an ongoing beetle investigation that sparked from our love of The Beetle Book by Steve Jenkins. The interest has been over the entire year, we loop back to the book every so often since it’s in our reading nest. We’ve made our own laminated, illustrated, and authored beetle book. We’ve made and painted clay beetles. We’ve revised and added to our beetle book when new information comes our way: like dung beetles we found in an elephant book. The girls identify types of beetles in Jan Brett books, and love to find them in real life. It’s been a lovely inquiry.(For provocation ideas click around other places here and check out twoodaloo).

Let it go! Where ever they want.

This was an epic potion making session in the mud kitchen. Vinegar, baking soda, cornstarch, glitter and more! Outside is a great place to let loose and LET THEM PLAY! You wont regret it. The hose is our friend.
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imageThis can be hard, and even takes practice. But we are here to offer books, questions, and guidance for their ideas, not to impart our own. Most of the time the girls do something completely contrary to the intention I set out. And it’s always awesome. Their ideas go much deeper than mine. And when an idea is their own, they pursue it intensely (much more so than if they are pursuing my idea to please me.) image
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image*Fin was suddenly interested in letters when she found a small brochure in our wax crayon box. She wanted badly to make her own “map”, as she called it. She picked out her materials, I printed a sheet of letters and she got to work. The interest continues often. When we come home from trips we bring maps and brochures with us. Here is a map of Canada she insisted on drawing! Can you see the long bridge, small grid-like streets of downtown, island shape, and compass? I laid  out invitations and extended the interest by bringing home maps, but do you think she would work as passionately if I sat her down for a letter worksheet or geography lecture?

What children dig for becomes his own possession.” Charlotte Mason

Answer questions with questions: “I don’t know, what do you think?” “Hmm, Where do you think we could find out?” The thought process matters much more than correct answersimage
image*Fin continues to revise her airplane, asking for assistance and for ways to solve her problems. She could solve most of them on her own with a little questioning of my own (like hmm, that doesn’t work what if we try?) She takes on the role of an engineer, asking and answering the hard questions of how to make her structure sound. I offered pen and paper to document her work. She wasn’t interested in that so I sat down next to her and drew my own to show her how important I thought her work was. She sat down next to me and decided to draw her own.

Leave your feast out: rearrange and add to it to spark new interest. Sit down and explore yourself, see if they join you. imageBe Breezy: This is a hard one. But our children know when we are forceful, even under the surface. Truly let your littles explore the materials how they decide. Relax and let it get a little messy.image*Fin made her own gift for a friend. A tiger! She picked out all of her materials and executed it with little assistance. If I had taken control it might look more like a tiger, but what would that accomplish? A finer finished project is not valuable in comparison to the important self-initiated, self-regulated work of a growing/capable girl.

Try again! Not all the provocations I set out spark an interest. Either rearrange it for the next day or try a new one! The point is to offer. And HAVE FUN!

May we do all things in to connect with and learn from each other ✨

Rags to Riches

Don’t you love “rags to riches” stories?  Our daily life is full of them. It’s so rewarding to take mundane or even broken things and experiences and turn them into something useful/ beautiful.  The most recent  opportunity was a broken Ikea frame. It was brand new. I was rather disappointed. It was to hang a special gift from my husband: A Moon Rise Kingdom inspired print and Ikea is 40 MINUTES AWAY! Instead of throwing it out I had a better idea!

Art is pretty important in our home  and I am on a mission to make the girl’s work a prominent fixture in our home. 

the humming room open ended early childhood education art

So I decided to lay out the cardboard backing in our art space and see what happened!The project was on going for about 4 days (we like to have working projects where we can add as we feel inspired). The girls first used tempera paint dumping, splattering, and spreading. Next they added water colors with pipettes.

DSCF1502In one session the crayons were coated in paint. While they were napping I soaked the crayons in warm water and all of the paper fell off of them. Instead of throwing the papers away I offered them as a material in our next art session. Fin requested the glitter glue.

the humming room reggio open ended art for homeschool preschool

the humming room reggio open ended homeschool preschool art

Our “finished products” always look something like this. It’s beautiful to me.  

the humming room reggio sensory art early childhood education

After cleaning away the clutter we discovered an exquisite mixed media piece. One that, if the original glass was in place, would have veiled its magnificence

the humming room reggio abstract preschool art display

This piece hangs as a permanent fixture in our main living space. Aren’t rags to riches beautiful!  Our family looks upon it with great joy. I look forward to strengthening this tradition in our family. May we always find the beauty in the broken. 

May we do all things to connect with and learn from each other ✨

Displaying work


I have gleaned many things from my good friend Stephanie who happens to be an amazing blogger/sharer of ideas. One precious tidbit of knowledge that I have gleaned from her is the importance of creating meaningful art with our children and displaying their work in the spaces of our home.the humming room reggio open ended art display making learning visable

Stephanie says, “Not only does it instill a sense of pride and let the children know we value their work, it also allows them to reflect and revisit their experiences and representations during an inquiry, which helps them to expand their ideas.”

the humming room reggio observational drawing display making learning visable

the humming room reggio resarch and plan work display making learning visableOne project in particular stuck out to me because it was a piece of art made by the children to display their work. Could it get any better??

Upon discovering the scrap wood I left for them the girls got excitedly to work!

the humming room reggio open ended art display making learning visable

As an aid, I set out an art book that we checked out from our local library. We must have used that book for five or six projects before finally returning it. I should have written the title down for future projects and to share with you but alas I did not.


the humming room reggio open ended art display making learning visable
Art gets pretty serious around here. The girls frequently sit on the table while doing it. I figure its the only way for them to really get on top of the project, gaining proper proximity and proportion for their little bodies in a large scale world.the humming room reggio open ended art display making learning visableWe took a day before and after nap for the crayon portion but when the girls found out the next step was watercolor they simply could not go on with just crayons.the humming room reggio open ended art display making learning visableThis portion took one sitting,of course, due to fervency.the humming room reggio open ended art display making learning visable

the humming room reggio open ended art display making learning visable

The girls helped me fasten photos of their work to our new masterpiece and since has been a treasured part of our home and schooling process.

the humming room reggio open ended art display making learning visableI love that it hangs over our Art table to remind us of our interests and inspire us to represent them!

the humming room reggio open ended art display making learning visable art room

We’d love to hear about your art space! Comment below!

May we do all things to connect with and learn from each other ✨