In school, we study using textbooks and software. On the farm, we work with our hands and many different tools. However, the best learning happens when we break away and just use what is around us and get really creative. Sometimes we combine this in some way with our more conventional lessons and sometimes we make it a learning experience all its own.
This past year, we had the opportunity to review Apologia’s Zoology 2 curriculum. At the very beginning of this text, the authors present information about currents. This was the perfect excuse to get out of the house and do some nature study of our own. The creekbed became our classroom and we got right in the middle of the creek and did an eyewitness account of the current and the effects of recent storms on the creekbeds. To read more about our experiences, you may want to read our review here.
Aside from nature study, we have also explored around the pastures for wonderful things that God created that could be incorporated into other school projects. Several years ago while studying Native American cultures, the kids gathered twigs, rocks, mosses, and turkey feathers to make this unique teepee as a hands on way of understanding how these structures were built. Our first thoughts were to cut down some trees and make a lifesize replica, but the cold weather got ahead of us.
At other times, the kids just love to run with projects utilizing all kinds of things that they find on the farm and recycling materials that are no longer being used for their original purpose. It is quite extraordinary to see what they are really capable of when we don’t put limits on them. Zech has a real love for water and a deep desire to someday go out on the ocean. He used some of his carpentry skills and creativity to make his own boat to sail on the creek with.
The boys also spent an afternoon gathering things that the previous owners had abandoned in the pastures, outbuildings, and some things that could be rounded up in the barn. It was time to build their own man-cave in a totally guy kind of way.
Even for a mama like myself who has a compulsion about having to finish out textbooks, there really is no learning that compares to get your hands dirty and your legs moving. There are so many ways to incorporate the elements of wherever you live into your school experience. These experiences help to really reveal just how God has wired your children. This brings us back around to using that information in picking out even better textbooks and curriculum to help them be all that He intended for them to be.