Friday, August 8, 2008

Outdoor Hour Challenges-Too Specific?

I am responding to comments and personal email about why families seem to be having trouble accomplishing the most current challenges.

First, I guess I have not made it very clear but the overall focus is on insects, any insect. I have been challenging you to read in the Handbook of Nature Study about specific insects so when the opportunity arises, you will have had some background on particular insects. The Outdoor Hour Challenges were first started to help families learn how to use the Handbook of Nature Study and then take those ideas and apply them to what you have in your local area.

Some participants have not posted in the latest challenges because they are reporting that they don't have crickets at this time of year or it is too late at night to look for moths. I can see how that might make the particular insect in the challenge a difficult subject but the overall focus is on any insect. Even if you don't find an insect you should be still finding 10-15 minutes during the week to have some outside time with your children. It doesn't matter to me what you focus participant in the moth challenge decided to report on rabbits. I think that is awesome.

Second, the challenges are here for you to read and then do with as you wish. I would rather you spent the time outside and enjoyed your backyard, neighborhood, or local park and not worry about the challenge if they stumble you. Take a few minutes after your outdoor time to discuss things with your children. If they find a focus or an area of interest....fantastic. Do some research. Check the Handbook of Nature Study. Draw something if you feel like it. Whatever you decide to do, big or small, post about it and then link. It is the everyday, hum-drum nature study that we are aiming for. We want nature study to become such a part of your life that it just happens and you are not even scheduling it anymore.

After saying all that, I would love for you all to think about your nature study on a weekly basis. Nature study is the long-term life project that you are building up week by week. Don't give up on the challenges because you think you are not meeting the goal. The goal is always just to get outside and spend time together with your children. If you do that, you accomplished the goal.

Later on, if you find a moth or a butterfly or a cricket, remember the reading from the Handbook of Nature Study. Pull up the challenge and post another link if you make a blog entry about your special find.

We have three more weeks of insects. The subjects will be ladybugs/aphids, honeybees, and then lastly dragonflies/damselflies. I know that a lot of you will not have these particular insects in your local area but you can still read about them in the Handbook of Nature Study and spend a little time talking with your children about them. If you complete the reading and keep your eyes open, you just may find you see one of these insects. If not, you may in the future see one and then you will have already studied a little bit about these interesting insects.

After that, we will be at a crossroads. I would like to do a late summer study of sunflowers, think about planting flower bulbs that will bloom in the spring, start a fall notebook, and begin a focus area study on trees for the fall season. I am open to ideas if you want to leave a comment.

If you think it is too hard to be led through a focus area, I can go back to giving general nature study topics again. I see the value in having a focus at all times and still leaving yourself open to learn about things from other areas that come into your life. It has made such a difference in our nature study quality in our family.

Please leave a comment or email me if you have any thoughts or questions.

Barb-Harmony Art Mom

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