Before we ever began, when I pictured homeschooling in my mind, I imagined nature walks would be a regular occurrence for my little student body. I reasoned that such walks would naturally foster my littles’ ability to observe, classify, and hypothesize, as well as allow opportunity to dispense of some of their ample energy along the way.
Unfortunately, between living in suburbia and our neighborhood being new construction, there is little nature to walk through. Certainly, we can venture off to one of the many nearby parks, but it rarely happens. Getting in the car and going to the park takes much more planning and preparation than a spontaneous walk. Such walks also tend to be much less about what we can discover and much more about, “How much longer until we can go to the playground?”
Lucky for me (and my little students), nature came to us last week!
One of the other homeschooling mamas I know sent out an email early one morning. She and her daughter had noticed some interesting “strings” all over their neighborhood while they were out walking. She did a little research and discovered they were spider webs. As quickly as I could get everyone dressed, we were out the door for some of our own observing.
Sure enough, there were “strings” everywhere. On cars. On houses. On street lights. In the grass. On trees. Our whole neighborhood looked like it chose a spider theme in anticipation of halloween.
We walked the entire neighborhood and observed until their little hearts were content.
When we got home, we had a nice discussion about what we saw, what we thought it meant, and then covered some actual facts about how spiders travel. (We mainly used this site for the facts.) Finally, we colored some spider web coloring sheets I found online.
It was such a great morning! The lesson was so natural; it flowed so organically from their own curiosities. It was awesome! When I said something about the spider lesson in retrospect, Andy and Jack both responded with amazement that the spider activity was “school.” That’s exactly what I always wanted.
While I certainly find some value in structured book work, I believe that to foster a real love of learning, the organic flow we created last week has to be a regular occurrence. Simply reading the next page in the science book won’t cut it. Sure, they’re bound to stumble across something that genuinely interests them as they read any book, but, to me, it makes so much more sense to allow their genuine interest to be the starting point, rather than a happy coincidence along the way.
I’m so grateful for our little spider walk last week, and hope to offer many more opportunities to facilitate such an organic learning process for my little learners.