As I mentioned in an earlier post, I wanted to try to show our 'new' nature area. We've collected gobs of rocks, leaves, seashells, sand, flowers, feathers and other assorted sundries throughout the years. We've cherished some, thrown some out when they get too brittle or too many, but mainly we've stored some away in baskets or boxes or stuffed in the back of a closet or shelf. Forgotten. Not easy for gazing on and wondering.
For years, I've had romantic notions of making nature study a part of our regular school day or week. But somehow, it was rarely accomplished. My ideas of frolicking in the grass, searching for bugs, sketching what we see, stopping to smell the roses happened only once in awhile when we'd make a point to drive to a nearby park. And that certainly did not occur weekly. Not even monthly. It wasn't for a lack of ideas. I had (and have) plenty of ideas swarming in my head like a good & busy hive has buzzing bees. Unlike the bees however, my dilemma was simply a lack of time. Or a lack of making time. Do you ever feel that way?
Partially I think my lack of regular nature study was a combination of my uneasiness over spur of the moment activities (you want me to leave the house now, today, without forewarning?), my occasional perfectionist tendencies (we don't have that particular shade of green watercolor, and I won't be able to get to the craft store until next week, so therefore no nature study today, kids), and quite frankly, my thought that...well, we needed to do all the academics first and then do nature study (or art or music for that matter).
Of course, the end of the day would arrive, and I'd be tired, my kids would be cranky or hungry, need a nap or want to play outside with their friends, we'd have errands to run, doctor's visits to attend or co-op classes for which to prepare...
So to make an already super long story short I've finally decided to take a more deliberate effort in incorporating a weekly nature study. I suppose saying that brings a sense of accountability, which in my case is a good motivator. Rather than look back with regret, I want to look forward with new eyes and with a field guide in hand!
A nature area is perfect for all those lovely rocks and shells and leaves and sticks and occasional dead bugs that my kids (and I) bring home. During the past few months I've seen so many great ideas for nature tables or nature shelves. Very inspiring! But rather than go out and purchase all things new, I wanted to try to stay within the Flour Sack mentality and make a nature area with things I already owned or could easily collect with little or no money spent save a few essentials...
Please keep in mind that my children now are all above the age of 10. So if I had shown you a nature area in our house when my children were younger, I'm sure the arrangement would look very different. I'm not sure what direction this nature table will take or if it will eventually end up as another surface to dump things, but it can't hurt to try. I'm thinking that we'll rotate with the seasons or with a particular area of study. The younger boys are starting a bird unit, and all of us are taking part using some of Barbara's new excellent nature study ideas.
So I moved our library basket to another part of the house, and here is our 'newish' nature area (so far) squeezed into a tiny corner of what used to be the dining room. I'm happy to say that the microscope has already seen some action!
~a $5.00 table found at a tag sale about 8+ years ago (and collecting dust & cobwebs in our garage)
~ repurposed basket & wooden dish for nature goodies
~ a stereoscope (okay, $$ item but we've had for many many years; it was hidden inconveniently away in its box in a closet)
~ a box to hold our pushpins and thumbtacks (decorated by my brother with homemade rubber stamp designs & given to me I can't remember when)
~ a moon phase poster (which I've had since the beginning of 2011...bought here)
~ posters (which I bought from here over 6 months ago & which have been rolled up waiting to be framed...I'll probably never get around to framing them so up they went with pushpins in the wall!)
~ lots of field guides from years' past
~ a tiny white vase from Ikea that I bought a few years prior
~ purchased specifically for the table: additional field guides & 2 smallish corkboards (Ikea!)
If you have a nature table, shelf or area in your house, what do you like to display on it?