We have had such a giant few weeks here. I had a birthday, very quickly followed by Easter, then Miss 11 months became Miss 1, and Miss 2 turned 3. We have also had a visit with the girls cousin from Sydney. With so much going on in the way of birthday parties, Husband being home, and a little road trip down south with my niece, we have not really done a whole lot in the way of “formal” schooling. There has still been plenty of natural learning happening, though.
We read Charlottes Web over the last few weeks. Being as busy as we were, it took us a little longer to finish than usual. Miss 5.5 particularly liked this book. She is a bit of a country girl at heart, and thoroughly enjoyed reading about the farm, and the animals. Fortuitously, as we started to read the story, a beautiful Orb Weaver appeared in our garden. Of course the spider was christened Charlotte, and our bedtime routine quickly included going out into the garden to see where Charlotte was building her web for the night, and to see if she had caught her dinner. The girls were able to get nice and close, and Miss 5.5 decided she wanted to learn more about spiders.
We spent around 30 minutes watching documentaries on you tube about spiders. Miss 5.5 learned the difference between an arachnid and an insect, as well as how they use their spinnerets and legs to build their webs. She was amazed to learn that spiders spin different types of silk, one type is strong and tough and is used as structural supports for the web. The other is fine and sticky and is used to trap prey. After watching the documentaries, Miss 5.5 – with the help of Miss 3 – asked for a ball of yarn, and used it to build her own “web” on the climbing frame. To anyone not really paying attention it looked like a giant mess of yarn, but she had actually put quite a lot of time and thought into where she was going to wrap her web, and how many times it would be wrapped in certain places or ways. There was some definite thought put into the structure of the web, and by the time she had finished, she could climb into the top of the frame and the “web” would hold her body weight. I was thoroughly impressed 🙂
On the back of finishing the book, I took the girls to Landsdale Farm School, where they could get up close and personal to some of the animals we had just been reading about. Miss 5.5 spent a bit of time looking at the pigs in the pigpen, they were quite a bit different to the cute, pink, piglet type pig she had been imagining 😉 The girls were able to pet nearly all of the animals at the farm, as well as feed a couple of goats and enjoy a ride on the farms tractor-train. It was a really fun way to round out our reading.
One discussion that we’ve been having, that has been brought on by reading Charlottes Web, is the one about where our food comes from. The girls and I have a small veggie patch, and they know that their fruit and vegetables come from plants or vines or are dug out of the ground. But until recently they have never really questioned where their meat comes from, and I have not brought it up, leaving it up to them to question when they’re ready. Charlottes Web describes in some detail how the spider catches, kills and eats her prey. And of course the entire plot of the story is based on the premise that Wilbur, a spring pig, will be slaughtered for the dinner table when the cold weather comes. Miss 5.5 knows what a carnivore is, and has done since she was 3, in a text book kind of way. After reading this book however, I think Miss 5.5 has actually realised what being a carnivore means in a practical sense. We have talked about the food chain, how every living thing relies on every other living thing for something, and how the meat that is on our plates at dinner time comes from an animal. Now it is not unusual for Miss 5.5 to ask me what she’s eating for dinner – meaning what animal – and even what part of that animal. I think it’s a healthy conversation to have with her. I don’t want her thinking that her food comes to her perfectly clean and prepared and in a little plastic wrapper, fresh from Coles. I want her to know about farming and food and how vital it is to us. I want her to have enough compassion for the animals that she will care about how her meat is farmed and processed, and I want her to understand how meat benefits her body and her health.
We plan on having another few days away from “formal” lessons, as it’s widely agreed here that we need some time to rest and regroup after our huge month. In the meantime we have lots of outdoor play to focus on, a kite to fly, a couple of new books to read, and Miss 5.5 has asked to add space to her lessons 😀 There is also Musical Theatre classes, Sports class with other homeschool children and play dates galore. Term 2 is going to be a good one!