A year of learning through play. The woods are home to a number of snares and no less than three ‘hideouts’, all built in different shapes and sharing sticks, twigs, pine needles, grasses, and logs in common. One has a fire pit with a propped window to direct the smoke. Another has walls and a roof of cloth. These home building skills were put to use this summer when we built a cabin, now to be used as our schoolhouse. Little Man drilled in no less than 250 screws and assisted with the construction every step of he way, sawing rafters, handing out screws of different lengths, and climbing the posts, beams, and rafters to sit in his favorite spot: up on the roof: while taking a break. Much counting, adding, multiplying, and number work was applied.
A good month must have been spent frog and toad catching. The edges of the pond and creek have been stalked and frogs of different types, as well as tadpoles, were caught and examined for days on end. Toads were found under the cardboard pathways in the garden and compared with the frogs. Homes of rock were made for them in the garden. It’s amazing to witness the focus and concentration that surfaces during these activities. A box turtle was found and brought home, and watched closely for a day. He stayed in his shell all day long. A house was built for him in a cardboard box with grasses, rocks, and mosses. Berries were gathered to feed him with, and the next morning shouts of surprise when the turtle was found in a corner walking about, berries eaten up. He visited with us for a while, fully emerged and mobile for a few days before he was returned home to the woods where he was found.
Tenderfoot and Little Man have learned how to swim in the river, the frogs and tadpoles were their teachers. The other two splish and splash happily in the currents, learning the art of balance from the slippery rocks. Tenderfoot spends hours in the woods, singing, dancing, and coming back with hickory nuts, grasses, and tales of spirit folk that she communes with. Stormy has a keen eye for herbs and a great love of stories, so there have been many new tales told on wildcrafting walks. Yarrow has become her plant ally and she can be found in the garden often, munching on basil or dill while Little Bird picks flowers for the vase.
And in between the outside activity, hatching out chicks under a mama hen, beekeeping attempts, and mushroom hunting, we’ve managed to find the time to do a few lessons in books too. Tenderfoot and Little Man both enjoy illustrating stories, as well as form drawing, so we focused on those doing math as it comes about during the course of the day. Tenderfoot reads with great appetite,and writes lots of notes and facts out of them in her assorted journals. Little Man knows all his letters, and sounds out most words in books, asking what they say, even recognizing some later. He especially enjoys writing, and is very eager, as we all are, to begin learning in the schoolhouse that he helped build 🙂