Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Passing Down a Way of Life with a Simple Garden Journal

This activity can be used to address the following Next Generation Science Standards 
K-ESS2-1.Use and share observations of local weather conditions to describe patterns over time
K-ESS2-2.Construct an argument supported by evidence for how plants and animals (including humans) can change the environment to meet their needs.

We had one next door neighbor when I was a girl.  Miss Evie was already somewhere in her seventies when we moved into our new home in the late nineteen eighties.  I was exactly seven.  She lived in the same home where she had grown up, where she had lived as a young married woman, and cared for her husband and parents as each had left this world.  

I used to get her mail on warm summer afternoons in hopes of being invited into the immaculate 1950's era kitchen she cooled by a cunning system of opening windows in the morning then shutting both windows and curtains as the day wore on.  I would sit bare foot on the red company chair by the door, and we would discuss the health of our cats and the progress of our gardens.  She would tell me stories handed down from her relatives who had lived through the Civil War or of her own experience living through the Great Depression.  Our whole family loved her dearly, and I think that in some ways we filled a spot her own children and grandchildren would have held, if she had had any.  That might be one reason she gave it to my dad.  She might have given it to him because of his love for growing things.

It was an old fashioned notebook filled with careful notes in a squarish antique hand.  Miss Evie's father had kept careful notes about his little farm for years.  He recorded where, when, and what grew , and how he tended it.  For my dad, who was now tending plants in the same location, it was treasury of helpful information.

This spring was our in our new home.  I wanted my children to keep journals based on our yard and garden, but was struggling to get them started.  Then I realized, they were not the ones who needed to keep a journal.  I was.   I grabbed a notebook and started filling it with notes .  I measured some plants, counted blossoms, and wrote down some temperatures and rainfalls.  Soon my kids were eager to join me, and they ask if we can do our. "Garden journal".

Our little journal is not all that amazing, or even organized.  It is a start though.  I hope my kids are learning the importance of paying attention to the natural world around them.   Not just as a fun summer project, but as a way of life. The systematic careful attention to how and why things grow that Miss Evie's dad practiced is a tradition I want to pass on to them.

Today, I am joining some other bloggers in hosting a Nature Observation blog hop.
Take a moment to look at the great ideas from my co-hosts!  As you look through the posts, I hope you can find a few methods that allow you to bring the richness of natural observation into your experience, and that of your children. 

July 2 update.  Now that I've had a chance to look at everyone's post, I'm even a bit more excited.  Check these out!

Suzy Homeschooler This is a must read, especially for those of you who are facing extreme weather like we experienced in the Middle East and in Arizona.

Homeschool Antics A great tutorial on how to turn backyard observation into a full fledged  nature study.

Houseful of Chaos  A lovely reflective approach, with a couple of interesting twists.

Study-at-Home Mama If studying nature is a little overwhelming to you, this post has the practical ideas you need.

Inspiring NH Kids Is showing us a great demonstration of a weather phenomenon we often, face.  I will be coming back to this!

My Blessings Homeschool Ideas for creek exploration.  My kids are going to enjoy this one!

Kid World Citizen A great list of fun hands on ideas.

There's also a multi- topic link-up.   I am looking forward to reading ideas you have for observing nature!

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I can't wait to hear what you have to say! Thanks for sharing.