In our homeschool we practice a Charlotte Mason philosophy of education. If you’re new to a Charlotte Mason philosophy you can read more here: what-is-a-charlotte-mason-education. Within this philosophy science is living, observed, and studied. It often happens naturally when we are outside on a nature walk or just outside exploring nature. However, for this living science beaver nature study, we had to plan and even be persistent.
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“Measure his education, not solely by his progress in the “three R’s,” but by the number of living and growing things he knows by look, name, and habitat.” (Charlotte Mason) Charlotte emphasized time out of doors and how this naturally introduced a living science to our developing children. If you consider all there is to observe in nature, you will begin to not only understand the beauty of her method but its full potential. Take a moment and think about how you were taught ecology or plant and animal life cycles. Mine was through a dry text book and repetitive worksheets. In contrast, in a living science children are outside in nature observing naturally occurring science. They are studying the environment, the conditions of the environment, the animals and their habitats, animal and plant life cycles, ecosystems, identifying animals, insects, reptiles, amphibians, and plants. The possibilities are nearly endless.
For this living science beaver nature study it took a little bit of planning, researching, and persistence. Which means I had to seek out our beavers. Honestly, I learned from our local zoo that Beavers are slightly nocturnal and are out all night, early morning, and dusk. Which meant that even though our local zoo has beavers, the likely hood of us seeing them during zoo hours wasn’t well, likely. This led me to inquiring at our local nature center that is located within a 1,000 acre county park. The park ranger was kind enough to provide me with a map and a hiking trail, marking an X for every spot along the trail that a Beaver lodge or Dam has been spotted. Our hiking trail has four Beaver Lodges and one dam.
We started mid February and hiked twice to the closest beaver dam, each time we saw an intact beaver dam. We never saw a beaver, I made sure to come close to dusk, hoping for a chance to see them. Finally, on the third hike out there we saw the beavers. Their dam is at the edge of a large pond, the water level had risen so high that it wiped out their dam and flooded the neighboring field. We arrived to find Mr. Beaver hard at work restoring his home. He quickly realized our presence and decided to blend into his environment, mimicking the appearance of a log in the water.
You can check out the short clip below to share with your kiddos.
Calendar Of Firsts
I brought all of our nature diaries (learn about nature diaries here: How To Get Started With A Charlotte Mason Nature Diary) but my oldest took this opportunity to use her calendar of firsts. If your unfamiliar with a calendar of firsts, you can read more here: A Calendar Of Firsts. My oldest put together that the beavers were inactive because of the winter. Since this was her “first” sighting of them, she wanted to paint the beaver emerging for the first time this year.
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Living Science highlights:
These are the living science highlights that she learned (and your child can too):
- Identified a beaver
- observed a beaver sitting on the shore
- observed a beaver habitat
- observed a destructed beaver dam
- observed a beaver rebuilding his home
- demonstrated a sense of sympathy by desiring to “help rebuild his home.”
- visually and kinetically processed a beaver observation by entering a watercolor painting in her calendar of firsts.
- identified the wide tail of a beaver
- articulated that the beavers tail made a “ker-flap” sound when it hit the water (learning through senses).
- Noted that the beaver was “warning” other beavers of our presence.
Living Science Book
Right now Alice Goudey is my favorite author for living science books. (unfamiliar with living books? read more here:What is a living book?) She has a whole series of books on different animals. Here Comes The Beavers is the life cycle of the beavers conveyed in a sweet little story. Alice brings personality to the beavers, portraying the characteristics and habits of the beavers in endearing terms and names like “little paddle tail” which draws my children into the story. Here comes the beavers follows the life of a beaver family all while delightfully teaching these living science points:
- Beaver habitat
- What Beavers eat
- What baby beavers eat
- Beaver reproduction (without too much detail)
- Beaver’s environment
- Detailed description of how beavers build their dam
- What threatens a beaver (predators)
- What Beavers use their wide tail for
- How beavers are “friendly”
- What beavers use their teeth for
- the habits of beavers during different seasons
If you would like to purchase a living science book on beavers, you can do so here:Here Come the Beavers.
As my children’s mother, this experience has been heart warming to say the least. While both of my children observed a beaver in his natural habitat and benefited from a living science. Together, as a family, we persisted until we saw the actual beavers. I love that life lessons occur in these instance and can passively teach our children virtuous character qualities such as persistence.
What do nature studies look like in your homeschool?
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