Friday, April 27, 2007

Nature Studies

I've been having a really good time with the kids lately. The weather has been nice, so we've been spending a lot of time outdoors, and I think I'm always a better mom when we're outside.

We took a walk to Norwood Pond the other day to look for tadpoles, but couldn't find any. Instead, we got to see Maddy's instincts at work as she jumped into the water to try to catch some geese that had swam over to us. Then later, when I invited her to jump onto a huge tree that had fallen across a nasty algae covered inlet, she jumped up onto the tree and then into the nastiest patch of algae. Gross. We did spend a lot of time looking closely at the water and examining the patches of grass and other green stuff that was starting to grow.

When we were sitting on our front steps the other day, we spent a good deal of time watching a few birds go in and out of our birdhouses up in the tree. We talked about what they might be doing, and when we came in, we tried to identify them online (we couldn't.. I need to dig up one of our old Audubon guides).

As I mentioned in my other blog, we've started working on our garden. Last weekend Colwyn helped me plant spinach and pea seeds into peat containers (I just love the idea of planting the containers directly into the soil, rather than pulling the baby seedlings out). We talked about how the little seeds will grow into food that we can eat, an idea which was made easier by the pea seeds which look like, well, peas. He's enjoyed watering them, though I have to supervise him closely since he tends to pour all the water into one container.

Colwyn also helps me with the compost, although he was rather distressed at first that we were putting our old food in there. I don't think he quite got that it was only food that was too old for us to eat, as he kept saying, "But no, Mommy, I love our food!" While I turn the compost, I show him the bits of food that are still decomposing, and the foods that haven't started yet, and the nice black compost that our old food and grass clippings and other stuff has turned into. We talked about how when all our food has turned into compost, we'll use it to feed our growing plants, and that then our plants will feed us. And what we don't eat will go right back into the compost bin.

We've talked about a few other odd things this week.. like yesterday, Colwyn asked me about the cracks in the pavement when we were outside. So he got a mini-lesson in how the ground contracts and expands in different weather, and how that causes the cracks. Then he gave me a mini-lesson in which machines the city will use to fix the cracks. :)

We went to the library the other day to pick up some gardening books that we had requested on interlibrary loan. It was a spur of the moment trip, so I hadn't looked up kids' books ahead of time, and thus my expectations were low. But we ended up finding a ton of good books, most notably Captain Flinn and the Pirate Dinosaurs, by Giles Andreae. Huge hit with Colwyn, and Lachlann even enjoys pointing out the dinosaurs ("Dorothy!" he calls them.. well, it's more like "Dorwy!") and roaring at the right moments. While we were there, the boys befriended a 6 or 7 year old girl and had fun building with blocks and then spinning around in the chairs. It was sweet to see them playing with an older kid, a kid who was actually really good with them. Kind of reaffirmed my belief that the boys will get to socialize with people of a wide variety of ages. They also talked to the older librarian about the elephants on display, too.

I've started introducing Colwyn to the idea of learning French. A few times in the past week, we've talked about how people in different parts of the world speak different languages (social studies!), that we speak English, that people in Mexico speak Spanish, that people who are deaf use sign language, that people who live in France speak French. I've demonstrated how we can talk about what Maddy is by using English ("Dog!") or ASL (patting our thigh). Then I told him that if we want to use French, we can say "chien." He repeated it willingly for me a few times, and also attempted "J'aime le chien." We're taking it slowly.. if something is very hard or new, he sometimes avoids it, so I don't want to push him.

I have pictures of Colwyn gardening, but they're still on my camera, so I'll have to post them later. That's all for now!

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