Spring has arrived in upstate New York. Beautiful temperatures and only one day of rain, so we took most of our learning outside.
Maybe it doesn't count as "learning", but the little boys are a lot happier that they can spend most of the day outside!
Farmerboy did a lot of practical work this week. He informed his father that he wanted to practice driving nails, so Andy gave him a hammer and told him to pound all the loose nails popping up in the deck. (Katydid joined him.) He also helped Andy weed flower beds and edge one of them with a bunch of big rocks.
Rocks and fossils, in fact, have made a comeback in terms of interest -- largely because Farmerboy decided that he needed a stone wall to hide behind when he and Gareth play war.
Katydid was taken with the idea of a stone wall, too, so she helped.
They cleaned the rocks out of the asparagus bed. (Completely off the subject here, but my asparagus is dying and I don't know why. Even though we are moving away, this bugs me.)
After they got to a certain point on the wall, Katydid decided she wanted to build her own house, so she went up on top of the field and raided the rubble pile the former owners built to block snowmobiles from coming across their (our) land. This pile is full of bricks, which she used to build the foundation of a little house. When told of this project, I said, "Oh, like Roxaboxen."
Then they decided to build a village.
Except that took too long (apparently). And Farmerboy wasn't satisfied with the state of his stone wall, which wasn't very stable due to the irregularities of the rocks they'd use. He and Katydid decided to use some more of the bricks they'd found in the woods instead of rocks.
(The sticks set in the slits in the wall are guns, I think. This wall is meant to be defensive.)
The current problem (as told me by Farmerboy) is that the wall is too low, so I'm curious to see how much interest Farmerboy will have in working on that problem this week.
Why do I consider stone wall-building "school" for my 1st grader? Well... in addition to providing experience in team work, perseverance, problem solving, and spatial skills... I think of something that Maria Montessori said. I'll have to paraphrase since I don't have the quote right in front of me, but the general idea is this: "Why do we call it 'work' when we see a man building a brick wall, but 'play' when it is a little man building a wall with tiny bricks?"
In moving all those rocks, Farmerboy revived his interest in fossils as well. He got out his rock hammer and safety goggles and spent a few afternoons in the garden, breaking up rocks.
We also read a few rock-related picture books:
- The Pebble in my Pocket: A History of Our Earth
- The Big Rock (Aladdin Picture Books)
- How to Dig a Hole to the Other Side of the World
And we talked about erosion. Often. Farmerboy kept encountering odd holes in rocks and making theories about what caused them. (Maybe water. Or maybe sea worms.)
I picked up a few stone wall-related books to use next week (mostly on the basis of those Publisher's Weekly blurbs on amazon):
The little boys sometimes helped with the stone wall, but they were mostly more interested in collecting tent caterpillars and stag beetles and observing all the ants underneath the rocks Katydid and Farmerboy flipped over and climbing trees.
And also building "huts".
But birds remained somewhat interesting to the rest of the boys, mostly because...
We have baby birds! The chickadee's eggs hatched.
And the elusive Baltimore Oriole ran Katydid a merry chase trying to get a picture.
She did finally confirm a sighting, though.
But she forgot the camera (and her binoculars) when she and Andy went on the annual Early Morning Bird Walk at the arboretum. When they came home, they immediately downloaded iBird, which one of the other birders on the walk had apparently demonstrated. Katydid has been fooling around with it all weekend.
Where was Gareth during all of this?
Reading Sword of Clontarf mostly. But he did spend quite a while with his new Ancient Greek textbooks on Friday afternoon, as soon as they arrived. He couldn't wait until next school year.
We finished up the week with a May Procession at the Little Sisters of the Poor, where Katydid was made an official Marian Aide volunteer. I have pictures... I think... but since the camera is still out in the car, it will have to be a separate post. Katydid was very happy to receive her apron and T-shirt, and the boys were glad to get refreshments. The nuns forced them to cake, brownies, AND ice cream, so a good time was had by all.