Patterns of Nature

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In the little school that I’ll be teaching in this year, they don’t use the word Science as a subject. Instead, they use Patterns of Nature. As a flip, instead of Social Studies – they use Patterns of People.  I really love these phrases. The school has an emphasis on a place based nature learning center – and then reaching out – comparing and contrasting our environment to the rest of the world.

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This year, we are in year two of  their three year cycle. The topics will be Oceanography, Geography, and Astronomy. We’ve been working on the ‘Big Ideas’ to focus on in those areas. I have a curious adventure filled group of 4th-6th graders. I poured countless hours into reading blogs, websites, and browsing Pinterest to see how others teach science to upper elementary students. What did I find? That most public school folks are creating ways to teach like a homeschooler. So on a bright sun shiney warm day, my dog and I sat out on the deck and divided up the year into months. (cause we are brilliant like that)

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Then I pulled my handy dandy Handbook of Nature Study and The Story of Science off the shelves. I went through and pulled all of the topics from Patterns of Nature for the year.

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It wasn’t too hard to create a path of 3-4 areas to observe from the Handbook of Nature Study. The Joy Hakin, The Story of Science filled in the gaps for the Astronomy easily.

We’ll start with a suggestion from Anna Botsford Comstock to find a tree in the yard to use to measure the shadow once a month. Here’s hoping that the first day of school will be bright and sunny! Each month we’ll use those measurements to work with our distance of the sun charts. Many of the ideas pulled out of the HBNS go perfectly with the seasonal months of the year.

For September we will look at :

  • Climate and Weather
  • Atmosphere, Wind, Storms and Weather Maps.
  • #220 Air Pressure
  • #221 Weight of Air
  • Height, Winds, Ocean Currents
  • #222 Weather Maps
    (Thermometer Barometer Needed)

We will change up the morning circle time of looking at a plastic calendar and pointing at the weather outside – to something a bit more digital. I’ll have the MagicSeaweed site up on the projector paired with the weather forecast. We’ll make note of the swell, wind, intervals, temperatures of water and air, sunset and rise/ twilight, tides, etc. I’m not sure how much we will write in our journals each morning, maybe even just track one topic per week. We’ll look at how many times the forecast matched up to what we experienced.  We should be able to look at the current maps in MagicSeaweed and watch how the storms in the Pacific bring in the larger swell with larger intervals to the central Oregon coast range.

My other subjects are all laid out on sticky notes, ready to move if needed. Many, like the Brook Study, are set for – “after the first big rain”. Sometimes that is September, most times October gives us our gully washer rain.

I’ve put away my crazy Pinterest seeking ways and have decided to go back to what I know. A Classical Charlotte Mason style of learning.  Now I’ve been searching Secular Charlotte Mason more, creating book lists, looking for craft ideas, and partnering with other likeminded teachers on Facebook. I pulled out the Childs Geography and History of the World books – A Child’s Geography? Anyway – sure enough, just the right lessons were there for US Geography and US History for this year’s themes. I can’t wait to snuggle up in our reading center and listen to stories!

So as you follow along – I’ll share how our group lessons are going, the same as I shared about the boys. The boys? Yes, they are both home. One working on his last credits at the community college, and strangely enough the last credits to get a public high school diploma still (he has his homeschool one). The younger is still a landscaping surfing learning fool at home. I’ve almost got his 10th grade year planned out and ready to go.

Joy in the journey to you!!!!

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