Sunday, July 11, 2010

Education Everywhere!

The past few days, my kids, hubby and I accompanied my mom and step-dad to a place called Slave Lake. While my mom and step-dad stayed in a hotel, my kids, hubby and I decided to camp there with our dog--first real camping trip for her! She's a rather excitable sort of dog (part Pointer, Lab and Australian Shepherd, among other things), so it kept us on our toes for using Cesar Millan techniques to try to keep her excited level as low as we could--especially when squirrels would make their appearance. ;)

The campground we stayed at, in addition to having some spiders that required a looking up in Bugs of Alberta, happened to be having one evening a little show on weasels. Well, ds has a thing for wolverines and having picked up Mammals of Alberta not long ago--which he immediately went through animal-by-animal, reading in-depth the ones he wanted to know more about--he really wanted to go see the show because wolverines are in the weasel family. He and I went and while it was a little babyish, there were some interesting things shared about different kinds of weasels found in the area and we both learned some things. Afterwards, naturally, he had to sit down with Mammals of Alberta again (thank goodness I brought the books along!) and he saw some of the weasels mentioned in the show that he hadn't really paid attention to before. Those "planting of seeds" we so often are encouraged to do at the elementary level in Montessori were in full force!

Another seed planting at the show was the discussion of bears being carnivores. We had all believed that carnivores ONLY ate meat; turns out this isn't true. Goes to show that I have not made it very far in animal classification with the kids, doesn't it? ;) Another seed planted that I could take advantage of to go a little deeper with this topic.

Just to bring up the books mentioned above, I don't know if such books are available for other regions, but I imagine so, and I highly recommend them as materials in your prepared environment. We have 4 such books: Birds of Alberta, Alberta Wayside Flowers and the two mentioned above. I will be checking out the publisher to see what other books they may have; I'd especially like one on trees or plants rather than just flowers. One thing I have to say, though, is that the things we see that we can't find in the books would make a wonderful project: keep your own bird/mammal/bug/etc. reference book. Of course, this is kind of like Charlotte Mason's nature notebook idea, but a little more focused so there is an additional reference available.

Dd found the longest, fattest earthworm we have ever seen.

He wasn't as outstretched as he could have been in the first photo and you can see in the second how he's bunched himself all up.

We also checked out some fancy cars and remote control cars and planes (there was some sort of car show going on), went on a very short walk in an area where there are bear warnings (NOBODY else was around, we had the dog with us and the deeper we got into the wilderness, the more ill-at-ease we were; it was an opportunity for the kids to learn that you ought to make noise when going through woods so that you don't surprise a bear--and to listen to your gut!), and found a little toy dinosaur we still have to identify.

A very busy trip! And very tiring. The poor dog is so tired out, she didn't even care about "supervising" us while we brought things in once we got back. She plopped herself on the ground at one point, then moved to a folded up blanket waiting to be put away and finally to her bed upstairs.

I'm guessing we won't see much of her tomorrow as she'll still need to sleep!

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