Is it possible to be a dedicated homeschooling mom while still making time for myself as an individual (a girlie girl who likes cute shoes)? I like to think so. Follow along, and I'll let you know for sure.

Trust me . . . it's not ALL about the shoes.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Every Day is Earth Day

Every day is Earth Day - at least that's what we strive for here at home. We recycle, bring our own canvas bags to the store, carry our SIGGs, Foogos and Tiffins, use compact flourescent light bulbs and even cloth diapered when the kids were little. My kids know to turn off the water while washing their hands or brushing their teeth, although I admit that I still like long showers. Many times I've gotten lazy and gone to toss a plastic cup after a Starbuck's iced tea - only to have it snatched out of my hand by Noah with a little lecture on why we should take it home and recycle it instead. And that's when I know that we've done something right. All the little changes we struggled to make are simply a lifestyle for him, and I feel like that's the best thing we've ever done for the Earth.

So this month I was struggling with a potential shift in our homeschooling approach based of some feedback from a friend who is a homeschool consultant/evaluator. Was I doing too much structured sit-down classroom time with Noah (squeezed in among all our co-ops and field trips)? Why not start with our outside activities and build onto that at home? She encouraged me to focus on his interests and explore unit studies. So, I figured that our "off month" of April was a good time to give it a try.

Based on Noah's new-found passion for gardening and our commitment to the environment, turning April into Earth Month seemed like the ideal place to start. Without ever putting together a formal unit or structured activities, we've had quite a relaxing, enjoyable and educational month. Here's a snapshot of what we've done:

  • Gardening, Part 1 - It all started with the hope of keeping the kids' new best friends - Fava Bean, Basil and Jasmine - alive for a respectable amount of time. We found appropriate pots, replanted them and have been experimenting with water/sun requirements.
  • Gardening, Part 2 - Encouraged by the fact that I kept the first three alive for a week - and spurred on by Noah's quest to bring home every plant he saw - I pulled out my Earth Boxes and hit the farmer's market for starts. On Easter Sunday, we planted tomatoes, eggplant, arugula, canteloupe, peppers, sage, parsley, sage and oregano. Two weeks later, all the plants except one (the pepper) are thriving, and we have seven green tomatoes growing bigger every day.
  • Nursery Field Trip - What a happy coincidence that our homeschool group had a trip scheduled to an organic nursery this month. We took a tour of the facility and saw a great variety of both landscape and vegetable plants. Noah got their recommendation for a natural way to keep bugs off his fava bean plant, and when the kids each got to pick a plant to bring home, they choose marigolds to keep the bugs at bay.
  • Farmer's Markets - We hit the Winter Park, Lake Mary and Victoria Park farmer's markets, and I was thrilled to finally see local produce and plants! We are planning to check out the DeLand market this week; I actually found a vendor at the Celebration market in March who sells a large variety of local, organic produce - jackpot! Celebration is too far to travel on a regular basis, but they come to DeLand on Wednesdays as well. A very nice vendor at the VP market gave Noah a coleus and Ava a tomato plant, so these were nice additions to our garden.
  • Earth Day Picnic - If there's a free plant to be had, my son will be first in line. So when I heard the City of Winter Park was organizing and Earth Day event and giving away free trees, I marked my calendar right away. Some good friends put together an Earth Day picnic and park cleanup during the event, and it was a wonderful day. The kids picked a tree to plant, learned how the city maintains its trees and helped with a tree planting ceremony at the park. They both got harnessed up to climb a tree and even took a ride in the "bucket" of an aerial truck. That's my little Ava 55 feet in the air in the picture at the top of this post.
  • EPCOT Flower & Garden Festival - We checked out the amazing topiaries and wandered through the butterfly garden, but mostly, Noah wanted to check out the recycling station at Innoventions. We typically come once a month for our geography study, but I'm planning to add another trip each month just for science.
  • Composting - I've felt immense guilt lately about not composting. Once, I even got as far as getting a countertop container for scraps, but since I had nowhere to put them, they just rotted in the container and I had to throw the whole thing away. I've been wanting a tumbler but not been wanting to shell out the $400 they seem to cost, so I found instructions online so that Jim and Noah can build one. They're waiting on the last of the supplies to arrive, and we're planning a trip to the library to learn what do to once we have it!
  • Recycling - Recently, we started collecting our Styrofoam in the garage now that there's a Styrofoam recycling drop at the zoo. Jim keeps nagging us to get it out of the garage (it's really piled up), so we'll head up there with it this week. We also visited the recycling center with our homeschool group last month; I had recently learned that the County had changed it's recycling guidelines (for the better) so we toured the facility and got to ask all our questions. Since we hadn't know about the changes, we figured that our neighbors might not either, so we distributed flyers throughout the community to let others know about both the improved County program and the Styrofoam collection at the zoo.
  • Earth Art - The kids made 3-D, hanging Earth decorations at My Art Studio this month. They glued on green and blue feathers, glitter, sand and plaster to represent the land and water portions of their "globes".
Hmmm . . . what else? I guess that's it. Like I said, not much in the way of curriculum or sit-down activities, but all-in-all a very educational month. I can see now that I should probably pull out some of our favorites on recycling and plants from our personal library, too. Overall, I loved the cohesiveness of our learning this month but still feel like I'll need at least a little more structure for the future. Can't decide if I really do, or it's just my compulsive need to check things off a list.

No comments:

Post a Comment