An Insect Block in a Week

Drawing from last weeks lesson  . . . .  Little Spider’s First Web . . . .  I put together an insect block for Tenderfoot.  What I like about it is that it really connects us from the bottom, itty bittiest of beings, upward to ourselves eventually . . . . . demonstrates the connectivity of all things really well, in the way the insects function and serve not only themselves but the rest of the world too.  From the honeybee that pollinates the plants while it gathers for itself, to the fly that turns over the decomposing materials for the earth.  Loveliest of all is noticing how the bee and butterfly feed on purely liquid matter, like nectar, along with the hummingbird (ever notice how hopped up on sugar that hummer looks when its zipping about so fast on such tiny wings?) . . .. and even more interesting is how the honeybee can mix up the pollen with the  nectar to make honey, which allows it to overwinter in its hive, unlike the butterfly that  has to migrate.  Much food for thought, so when we look at our very long grasses and see the clover, plantain, yarrow, and other flowers covered with bees, we understand how come mowing gets done very seldom around here, as it is with the ‘dead’ sunflower stalks and everything else going to seed around the garden . . . .

We spent the first few days of the week looking for butterflies, ants, crickets, bees, flies, spiders, and following them about to see where they go, what they do, how many different types are there, where they can be found, and so on.  Lots of outside time observing, hunting, picking up, looking, and discussion.  All the children participated in this and it was fun.  Tenderfoot worked on entering each insect into her Main Lesson Book over the week, illustrating and writing some basic information about each one.  The block was partly intended for her to work slowly at drawing and writing about a subject, more than anything else, as she’s usually in quite a rush to finish her work and these pages really ask for you to slow way down in order to get them done.  Sort of like a foundation building idea, with insects as the theme flowing out of last week and what we have all around us, after all the foundation has to be practiced/built on something right?  It took her a while to get into a slow flow, but she kept at it, surprising herself by what she can accomplish when working painstakingly at anything!  And in the evening around the dinner table there have been some further discussions about what we’re noticing about the insect world . . .  did you know a spider is not an insect?  We were joined by crickets and grasshoppers at the table, Little Bird is great friends with them and they are brought in and taken out quite often, clinging to her fingertips with sticky feet.

As for Little Man, drawing on what’s around us again, I told him the story of Hummingbird and Heron, which resonated with us all since we’ve seen the heron’s gobble up the koi we stocked the pond with . . .  they left a few.  The story was what we worked through during the week, including writing words and sentences beginning with H (not exclusively H though), painting the story, acting out the story, telling another heron story and dramatizing it (this one was fun to portray, as the heron can be very proud and strutting, and you can add more fish than perch in different styles and sizes . . .  we had minnows, spotted trout, bass, rainbow trout . . .  basically what’s in the rivers around here), doing some form drawing with wool on felt, and ending by illustrating and writing a brief version in his Main Lesson Book.

Stormy and Little Bird have fallen into a rhythm of coloring, painting, swinging, playing games outside, needle felting, and doing their own “writing”.  Our days have stretched to 10 – 2:30, and we have our lunch at the schoolhouse.  We came up with a letter game that everyone plays in the afternoons, on rainy days this past week:  first we wrote all the letters in Capitals on individual pieces of paper, taping them to the ground.  Then each player draws an alphabet card from a deck (we use our pack of Quiddler cards but you could make your own) and goes to find it on the path . . . it’s fun to walk the path even if you know where the letters are . . . . once there the players stand on the letter and say as many words as they can think of with that letter, even doing the person behind or infront of them’s letter . . .  . it’s a fun game and some surprising words come flying out 🙂  Stormy and Little Bird don’t now their letters yet, though Stormy can copy them and knows how they function in a book: making words to tell a story for instance, so she really enjoys hearing their sound and thinking of words with that sound, A . ..  Anne, ant, apple, etc. and Little Bird digs the motions involved in hunting for the match.

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