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Monday, January 28, 2013

Nature Study Monday {Identify that bug!}

One of our latest finds was a really big spider. While we don't try to ID every bug/spider/plant/what have you, that we find, every now and then (especially when someone asks about a blog post!), we do. Using our recently mounted specimen as an example, I'm going to walk you through what I learned about spider identification. You will probably already have figured out these simple steps on your own, or could have if you'd tried, when using the internet to ID one of your nature study finds. But, just in case you haven't ever done it, this is how to start.

step one:


This might include something as vague as bright green bug; though, i recommend you pick something a little more specific if you can, geographical area, size, anything you might guess about it... beetle, moth, etc. Depending on how specific/general you are, this *can* be a time consuming step. Don't worry, it'll get easier the more often you do it! :)

This time, I googled spider identification because frankly, I had no idea where to begin. I came up w/ the following super helpful sites with ID tips (and lots more less helpful sites besides)...

{If you own field guides, you can check THEM first. I usually do. But, for a long time, I didn't own the right ones and I certainly didn't know how to use them. That takes practice.}

step two:

Check your go-to sites for local identification. Wait, you don't have any go-to sites yet? Well, to start, google 'pacific northwest bug identification', or enter wherever you are. Bookmark the most helpful sites so you can go back there time and again. Local guides are probably going to be your best bet, apart from the really big famous sites. There will be links to info that will help you narrow down your search.

For example, I found:
Here's a non-comforting site I ran into. I became even more uncomfortable when I noticed that the very poisonous spider talked about there (made it into Guiness Book of World Records?), looks similar to mine very own dead one currently sitting on my dining room table for display. eek!

{If you have field guide books, pull those out if you haven't already! I really prefer the books, but have found that they are somewhat limited (especially when you live somewhere other than N.America). The good thing about the books though, is they are specific to your region, and usually walk you through the steps to identification and classification. I like that.}

step three:

Using the above steps you'll probably latch onto some leads in the direction you want to go. If not, you can check out some of the following sites that will ID the critter for you!

spiders: - check out their ID guide and then the forum. (spider page)
American Museum of Natural History - spider research
The World Spider Catalog


One thing I learned about identifying spiders that I never would have guessed is, they have eye patterns specific to their families. Which might seem normal to you, but certainly didn't occur to me. In our family, three have brown eyes, two greyish-green, one hazel and one blue, so this wasn't a no-brainer... I never would've guessed it was a deciding factor for spiders!

Another interesting tidbit is that most spiders found in North America are harmless; which is good to know if you live there. Of course, South America is NOT so tame.

Well, chances are some of you could probably teach me a thing or two about identifying insects and other invertebrates... please feel free to leave any helpful hints in the comments! ;)

This has been another Nature Study Monday, and is linked to January's NSM post, where you too can link to your nature study posts to share in the month of January. My goal is to post about our nature studies at least twice a month (1st & 3rd Mondays), but you can link up anytime to any of the NSM posts to share! Click here to see other posts.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

thoughts on self-education.

a self-education is an education that is…
not interest based; not 'self-ish' education, for example, caring to learn only that which is appealing.
not all-inclusive of self, to the exclusion of others. not 'self-y' education, learning only that which is useful to self.
not education of another's self, i.e., one self educating another self. not parents *educating* those little selves born unto them.*
"...external application is not capable of nourishing life or promoting growth.
life is sustained on that which is taken in by the organism, not by that which is applied from without."

the self & the process...
a child is a person. in the same indisputable way that every adult is a distinct person.
a person is made up of body (tangible) and mind (intangible... 'mind' is the term CM used, for the sake of working with the idea, she includes a person's spirit in this 'intangible' part)
the mind + the body makes up each person's very own self. this is the self we're concerned with in 'self-education.' each person responsible for his own self's education.
the mind needs food just like the body, and in the same way that we cannot make another body eat, even with violence, we cannot force feed another mind. either a body will eat, or it will not. either a mind will eat, or it will not.
mind food = ideas.
nourishment {idea} is gotten through many means. mainly, by many good books. still, ideas of invention & discovery may also be obtained through: studies in science, natural beauty, nature study, dance, art, etc. but those ideas necessary for 'life' (character & conduct) are obtained primarily through, literature, both written and 'oral literature'.
a body will eat something. it will eat what is available and it will eat what is good. which is why parents (teachers) must make the best food available in quantity and with variety, and limit the junk. and the same goes for mind food.
once food is taken in, we don't have to remind a body what to do with it. we don't have to tell the stomach to digest. and we don't have to tell a mind what to do with an interesting idea. it is taken in, appropriated and assimilated. on the other hand, we DO have to tell a mind what to do with tasteless or random material or lists of facts in bulk for memorization. it must take it in, and spit it out (tests!), hopefully never to have to be repeated. that's called forced feeding. and i don't know about you, but that has never gone over very well with my kids. that goes for food AND learning.

...when they have the idea {nourishment} to hang their facts {the less palatable stuff when given in isolation} on, many times the kids can't get enough. they want to know everything they can. they don't waste time memorizing lists, they skip straight on to the imagination, act it out, tell about it, ask questions, and they are perfectly delighted with what they know.
{twaddle would be like frosting... it tastes good and usually looks good, w/o an ounce of nutritional value.}

is the light beginning to dawn?
there is no education but self-education.

we know very little when we start, but we know where to find out more… "we must open books to children, the best books; our own concern is abundant provision and orderly serving."

children should not be dependent on teachers - because, in fact, a teacher can't make anyone learn - but on books. many good books. teachers are meant to be table setters. facilitators. guides. philosophers. mentors. friends.

children (and adults) will learn what they will learn themselves.

tools for self-education.
a person. (at any age who has taken to ideas. education 'officially' beginning around the age of six. though, usually long before that little self is partaking of the feast the world 'unofficially' sets before him.)
curiosity. (this is inborn and ever-present, unless previously put to death by boredom or some other social evil. can be resurrected with much patience on the part of the thoughtful educator.).
ideas. (not workbooks. not lists. not bare facts presented encyclopedia britannica style. ideas are presented in literary form through  
good books. (this is to education what good food is to nutrition.)
things. (birds, blocks, tools, wood, clay, flowers, etc., because a due relation with these is also fitting for him. and will also evoke new ideas.)
attention. (this happens automatically when learning something of interest, but as a practiced habit, it serves us well when the material isn't the very MOST fun thing available on the planet. encouraged by using the best books, allowing only one reading and by maintaining brevity of lessons.)
narration. (this is what pegs all those interesting ideas to the bulletin-board of the mind, and develops orderly, sequential thinking which later transfers, at least in part, to communication skills.)

the key to self-education. 
learning to know.
not for good grades. not to check off a list. not to please mom. or dad. or grandma.
but reading and doing and knowing because 'studies serve for delight'.

benefits of self-education.
delighted students.
delighted parents.

"Parents become interested in the schoolroom work, and find their children 'delightful companions.' Children show delight in books (other than storybooks) and manifest a genuine love of knowledge.." v6p29

"I should like to dwell on the enormous relief to teachers, a self-sacrificing and greatly over-burdened class; the difference is just that between driving a horse that is light and a horse that is heavy in hand; the former covers the ground of his own gay will and the driver goes merrily. The teacher who allows his scholars the freedom of the city of books is at liberty to be their guide, philosopher and friend; and is no longer the mere instrument of forcible intellectual feeding." v6p33

*as we know, self-education *can* potentially happen without a teacher. truly however, that doesn't make our position irrelevant or even less important. even though educators we are, and educate we must, here we're talking about the more important aspect that must be present for learning to take place, and that is: self-education. which of course, you have already realized if you have read this far... :)

helpful reminders:
don't forget that the CM blog carnival is coming up.
as it just so happens, the topic of the carnival is: self-education.
yeah, i know. good timing, huh? ;)

helpful links:
read the portion of CM's Series (volume 6, chapter one) that this post is based on here.
for this weekend only get a free audio (mp3) download of this section of Charlotte Mason's volume 6 of the Original Homeschooling Series (read by me!) right here.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Artist Study: Ruisdael

Jacob van Ruisdal.

Van Ruisdael lived from 1628-1682 and is often considered the greatest Dutch landscape painter. His father was a frame maker and artist, Isaak de Goyer, who later called himself Ruisdael. Jacob was the nephew of the noted painter Salomon Ruisdael, who also had a son named Jacob! I know, confusing, right? Well, it was a long time ago. In the book I read, the author spent a whole chapter on the whole family name thing. Seems  there is some doubt as to who painted all the paintings. One thing that adds to the mystery is, only some of the paintings attributed to our Ruisdael are actually signed by him. Either way, until we know more, we'll trust that the people who know, do in fact know what they're talking about, and we'll study the paintings as-is by Ruisdael... somebody or other.

But without a doubt, all the paintings are fabulous. Add to the interest for us, we've read this book (see link below), AND we have good friends from the Netherlands (also Holland, and there IS a difference)! who recently kindly sent us a package from there! I could say a lot about how we adored their yummy sweet stuff, but will refrain from speaking about the salty-licorice... ;)

View of Haarlem with Bleaching Grounds by Ruisdael.

A text describing bleaching grounds...

And just for fun, here's a map of old Haarlem before the war with the Spanish... with city walls, moat and bleaching grounds inside the city walls.

The picture below is comparable to Ruisdael's. 
I wonder if this is the same shown from the same vantage point he used!

helpful links: on Bleaching Grounds
wiki on Haarlem
Great Artist Series book, includes bio on Ruisdael.
Artist Study @ Fisher Academy
Artist Study: What we do

Monday, January 14, 2013

Nature Study Monday - Link up. {Mounting an Insect}

In just a few words, but with lots of pictures which are worth more, I'm gonna show you our latest nature study project. We did in fact find this inside our house, but that's nothing new. Thankfully, it was already dead. For one, we were spared the drama, and two, we got to mount him instead of smash him! ;)


 Feel free to link up your nature studies posted in the month of January. I'd love to see! Just leave your link in the comments, and snag a button if you'd like! :)

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Psst... you didn't forget did you?!

I have been somewhat negligent in sending out info & reminders, but we are still up and running with the...

Charlotte Mason Blog Carnival in 2013! 
The very first carnival of this year will be posted this upcoming Tuesday, so please submit your posts today. or tomorrow. or the next day until 5 o'clock. :) 
Simply send your links to charlottemasonblogs (at) gmail (dot) com!

See you again real soon! 

P.S. You can find all the nitty-gritty about the CM Blog Carnival schedules and links and all such similar stuff, at any time HERE. Of course, I haven't updated the page in a while, but will do so very, very soon! ;) Just as soon as my parents leave, and we get back into a somewhat normally irregular routine!! ;)
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