The brain bones connected to the paper bone?

This is my first post in The Living Page Discussion. But it's not the only one. Check out the rest
- Nature Notebooks and the Gallery of Forms
- Calendar of Firsts

Wildflowers and Marbles

I got my book in the mail! I'm only on the first chapter but it's already so good. I didn't even get through the preface before I had to stop and bombard Craig with all my thoughts on it. I'm sure I'll be talking more about it as I continue reading. I'm trying to force myself to take it slowly by only picking it up once I've read my Charlotte's Mason writings for the week (I'm participating in a forum discussion challenge of reading and discussing her whole series over 2 years).

One thing at any rate we know with certainty, that no teaching, no information becomes knowledge to any of us until the individual mind has acted upon it, translated it, transformed, absorbed it, to reappear, like our bodily food, in forms of vitality. 
                                                                                        Charlotte Mason

The above quote is from The Philosophy of Education and Laurie Bestvater quotes it at the beginning of The Living Page. I had read that quote several times before but this was really the first time I thought of it in terms of paper. Lucy is only 3 years old so obviously isn't keeping a commonplace book or even doing any formal notebooking or narration but I immediately thought of her drawings.

She loves to draw and I'm always excited to peek over her shoulder because her seeing what she draws is like a glimpse into her mind. Sometimes she draws what you think of as standard preschool subjects - family portraits, rainbows, horses, flowers. But often she draws what she has been thinking about and learning about. Those are my absolute favorite because you can see her thinking things through as she decides what to draw and how to put it down on paper.

As I mentioned here, last saturday afternoon we spent some time at a museum where she and I "dug" for fossils. Then we would match what we uncovered to a chart to find out what body part it was and from what animal it came. She loved this. That night as we were cooking dinner, she started drawing bones.

I immediately recognized the large one on the bottom as a jaw bone. That was the first "bone" we had found at the museum. But then as she kept drawing, I could see her try and figure out what other bones might look like. With a bit of guidance from us telling her to feel for them, she came up with some pretty good guesses. On the left there is a leg and foot. One the top, a "back bone" and below it a hand. She really wanted to draw ear bones but Craig and I were at a loss as to describing those for her.

This is much more of a nature journal style page than art.  She didn't want to color anything or make it pretty. This was all about getting down on paper what she was thinking and I could tell.
And it isn't very precise since her foot only has 3 toys but her hand has 12 fingers. But the effort she put in to think about things as she drew them was pretty impressive.

Ms. Mason is known for having said, "the only true education is self-education" and since her principles are based on the natural law of how children learn, this applies to the pre-formal education years as well. Of all the things I might have wanted or expected Lucy to learn this past weekend, the concepts of bones or fossils or skeletons did not make the list. We read books on Abraham Lincoln before we left and talked about presidents and I kind of expected the connections she made this weekend to have something to do with him -  and she did pick up bits and pieces of that but apparently this is the part of the feast that her mind was hungry for. And she wasn't done processing it until, hours after we left the museum, her mind had a chance to act upon it, transform it, and bring it out again in the form of a drawing. Amazing!


  1. I love how you were patient with your daughter to quietly turn over the interesting events of the day at the museum and then encouraged her as she essentially narrated them to you through her drawing! That's exactly what my kids do - they need that quiet space and then they enjoy giving back their thoughts and narration of an event that was memorable and full of ideas. This is a fantastic start to your children's early education!!

    I'm so glad you're joining the discussion and sharing your thoughts!! I hope you'll continue and maybe even share some glimpses of some of your notebooks as we read about them! We'd really love to see them!

  2. I love this!! A great example of child-directed learning, which is the best kind for preschoolers! I am joining in the book discussion a bit late, but I read this post earlier today... and then this evening, I took my 2 year old on a walk in our neighborhood. As we stopped to look at a centipede walking along the side of the street, I noticed how she was essentially "narrating" to me about it... and I thought of your post here and thought how fun it would be for me to write down what she said. She sees her older sisters drawing in their nature notebooks and always wants to draw in mine... now I am thinking I will ask her to draw the centipede and then I can write what she said about it underneath.

    Thanks for the inspiration! And how great that you are learning about Charlotte Mason methods and such when your oldest is still preschool aged. It will give you a great start! I feel like I am still learning so much and my oldest is a third grader. I keep finding myself drawn to this style of education over any other.

    Thanks for the inspiration for how to so gently and beautifully include the youngest of learners!