Everything that is not dead nettle

While I've talked about how we aim to spend a lot of time outside, I don't want to give off the impression that that time is all, or even mostly spent on nature study. My goal right now is just to get outside. The kids do very little formal nature study. Even those great little examples Charlotte Mason books give about kids coming back with tidbits and the mother encouraging them to picture a scene in their minds and describe. Not happening. The kids come back to me all the time, that part is true, but its to complain about the wind or to ask me to wipe chicken poop off their shoes or rinse sand from their waterbottles (even though I was pretty sure I told them not to take it into the sandbox to begin with) or to beg me to unlock the shed so they can find the "digger for shoveling."

And I'm okay with that for the most part. Every once in a while I feel that worry creep in - shouldn't I be doing more. Maybe I should pick a lesson from HONS and try and work through it with them so I could have something more to write down or check off. But I know at their ages, it would only be an added stress. So I try to keep on my path and remind myself that will come in time. Especially if I keep modeling my own interest in what I see. Which I do but even that can be discouraging sometimes because I feel like I know so little about even the plants and birds in my own back yard! But yesterday I got a glimpse of the ideal, one of those magical moments I wish I could bottle and I need to record it so I can look back and remember next time I need it.

This link was shared on the AO facebook group a week or so ago and it caught my eye because one of the few plants I have been able to identify in my yard without help was when I found "dead nettle" last year. Except, that link showed me that there are two other plants similar to dead nettle. So I had Lucy run out and collect some of what I had been telling her was dead nettle and with that link, and a bit of help from Craig (he is much better at plants than me!), it was officially declared to be ground ivy. Outwardly, I used it as an opportunity to show Lucy that its okay to make mistakes, we just keep learning. Inwardly, I was a bit disappointed. I thought I knew three plants in our yard (clover and dandelion being the other two :-) and I got one of those wrong! I was somewhat appeased that the title of that post said they were easily mixed up plants but only slightly.

Her pensive face?

But then yesterday we were playing outside and she ran over with a clump of something and yelled "Mom, it's not ground clover! But it's similar. Maybe this one is dead nettle. Can we write it?" (I do not know why my children continue to confuse the words draw and write but it happens 75% of the time).

Before I even went back to that link, we sat down and drew them and tried to find all the differences. Jonah drew too but I think he drew a robot dog. He's still not quite getting the point of drawing in the yard but that's the joy of being three years old.

  Our work. Hers is much better for her age than mine but I'm happy with both results. 

I transcribed for Lucy but she came up with the descriptions herself. Her drawings don't fully illustrate it but she did an amazing job at finding the differences. Even though neither of us knew how to correctly describe the differences in the leaf attachments or shapes, we were able to see them at least. Then I went back and read her some of the descriptions from that link I mentioned to see what she thought. She was pretty sure the new one was henbit (and I'm pretty sure she's right). She also guessed that it was called that because hens like to eat it and a little internet research proved her right. Our self experimentation on that subject proved inconclusive as chickens don't like to be chased even if you have something edible in your hand and are trying to give it to them. They just don't understand the nature study.

But she does. And together we are learning. Yay us!

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