We haven't been doing much with our curriculum resources lately. Instead, with the weather warming up, our homeschooling has focused more on spring growth and outdoor projects. This is part of the natural ebb and flow of the year that makes homeschooling advantageous. Instead of being stuck indoors behind desks, we're spending lots of time outside and working on the following:
planting vegetables, fruits, and flowers
preparing for our summer garden
creating a shady pond
Springtime is a great time to observe nature. Some Spring things that we purposefully observe are:
leaf buds and leaves forming on the trees,
(often very small) flowers that most trees have at this time of year,
shapes and colors of the different leaves,
flower buds on the native cacti,
flowers on our fruit trees,
tiny fruit that is forming on our fruit trees,
insects that have reappeared after winter, such as ladybugs, beetles, and caterpillars,
listening to the abundant bird calls,
birds performing mating rituals and building nests,
mama birds sitting on nests, followed by their chirping babies (viewed with quiet and discretion so we don't overly scare the birds)
Planting Vegetables, Fruits, and Flowers
In the early Spring, we planted large pots of cool-weather vegetables such as beets, carrots, radishes, and lettuce. Since my daughter especially loves flowers, we've also planted flowers in pots and flower beds. We located the pots in a sunny spot that is close to our front door, for easy watering. As Spring has progressed, we've enjoyed watching these plants grow and then harvesting our vegetables.
This year, we've also been planting new fruit trees and created a large strawberry patch in our back yard. My kids have been learning the lessons of how to prepare the soil and plant all of these, as well as how to install the watering systems that are so crucial here in our dry desert climate. These hands-on lessons give my kids valuable life skills and will eventually reap delicious fruits for our labors.
Preparing For Our Summer Garden
We dug out our old seeds and have started planning out our summer vegetable garden. My children have each had their own gardening space in our family's garden since they were 3-years-old. Many family memories have been made when we are working alongside each other in the family garden.
This year, my daughter is planning to grow tomatoes, sunflowers, and corn. My son is planning to grow pumpkins, watermelons, and dill. I am planning to grow cucumbers and acorn squash. Our next step is to amend the soil in our garden area with composted chicken manure, and then we'll be ready to plant!
Creating a Shady Pond
Last Fall, to save some tadpoles whose water hole was drying up, we threw together a small pond using an old tarp as a pond liner. This Spring, we've worked on beautifying the pond area and turning it into a lovely place to sit outside. We've learned some principles of how to create a natural pond (with no pump or filtration system), and we will get to see how well we've implemented those principles as the year progresses.
The pond creates a wonderful mini-ecosystem in which we can observe outdoor life. Many birds (and even a baby skunk) have been observed near the pond, and there are many insects and aquatic creatures living in the pond. A few goldfish should help keep the mosquito populations low.
Since my kids have their own little chicken egg business, Spring is a time to replenish our flock with new chicks to keep up their egg production. Our original plan this Spring was to incubate eggs and hatch chicks from our own fertile chicken eggs. That plan didn't work out due to problems with the incubator, but nonetheless we learned a lot about incubation and hatching in preparing for that.
Now, instead, we'll be buying a few chicks from the store. My kids will spend much time in the coming weeks playing Mama Hen: making sure the chicks are kept warm and fed, giving them time to explore outdoors, and protecting them from predators (such as a roadrunner who decimated our chicks last year). Raising chicks is one of my children's favorite parts of having their egg business.