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Saturday, January 28, 2012

Fertile Observations and Family Diaries

It is possible to see the more in winter, because the things to be seen do not crowd each other out. - Charlotte Mason, Vol. 1 p. 86


Edith Holden, The Country Diary of an Edwardian Lady
We are having a mild winter here in Minnesota - so far.  Charlotte Mason has some common-sense advice from her Vol. 1, Home Education.  There has been no problem following it this year!

Winter Walks as Necessary as Summer Walks
The question of out-of-doors exercise in winter and wet weather is really more important...If the children are to have what is quite the  best thing  for them, they should be two or three hours every day in the open air all through winter, say an hour and a half in the morning and as long in the afternoon.

snow on the hydrangea
Pleasures Connected with Frost and Snow
When frost and snow are on the ground children have very festive times, what with sliding, snow-balling, and snow-building.  But even on the frequent days when it is dirty under foot and dull over head they should be kept interested and alert, so that the heart may do its work cheerfully, and a grateful glow be kept up throughout the body in spite of clouds and cold weather.

Winter Observations
All that has been said about "sight-seeing' and "picture painting,"...and observations to be noted in the family diary, belongs just as much to winter weather as to summer; and there is no end to the things to be seen and noted.  The party come across a big tree which they judge, from its build, to be an oak - down it goes in the family diary; and when the leaves are out, the children come again to see if they are right. Many birds come into view the more freely in the cold weather that they are driven forth in search of food.

Our family diary, a perpetual calendar called Rosemary for Remembrance by Tasha Tudor
I love the mention of this "family diary".  Here it seems to clearly be referencing nature observations.  The only other place that I could find the term was in Vol. 5, p. 341 in reference to a young man who began a family diary in which each member would write in the language they were working on with hopes of mastering the different languages - another great idea!   The diary we use sits open by the door on a writing desk and the children record nature happenings as well as social events and personal milestones- an interesting cornucopia of events which they deem most interesting.

 Here is the way William Cowper describes some winter scenes in his poem The Task -

The cattle mourns in corners where the fence screens them.

The sun, with ruddy orb Ascending, fires the horizon.

Every herb and every spiry blade stretches a length of shadow o'er the field.

The sparrows peep, and quit the sheltering eaves.

The redbreast warbles still, but is content
With slender notes, and more than half suppress'd;
Pleased with his solitude, and flitting light 
From spray to spray, wheree'er he rests he shakes
From many a twig the pendent drops of ice
That tinkle in the wither'd leaves below.

And I love Miss Mason's parting words of confidence - 

There is no reason why the child's winter walk should not be as fertile in observations as the poet's; indeed, in one way, it is possible to see the more in winter, because the things to be seen do not crowd each other out.
tin-punch lantern hanging from the stick hut
Wishing you many fertile observations this winter,

Nancy

10 comments:

  1. Beautiful observations. We are half way through our summer here is Aus and if you go here -http://eternityinyourheart.blogspot.com/2012/01/summer-lovin.html you will find just some of our summer observations. xxx

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    1. Thank you, Sarah. I enjoyed seeing what you are doing during your summer! I have to admit, though, I like winter and am enjoying the beauty of it. Just as long as it ends when I want it to...

      From joy to joy,

      Nancy

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    2. Great post! Since we starting using the Charlotte Mason method a few years ago we have all enjoyed getting outdoors in winter as never before. Amazing how you forget the cold toes when you see a cardinal on a yellow branch against a backdrop of snow!

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  2. I'm over from the Carnival of Homeschooling. Love the idea of the family diary for nature and for other tidbits. I think it might help with the journaling habit if all shared writing a note from time to time. Lovely.

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  3. This is something that would be a family treasure. I loved the quote from Cowper. :)

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    1. Me too. You know, we need to read a lot more Cowper...

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  4. Family diary? Nancy, I think you just rocked my world! :-)

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    1. Only a true Mason aficionado would have their world rocked by such an idea. I'm with you, Tammy!

      From joy to joy,
      Nancy

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  5. Does the family diary replace Individual books of firsts? I think we'd do better if we kept up One instead 5 individual ones.

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    1. This is exactly the issue that we have run into! (Please note that the family diary is only given one mention in her works.) Since the Nature Notebook is a must for each individual, some of my children keep their "firsts" in the back of this. A few of the kids who adore any kind of journal and love to write have their own "Book of Firsts" in addition to the Nature Notebook. But, just as a classroom might keep one Book of Firsts for the entire class, we have a "Family Diary" that all contribute to - even mom and dad. All the notebooks were not all kept at the same time in Mason's schools. There seems to be seasons when different books are used. I am just talking about what has worked well for us, yet is keeping in line with the examples and rationale behind Mason's use of notebooks.

      From joy to joy,
      Nancy

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