Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Nature Study: Summer Trails Part 1

We recently moved to an area with plenty of nature trails to explore and hike.  We have taken advantage of these hikes, but I've never really carried my camera with me (o.k. I've never carried my camera with me).  One, just another thing to lug; two, the idea was for the kids to draw in their nature journals; three, just never thought about it.  Since I recently started this cyber space for some journaling of my own; I have noticed my kids constantly reminding me, "get your camera mom, you can put it on the blog!"  I have to admit, we've gotten some pretty good spontaneous takes of our natural world in the last three months.

It is officially summer and it can get pretty hot out here.  My husband and I have agreed to make a weekly hiking trip early in the mornings before the heat is unbearable.  I'll try to just post some shots of anything new or interesting we come across.

This week we seemed to focus on the hot dessert bearing flowers and plants on our trail.  We ran into:
Wild Mustard (Brissica rapa)

I read somewhere that the Wild Mustard was brought to California from Spain by the Franciscan Father Junipero Serra.

Purple Sage (Salvia leucophylla)
This is one of California's largest native sage, reaching height potentials of six feet.

 Prickly Pear Cactus (Opuntia littoralis)
 We couldn't get enough of these beautiful cactus flowers.  My oldest was definitely the expert on these.  She answered tons of questions from her siblings.  She explained how they store lots of water, how the thorns protect them from predators (what predators are), how this is a very nutritious plant and used by local Indian tribes not just for food but for medicine and on she went.  I asked where she had gathered so much information and her response was basically, " I remember and read about it."  Where?  Field guide, newspaper article, history book readings and remembered a field trip guided by a professional tracker two years ago about the Chumash Indian tribe.  "By the way," she said, "we can also eat the wild Mustard, if we have to survive out here."  Way to go girl!  One last picture of the Opuntia:

 And there go the kids ready to head home after a nice hike. Notice my dear husband carrying not one but two tired little boys, thank goodness their combined weight is about the same as his backpacking pack ;  )

Monday, June 27, 2011

Buzzing Bees Part 3

I am always amazed how living our education can just lead you sometimes (most often than not) in a very spontaneous way.  Our intent yesterday afternoon was to head over to a local fish hatchery and let the kids take a small tour.  We got to the hatchery ten minutes after they had officially closed.  Instead of just making the drive back home we decided to drive to the nearby lake and check out the campgrounds (just in case we want to go there someday).  Once we were on the highway again, we noticed a big sign that read HONEY TASTING ROOM.  I remember hearing about a honey farm in the area a couple of  years back but honestly had completely forgotten about it. 

We did visit the lake but on our way back home detoured into the honey farm.  They were closed for tours on the weekend but the kids enjoyed looking around the store and tasting the different varieties of honey.

They even had a chance to taste cactus honey (a very thick and coarse consistency, but still sweet).  I think that their favorite thing in the store was a mounted glass door cabinet full of bees and a live honey hive:

Slowly but surely we have by living our education covered just about every aspect of the bee and its existence.   Pretty neat!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Kate Greenaway, Just Lovely

I love old Victorian era style art and pictures.  One of my favorite children's illustrators is Kate Greenaway.  There is something so lovely about her depiction of children that just makes me want to have a tea party.
I have been very lucky to find some books which feature her illustrations.   On two separate occasions now, I have found what I consider treasures at our library's used book sale area.  Several months ago I found Kate Greenaway's Family Treasury:

This is such a treat because it includes five of her well known books:  A Applepie, Book of Games, Marigold Garden, Mother Goose, and Under the Window.  I have to admit, I enjoy all of them; but my favorite is the Book of Games.  The description of Victorian era games and the illustrations that go with them are just too precious.   I easily imagine Ms. Mason and her students in these portraits.  They honestly just make me smile.

 Yesterday at the library I found this 1974 Dover Coloring Book.  It looks brand new, with yellowed pages of course; but just perfect none the less.  I immediately added to our pile.  I haven't figured out how to incorporate these lovely books into our days yet.  The girls have looked through them and enjoyed them, but I'm thinking more along the lines of using them for copy work.   For now they are treasures and they are sitting in our summer reading basket just because.

    June 23
 Dear moon-daisies, I love you;
     Old friends, that I know so well;
 Glad scenes come back when I see you,
      And sad thoughts that I dare not tell.
                                Mrs. Sale-Barker,  from Birthday Book

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Happy Father's Day

Many blessings and good thoughts to all our dads.  They are our rock and foundation.  I could not imagine our lives without the guidance and caring my wonderful husband provides.  We spent the morning at church listening to the last children's choir mass until September.  Both my girls were very excited to have their dad and grandfather there listening to them. 

Then we came home and the kids helped dad clean the garage.  They did a good job but not before a couple of interruptions from another family celebrating father's day nestled in our driveway's lavender bushes. If you have as many quail in your neck of the woods as we do, you know their song is not necessarily the quietest or melodious.  It did not take my kids long to find their nest a couple of feet away from where they were hard at work.  Here is a California Quail pair and one of their chicks.
The kids think they counted about six of these little guys in the quails nest hidden underneath all the lavender.  Mom and dad kept coming out and checking out what my little chicks were doing.

The morning couldn't be complete without dad showing our four year old how to be gentle with his little friend:

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Shakespeare Fridays

A year ago I was drawing a blank on how to incorporate Shakespeare into our studies.  I really wanted to do this but I knew I couldn't just start reading original works to my very young crowd.  Everything I had read about Charlotte Mason suggested that this should be material the kids are exposed too.  Just how to do it.  I admit, I am what some would call a Type A personality and really enjoy organization and lists.  I have to see it mapped out for me.  There can be detours and stops, but ultimately I have to have a destination.

Besides Ms. Mason suggesting Shakespeare is good for children, I also had another pressing dilemma.  Many of our homeschool friends have participated in a Shakespeare Theater group that meets once a week from October to about May.  Their goal is to perform a play and I believe have a written paper by the end of their sessions.  It sounds wonderful and someday I hope my kids can be a part of it, especially the performances; but for now the very steep price just isn't justifiable, not yet anyway.  I will say, that the kids involvement in this group certainly sparked an interest in my girls.  Thus, started my research.  Where to start? What books to use?  I ran across Elizabeth Foss and contributor's Serendipidity site.  She has a whole plan layed out for Shakespeare Fridays.  I did not follow her plans exactly but I fell in love with the order of reading materials she suggested. 

Someone recently left a comment on my post that made great sense.  You have to first read and learn the basics before you can dive into the richness of original works.  I think my girls, who had not been exposed to Shakespeare, would have had a hard time jumping right into the stories; much less original works.  I had to start with an introduction.  We started in the fall learning about the Bard himself, then about the Globe, then about stories that inspired him, and are still reading through Edith Nesbit's Beautiful Stories from Shakespeare.  My daughters have enjoyed this Friday morning ritual, that even now as all our subjects are pretty much complete they are anxious about getting to the next story.  It's turned into an everyday Shakespeare.  Last week, we discovered Shakespeare: Animated Tales at our library and have made this an afternoon showing.  They are really enjoying this too.  I thought it was very cute to see my younger daughter sitting on the couch with her Shakespeare notebook ready to compare characters she had drawn.  Oh, I can't forget to mention, they love that they can talk to their friends and not be in the dark when a character or setting is mentioned. 

I'm not sure they are ready to tackle an original yet, but I do know we love our Shakespeare Fridays.  I think we will just move on to maybe Charles Lamb's Tales from Shakespeare, some films and maybe even a home made production.  It is clearly marked on our schedule for the next year.  I'm pretty convinced that this will become a permanent subject with a gradual introduction to his originals and a serious study through all his works.  How are you enjoying your Shakespeare?

Image is of Titania from "A Midsummer Night's Dream" from the Graphics Fairy Website.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Do You Like the Outdoors & Nature?

While I was doing my Charlotte Mason reading this last week, besides the great benefits observation affords my children, there was one thing that really hit me and caught me by surprise.  It might be completely a no brainer for anyone who is already practicing Charlotte Mason's philosophies, but for some who are just getting started and showing an interest it might not be so obvious in the beginning.  Let's face it she offers so many wonderful ideas to implement in the areas of all the Arts; visual to grammatical.  But this little thing is a big one:
"Some children are born naturalists, with a bent inherited, perhaps, from an unknown ancestor; but every child has a natural interest in the living things about him which it is the business of his parents to encourage; for, but few children are equal to holding their own in the face of public opinion; and if they see that the things which interest them are indifferent or disgusting to you, their pleasure in them vanishes, and that chapter in the book of Nature is closed to them."  Volume 1, pg 58, 1906 edition
So much of Ms. Mason's ideas in the early years centers around the outdoors and nature study that it would be very difficult to guide my children in the art of keen observation, the beginning of narrations, and picture/composer study without giving them that opportunity to be outdoors. 

I found this very interesting because like I've mentioned in another post I am a city girl.  I did not discover or want to discover nature until I left home for college.  I lived in the dorms at a private university about 50 miles away from all the busy city hustle and bustle.   My first few nights were very difficult to sleep.  Part of it, of course, was the anxiety about being away from home and new beginnings; but there was another very distracting element.  There was no city noise!  All I could hear at night were crickets, rustling leafs and honestly, whistling wind.  I remember taking a Biology class and when we got to classification, our instructor had us meet her at a hiking trail site.  We went on a short hike, in the open trail, looking for flower specimens on our list and a blank notebook in hand to draw/write our observations.  What if there were snakes or a coyote up ahead.  For someone who had never been in the outdoors like that, it was an experience; hands on learning.  Maybe even at that point a little flame began to burn for what is now my admiration of Ms. Masons philosophies.  I can go on about many first impressions with the natural world, but my point is that I completely agree with Ms. Mason:  in order for my children to benefit from this approach, I have to absolutely be willing and wanting to enjoy the outdoors as well. 

For some of us this is a transition and sometimes not an easy one.  Anyone who knows me from many years back will tell you they just never imagined that this would be the type of education I would be giving my kids.  A bookworm I have always been, but a naturalist, that was not something I grew up with.  One last point, I married a man who craves the outdoors and dirt on his hands.  He seeks the comfort of hikes, annual backpacking trips and camping trips.  This has been essential in assisting me to appreciate all things natural and introducing our children to Ms. Mason's methods. The very first CM method I incorporated was giving my oldest a nature journal when we started our homeschooling journey four years ago.
These were taken yesterday morning in our backyard at the bottom of our hill.  I don't think I would have stuck around with the kids pre-college days. You can imagine the field guides that came out : )

Monday, June 13, 2011

Observation and Buzzing Bees Part 2

A few weeks back I posted about our approach to science incorporating nature study.  This has just become so natural and effective that I had to write some more.  I've noticed that when the kids have a chance to see and experience the natural world, the things we read about become even more real.  Our readings about insects happened a few weeks back but the kids haven't forgotten about it.  And I doubt they will either.  There are always thoughts and questions.

Over the weekend we were all at my sisters house helping clean up the yard.  While raking we discovered these:

The kids immediately asked for a plastic storage bag to save and bring home.  They were just so interested and pleased to have found a real skeleton of a honeycomb.  That's where honey comes from! Wow!  It's so thin! Wow!... And so on went the comments for the afternoon.  The next morning we had buttered toast with honey spread. 

This of course tickles me because I just finished reading part 2, Out-Of Door Life for the Children, of Volume 1: Home Education in which Ms. Mason emphasizes of course nature study and the outdoors, but more importantly to me she speaks of the power  in training a child to observe. 
"They must be alone, left to themselves a great deal, to take in what they can of beauty of earth and heavens; for of the evils of modern education few are worse than this - that the perpetual cackle of his elders leaves the poor child not a moment of time, nor an inch of space, wherein to wonder - and grow.  At the same time, here is the mother's opportunity to train the seeing eye, the hearing ear, and to drop seeds of truth into the open soul of the child, which shall germinate, blossom, and bear fruit, without further help or knowledge of her.  Then, there is much to be got by perching in a tree or nestling in heather, but muscular development comes of more active ways, and an hour or two should be spent in vigorous play; and last, and truly least, a lesson or two must be got in."  Volume 1, pg 44-45, 1906 edition
One of the benefits in my approach to combine science and nature study in the early years, certainly has the added asset of training my children in the art of observation.  Ms. Mason describes many ways to do this when they are outdoors.  She explains how to have the children recall what they observe in detail.  As her quote does mention our involvement in the process, I think,  it is an art in itself for us to know exactly when are the right moments to plant those seeds of knowledge.  Maybe we set up the parameters with a little reading at just the right season when we know there will be bees outside or butterflies fluttering by.  This might lead to discussions about insects, life cycles, habitats, ecological benefits; you get my point.   She mentions other examples where this is the case and your learning other subjects as well.  For example studying the natural positions of the sun and this leading to learning time, distance, and direction.  All of it from simple observations and a mother's gentle introductions.  Herein lies my very important job of finding those right books and materials that will allow me to guide them without lecturing the subject.  Let's face it, I'm not a walking encyclopedia.  A sweet introduction and just let that natural curiosity grow.

"In his early years the child is all eyes; he observes, or more truly, he perceives, calling sight, touch, taste, smell, and hearing to his aid, that he may learn all that is discoverable by him about every new thing that comes under his notice. ... Nature teaches so gently, so gradually, so persistently, that he is never overdone, but goes on gathering little stores of knowledge about whatever comes before him. ... By-and-by he will be called upon to reflect, understand, reason; what material will he have, unless he has a magazine of facts to go upon?" Volume 1, pg 65-66, 1906 edition

A recent discussion over at 4Real about what science curriculum should be used for first graders reminded me of what I was currently reading.  How Ms. Mason stresses the importance for these first few years and it emphasized something I've noticed in our approach to these two subjects, in the last two years.  When you let the kids explore the natural world in all its glory and magnificence; they naturally are curious and want to learn.  That curiosity can only come from the very basic senses of observation.  The longer my children are outside the more they've witnessed and the more anxious they become about wanting to know.  Not to mention how much they want to tell me about their observations.  Even sweeter for me, is how much they want me to tell them about their findings.  Another point Ms. Mason made, that I found interesting, is that if you allow for the progression of natural observation to occur, the child will also naturally progress to studying these subjects with greater interest and understanding.  In essence you're creating a deeper appreciation for the subject matter to come with more detail in later years.  I can see a process of learning here and it so makes me smile : ).

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Natural History Readings

As I've mentioned previously, this last year was a transition year for my oldest daughter.  She had not approached the subject of Natural History before; at least not as a subject.  With the recommendations of such sites as Ambleside Online I chose a book for her to read the first term.  Unfortunately, she didn't take too it and we dropped it.  I didn't give it much thought, for I knew, she had plenty of material to read through for the whole year. 

At the same time, I had chosen Clara Dillingham Pierson's Among the Forest People, Among the Meadow People and Among the Pond People for my younger daughter to read, in this subject area, one for each term.  She adored them immediately.  A couple of times my oldest was caught reading through a book or two and before you knew it she had read them all.  At the beginning of our third term my oldest asked if I could pick a similar book about animals as well, but something a little more exciting.  Hmm, more exciting, O.K.  I went back to check on some recommendations appropriate for her age and reading level.  I settled on Wild Animals I Have Known by Ernest Thompson Seton.  She enjoyed this book so much that after completing it she begged me to please find other books by him. Well, I was more than happy to comply and we found a copy of Wild Animal Ways which is sitting in her summer reading basket. 

I'm so thrilled that she took a liking to this particular genre of books.  Nature study is such a big part of the Charlotte Mason philosophy of education and reading about the intimate relations of the natural world, in my most humble opinion, is as well.  How else can my daughter be able to visually understand the nature of the few coyotes we've witnessed strolling leisurely on the other side of our gate, on an open hillside.  Or the endless cotton tail rabbits that roam in the spring and summer to only be seriously missing in the winter time.  Maybe someday she can spend days and evenings studying their every moment but for now all I can say is that Mr. Seton Thompson's Raggylug and Lobo sure made an impression on her. 

Unless we also expose our children to such readings I can see how our Nature Studies might not be enough or as exciting as seeing an animated animal in battle on screen or any such misrepresentation of the natural world.  As fun as these might be and purely for sake of a few laughs;  I also want to instill in my children a love for the natural world as it is intended.  There is another level of appreciation for the natural world when we share some of these wonderful natural history writers.   Yes, first and foremost that appreciation will come with intimate connection that our children themselves make, but there is no doubt many before us have made the same connection and have beautifully written about it.  I'm glad we will continue to enjoy and appreciate them in our readings.

Welcome Baby Cousin

There has been such an anxiety  for the arrival of our new baby cousin.  The day is finally here.  This morning the newest addition to our family was born.  My sister in law delivered a very healthy 21 1/2 in., 9lb. 7oz baby boy.  My kids are thrilled and ecstatic.  We can't wait to meet you little M. A.   May the Lord Bless you always; lots of love your cousins.  Get ready to get muddy and lots of outside play.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Amazing Sites: Antigua Processions Semana Santa

Religion and faith are strong components of our educational journey.  No surprise one of the reasons we chose to travel to Guatemala during Holy Week (Semana Santa) is the mere fact that we had heard so much about how reverently and beautifully the country celebrates this special time in the church.  We were not disappointed.  While yes the country is predominantly Catholic or of a Christian faith this isn't a prerequisite for all to enjoy and admire the celebrations and traditions.  Everywhere we went people were preparing for the processions.  Which would last from the early dawn to late into the dusk depending on where you were.  We traveled to the old capital, Antigua, known for its amazing cobblestone streets and Spanish style churches.

First lets see the wonderful flower carpets people create.  These are made of all things natural, from flowers to seeds to vegetables.  They take hours to prepare.  We talked to a gentleman who shared that his nephews were learning the art and had spent all night with him.  The work reminded me of our own New Year's Day Rose Parades.

Next, there are people whom will volunteer up to seven years in a row to be a part of the processions.  Your spot is taken and you are assigned a place or role during Holy Week.  We saw men and women serving, we even saw small children being prepared for this very important part.

Now the actual procession.  Men will carry these massive wood made floats.  They begin inside the church, process around the town, sometimes reading the word, sometimes with procession music, sometimes in complete silence and will enter the church again.  Some walks will take hours before they return to their starting points.  We saw women carrying floats as well, usually of the Blessed Mother.  On television we witnessed the showing of a children's procession taking place in the capital.  The children carrying floats, it really was  a site. 

I should probably disclose.  Remember those pretty carpets;  they are decimated after one of these floats (along with the hundreds of followers) walk right through them !

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Party Host

For a few years now, I've been wanting to host something.  Before six children, before home schooling, before over a decade of marriage, just before... I remember hosting and attending lots of demonstration type parties.  You know the ones where you have some treats and snacks and listen to someone present their product.  I always felt so grown up and exclusive at these.  I enjoyed the products and there was always a goal of items to get.  As time has gone by this has not been something I do anymore. 

My get togethers have completely shifted to birthday parties, family type events, play dates and of course our circle of friends also seems to have changed (slightly).  I certainly don't mind and enjoy every single time there is a gathering to plan.  I think I'm becoming an excellent last minute planner.  My kids are always asking so who's coming today?  What are we celebrating?  It really is fun.  But lately I've been craving something just for mommy.

Yesterday afternoon one of my dear friends (also a catholic homeschooling mom) brought her beautiful Starry Night Design Jewelry to display at my house.  My wonderful husband agreed to take all the kids (except the baby) to run errands and do chores elsewhere.  We had the whole house to ourselves.  I served coffee and tea and had a very nice selection of sweet treats for us to enjoy.  We listened to some Sam Cooke and had great conversation.  There was something different about the atmosphere at this party though.  This wasn't about the product (although it is lovely and just about the only jewelry I wear).  I couldn't quiet explain it, but then I finally realized what it was.  There was something very special about each lady present and why they were there.  They have each blessed me so much and in so many ways: six children later, four years of home schooling later, over a decade of marriage later, a grown up life later.   It was a small gathering of some of the closest and most loved women in my life.  You have no idea how much they mean to me as women, mothers, family, mentors and friends:  they are all wonderful and amazing.  I really hope that you all have that special group of women that only makes you better each passing year.  Thanks for coming, I had a great time.  It was exactly the mommy time I wanted!

So sorry, my pictures don't do her work justice. : (

Friday, June 3, 2011

Astronomy for Summer ?

There are still a couple of subjects we need to finish in the next week and I was seriously thinking a good long break before starting any plans.  I've got plenty of summer fun reads already in our living room book  basket, but wasn't planning anything else for a while.   I'm not burned out, really : ), but it has been a long spring.  A wonderful vacation, two first communions (including my beautiful girl), two baptisms, one baby shower,  7 birthdays with parties, one zoo snooze camp out, and a very full Mother's Day. 

Then my very artistic, creative builder six year old son starts asking lots of planet questions last night.  I obliged and took out some books I've been gathering for an Astronomy study and started looking at them with him.  He was very interested and asked plenty of questions.  Then did what comes very natural to him:  he hit the arts'n'crafts area.  He was very busy last night and this morning.  Running around with our copy of Child's Introduction to the Night Sky.  Mid morning my three year old begs me to please put the number one on his ticket.  Ticket?  Yes, so I can go to the museum.  What museum?  The one in the big boys room. They've got Daddy's flashlights.  Huge smile:
My girls immediately start chimming in.  You know you can really see the stars better in the summer...and when we go camping you really see them ... and their named after Greek mythology, aren't we doing that next.  I haven't been able to keep them away from the constellation books today. Now, I just have to explain to my husband how that telescope is really a good investment.  Can we please get it, it is an educational expense  : )

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Human Body: What A Wonderful Gift

We are slowly finishing up our third term around here.  I just had to tell you about the wonderful experience my oldest daughter (11) had with her Human Anatomy Study.   This is the one child who did not start out with a Charlotte Mason education.  The last two years I have been slowly transitioning her studies so that it would not seem overwhelming to her.  I also knew this would be a wonderful experience for her because she is a voracious and advanced reader.

Science has always been a topic that she had covered with a textbook. Those that have snippets of  information for different topics filled with end of the chapter questions, end of unit reviews and so on.  This last year we decided to change things a bit.  She is still reading through Fairyland of Science by Arabella Buckley and narrating through it.  But I also decided to give her something that still felt like a textbook and held CM potential.  We chose Exploring Creation with Human Anatomy and Physiology by Jeannie Fulbright along with the Journal and some living books:  Science in Colonial America, Galen and the Gateway to Medicine, and The Way We Work.   She worked on her textbook twice a week, the living books once a week (or more if she chose too) and the Buckley book once a week.  She finished working through her anatomy books last week (I had her skip the last chapter on genetics, I have something planned for this later) and all of a sudden I realized I had never asked her for a written narration. I completely relied on her oral narrations through out the entire year.  The written part of end of term exams so far had only focused on our history & geography studies.  So at the end of last week I asked if she would write me an essay with an outline of what she had enjoyed learning about the most in her anatomy book.   Please remember I'm still new to this and have sudden attacks of whether these methods are enough. 

This morning she handed me her finished work and asked if I could type (a skill will be working on this summer) it.  Her outline was complete with an introduction, five key systems of the body and an ending.  Her essay was four pages of hand written front and back no skipped lines.  The content of the essay was so thorough that even I am still completely in aw that she wrote it.  I'll leave you with her closing paragraph to show you how she connected with this topic:

I see the human body in a wonderful way.  To think, that God made us a body filled to the rim with everything we need, just because he loved us.  God's powers are amazing!  He gave us a brain to help us think, lungs that help us breathe, bones (and a spine) to help us stand, blood that brings oxygen to our body tissues and a heart that pumps blood.  We should always be grateful to God for giving us this wonderful gift.  The human body! 

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Gardeners, Not Really

You have to allow me to laugh at  myself when it comes to growing things.  I've read the posts, seen the pictures, own every Sharon Lovejoy book; but I was not born with a green thumb.  That doesn't stop the kids and I from trying though.  Since our newly discovered love for the outdoors we've made an honest whole hearted effort to plant a garden.  Our old house had a strict keep out of the yard rule;  you see my husband does have a green thumb.  Every year we reaped the rewards with fresh fruit.  He actually had about 11 different fruit trees in the back yard, the kids loved it.  Well, two years ago we moved to a bigger house with a small hill in the backyard.  It is very nicely separated into three sections by some wood work and stones.  He gave us the green light to a section on the very top of the hill.  The kids and I got right to work:  clearing it of weeds, leveling it, and dividing it for our seeds with pretty brick and wood borders.  We worked really hard.
Looks great huh,  well just as soon as we started to actually see some vegetables in the garden; they started to disappear.  Again, let me laugh at myself.  I am a city girl born and bred.  I had no idea how many little critters run around on clear hillsides.  And let me tell you they loved our selection.  One of my girls was following her pumpkin seeds and ritualistically recording its progress in her nature journal:

She didn't get to see her pumpkins fully grown.  This year with the inspiration from another little book called Onions in My Boots by Nancy Nicholson;  we decided to try again. We used some containers, drilled holes and planted our seeds.  Then took chicken wire and covered the wood frame.  Then took some netting and covered the top.  I love our nature friends but we hope this will keep them out:

It is a much smaller garden and many less seed variations, but we really would like to enjoy the end products.  My nature journal girl has been watering everyday since we put this together last week.  Her four year old brother was so excited to see a first bud today:  from his bin mind you.

Inspired post today, thanks J.  : )