Edwin Hubble said, “Equipped with his five senses, man explores the universe around him and calls the adventure Science.” Of equal notability (in my humble opinion), Richard Louv said “If we are going to save environmentalism and the environment, we must also save an endangered indicator species: the child in nature.”
These two quotes have pulled on my heart, in equal measure, for the past many months. Though I like to keep a general air of looseness and flexibility in our day-to-day homeschooling lives, I have a very clear idea of what I want my girls to receive from their education in the long run. Our world needs children who grow up fearlessly asking questions and offering solutions for a rapidly shifting landscape, children who love and understand the delicate balance between all the things that call this planet home. No matter what these children grow up to become or to pursue, the fact is that a child who grows up knowing nature and learning how to notice, question, theorize, experiment, and solve problems in innovative ways will be a tremendous asset to the planet and to mankind–not to mention themselves.
It may seem overdramatic to begin a blog post on a topic as airy and cheerful as sunflowers with such a serious message, but as parents and educators, we are responsible for delivering the next generation of caretakers for our world. This is a fact we consider, whether we realize it or not, when we decide which seventh-grade history curriculum to use, or which great works of literature to share with our children, or even when setting precedents for things like manners and personal responsibilities.
I’ve always felt STEAM and nature study belong hand-in-hand. And I’ve always struggled with finding a way to implement these together in early education. There are some neat resources for STEAM, and there are some neat resources for nature study but rarely will the two cross paths for more than a moment, and finding secular resources for either can be difficult. While I was daydreaming about what this kind of resource would look like, I decided that it should also include inspiration in the form of children’s literature. Being a lover of Charlotte Mason, I’ve always embraced the idea that children, impassioned by beautiful stories about nature, will tend to notice more (and cherish more) during their time outdoors. Gradually, Book Seeds by Blossom and Root began to take shape.
A few weeks ago, I eagerly approached my daughters with the very first Book Seed, inspired by Janet Lucy’s book The Three Sunflowers. What unfolded in the weeks that followed was exactly what I had hoped for–a generous helping of inquiry and wonder, a splash of math-in-context, art, and explorations in language, all pivoting around a lovely little book about sunflowers. The girls loved learning about the relationship between pollinators and flowers, trying to fit as many sunflower seeds as possible onto a small play-dough circle, and drawing spirals all over our giant whiteboard. They delighted in figuring out the sequential order of Van Gogh’s famous sunflower series, and trying their hand at sunflower still-life themselves. They rambled gleefully around the wild spaces outside our apartment on a scavenger hunt for seeds and seed-eaters. And they had a blast making up funny new words to describe things around our house (stinkdog and clunkshoes for example.)
I decided to keep going. There are currently over three dozen Book Seeds in one stage or another of development. They all include four STEAM activities, an art project, a nature journal prompt or tutorial, a recipe to make together, and an activity to explore language and poetry (including copywork.) They are each inspired by one children’s book, and they all center around nature and nature study. I am bursting with excitement to add these to our homeschool over the next several years! The first bundle, all inspired by autumn themes of apples, pumpkins, leaves, and more, will be available in the next month. In the meantime, I’m giving away free copies of our first issue, inspired by The Three Sunflowers, to our wonderful readers. All you have to do is fill out the form at the bottom of this page and your free pdf download will be sent straight to your inbox. We did this Book Seed over two weeks, and this was a good pace for us. You could certainly take more or less time, depending on the rhythm of your homeschool and the ages of your children.
If you decide to try out our sunflower STEAM in your homeschool, please feel free to share pics on Instagram and tag them with #brbookseeds–I would LOVE to see them! Happy homeschooling! 🙂
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Get Your FREE Trial Issue of Book Seeds By Blossom & Root!
This FREE issue, inspired by the book The Three Sunflowers by Janet Lucy, includes two weeks of activities including nature study, STEAM, art project, recipe, and exploring language and poetry. Suitable for ages 3 - 8. Grab yours today!