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Mt. Vernon Homeschool Class Learns Navigation, Wildlife Tracking, Herbal Medicine, Awareness Skills and More

It was such a beautiful day today that we went straight to the park to begin our class.  We started out with the basic awareness skills:  fox walk and owl eyes then played a round of fox and hare.  The foxes try to s-l-o-w-l-y stalk in on the hare (like a fox would do in real life) and the hare uses its owl eyes to call the foxes out if any movement is seen.

Everyone had a great time playing fox and hare.

Then we learned how to listen with our deer ears by cupping our ears different ways to isolate and augment sounds from all directions.  We followed up the lesson with a game where the “deer” closes his or her eyes as the “cougars” are stalking in (fox-walking, of course).  If the deer hears a cougar they can call him or her out by pointing at the cougar (the direction of the sound).

We all practiced our deer ears while fox walking.

Then it was time to learn some basics of sketching.  We started out with some timed drawings.  Everyone was given 30 seconds to draw the person across from them without looking at their paper.  We sure ended up with some funny looking people!  Then everyone had 30 seconds to draw a person while able to look down at their paper.  A lot more ears were in the right places!

We all had 10 seconds to look at Skye then 1 minute to sketch her. She approved!

We practiced drawing an object from memory (view for 10 seconds then sketch the details).  Fortunately we had a beautiful model, Skye-dog!  Then we talked about and practiced different ways to draw leaves.

Everyone is learning how to sketch the negative space around a leaf.

We talked about patterns such as alternate vs. opposite and looked at several examples including samples we brought (hawthorne, holly, spruce and ash) and trees that surrounded us in the park.  We also learned that not only do leaves grow alternate and opposite but the veins within the leaves can grow that way as well.

Learning the difference between alternate and opposite while drawing leaf veins.

Next the kids headed off to learn about animal tracking while I set up observation alley.  They learned the difference between canine and feline tracks and found examples of both prints in the mud.  Then they practiced their skills by tracking Skye where she both walked and ran across the mud.

Tracking the elusive border collie.
Looking at the difference between direct and indirect register.

Following the tracking introduction, the kids headed over to test their observation skills.  I had previously hidden several of Skye’s squeekie toys amongst the grass, shrubs and trees (all colors, shapes and sizes).  Their task was to walk through the area and use their owl eyes to see how many objects they could find.  It’s amazing how hard it can be to see a stuffed pink pig in a little tree!  Then we spent a few minutes learning about the uses of spruce and fir needles (and tasting them!).  We also talked about broad-leaf and lance-leaf plantain (nature’s bandaid) and its amazing healing properties.

Off in search of Skye’s “missing” toys – the navigation challenge!

After we finished our plant walk, we headed over to do the navigation challenge.  The kids were given a satellite image of the park with X’s marking the location of each toy.  After learning how to use a compass and orient the map, they headed out.

Before proceeding to the next location, they had to agree as a group which direction to go.
The kids also had to write the name of the object they found on the map (great way to practice spelling), then decide which direction to go next.
It was wonderful to see all the kids (and adults!) working together to find all of the toys.

All in all it was a wonderful day sharing and learning at the park.  We hope to see everyone again next month!

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